Parish Facts – Portland, St Thomas, Kingston & St Andrew


Andrew Smith / Photography Editor Historical buildings in downtown Kingston
The Ward Theatre
  1. Kingston was made a parish in 1713.
  2. The parish was once called Beeston, after Sir William Beeston, who served as Lieutenant Governor of the island from 1693-1700.
  3. It is believed to be have been renamed Kingston in honour of the king of England. A letter from Port Royal dated July 3, 1693 referred to it being known by some as “Kingston” and others as “Killcown.”
  4. The parish of lies around the Kingston Harbour, stretching from Port Royal, at the end of the Palisadoes peninsula, through Downtown to the port in the West.
  5. The city replaced Spanish Town as the capital of Jamaica in 1872.
  6. Kingston Harbour is the seventh largest natural harbour in the world.

St Andrew


  1. St Andrew was one of the first parishes in Jamaica to be established by law in 1867. Before being established, it was known as ‘Liguanea’, the Taino word for iguana.
  2. By 1923, the capital city had expanded far enough into St Andrew to require a merging of the smaller parish of Kingston into St Andrew. The Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), instituted by act of law, is the governmental body responsible for the city of Kingston and its two parishes.
  3. St Andrew is the birthplace of reggae as many of the island’s most famous musicians developed their music in Trench Town. Although it is considered part of downtown Kingston, the community is actually not located in Kingston proper.
  4. Devon House is the former residence of George Stiebel, Jamaica’s first black millionaire. He was among three wealthy Jamaicans who constructed elaborate homes during the late 19th century at the corner of Trafalgar Road and Hope Road, which fittingly became known as the Millionaires Corner.
  5. Parish capital Half-Way Tree is commonly referred to as the midway mark between what is called “Uptown” and “Downtown”.  When the Spaniards first arrived, a huge cotton tree stood near to the parish church, at the  junction of the important roads which led from Spanish Town and Kingston to the easterly parishes of Portland (formerly St George) and St. Mary. People travelling from the western parish into Kingston, or further east, often stopped at this “halfway” point to rest and there was a tavern in the shade of the old cotton tree which provided refreshment for the travellers, hence the name of this famous intersection.

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