Free To Live – Jamaica’s Free Villages

Sligoville, St Catherine

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The St John’s Anglican Church in Sligoville, which was built in 1840

Sligoville was the first free village established in Jamaica. Previously known as Highgate, it was formally dedicated on June 12, 1840. It was named in honour of Howe Peter Browne, Second Marquess of Sligo, governor of Jamaica from 1834 to 1836. Sligo had been sent here to oversee the transition from the apprenticeship system to full freedom in 1840.

The village had actually been established five years earlier when, in anticipation of the needs of the slaves when they would be free, Rev James Murcell Phillipo, with Sligo’s support, constructed a school and church at Highgate, a district established on a steep and high escarpment from which the sea could be seen from either side. Baptist missionary work had been going on in the area since 1829 under the leadership of George Lisle and George Knibb. Phillipo’s involvement started in 1834, the same year The Gleaner was established, and in 1835 he bought 25 acres of land for £100 for the setting up of a village… Read more

St Ann

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Sturge Town


This free village was established by Rev John Clark with the support of the philanthropist Mr. Sturge. It was named after one of the abolitionists of slavery Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton. The abolitionists laboured long and tirelessly in their efforts to bring freedom to the slaves.


It was named by Rev John Clark, Baptist minister stationed at Brown’s Town in St Ann in 1835, for Thomas Clarkson, an English advocate of the abolition of slavery. It was one of the first set of free villages to be established just after emancipation. The land was purchased to be used as a settlement for ex-slaves after August 1, 1838.

Sturge Town

Baptist missionary the Reverend John Clark was primarily responsible for the establishment of the free village of Sturge Town. Established in 1839, Sturge Town has the distinction of being Jamaica’s second-oldest free village. The town was named in honour of Joseph Sturge, the architect of the campaign against West Indian apprenticeship… Read more