In 1664, the Spanish relinquished control of Jamaica to the British and Sir Thomas Modyford divided this fair isle into seven administrative units known as parishes. These were located mainly in the mid to south-eastern end of the island: Clarendon, St John’s, St Andrew’s, St Katherine’s, Port Royal, St David’s and St Thomas in the East. As we know, Jamaica has undergone several parish evolutions since then, leaving us with the 14 we know today.
We’ve already shared some quick facts about the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St Elizabeth as part of Parish Pride month. Today, let’s revisit those parishes to find out how they got their names.
Clarendon was named for Lord Chancellor Sir Edward Hyde, the first Earl of Clarendon. Hyde was the sixth of the nine children. He studied at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, from 1622-6. His intention was to enter the Church, but the death of his two elder brothers left him the heir to his father’s estate. Acting on the advice of his uncle, chief justice Sir Nicholas Hyde, he began legal training at the Middle Temple and was called to the bar in November 1633. Hyde’s political career began in 1640 when he was elected MP. From 1641, Hyde became an adviser to the King. He drafted most of the declarations issued in the King’s name and attempted, where possible, to tone down his more reckless policies.
Manchester was named for William Montagu, the fifth Duke of Manchester. He was Governor of Jamaica from 1808 to 1827. He also served as Postmaster General from 1827 to 1830. The parish capital, founded in 1816, was named after his eldest son, George, Viscount Mandeville, and was one of four hill stations for the Army.
St Elizabeth was named for Lady Elizabeth Modyford, wife of Jamaican Governor Sir Thomas Modyford. The parish of St Mary may also have been named after his daughter, Mary.