Early Years Part 1


The Jamaica Free School is first mentioned in the Jamaica Almanack for 1810, when the Rev. G. Ledwich was the “Master”, and Mr. Burton the “Assistant”.

In 1815, a vacancy existed, in the Headmaster’s post, hut William Burton was still the assistant. In the 1816 Almanack, the Rev. L. Bowerbank was Headmaster; there was no assistant, and in the Almanacks from 1818 to 1825 the Headmaster was the Rev. Urquhart Gillespie Rose, succeeded in 1826 by Rev. Geo. Watson Askew, B.A., until 1828. In 1829, the Rev. T.H. Gegg, A.M., is the head, then I do not see the school mentioned again until in the Almanack for 1855 when the H.M. is the Rev. O. Handford, M.A.

A gap occurs in the Almanack from 1851 to 1855, and the Rev. Morrison-Myers then appears until 1861; he is succeeded in the 1862 Almanack by the Rev. John Leslie Main, B.A., who held the post until he resigned it about 1883. An extract from the Handbook of Jamaica 1883, relates the remaining history of the Jamaica Free School thus: (p341) “Provision is made by Law 34 of 1879, “The Schools Commission Law”, for the provision of a School to he called `The Jamaica High School” at which there shall he provided a good liberal education. Free education and maintenance is by the same Law to he provided for a limited number of scholars to be called “Foundationers”, and the school is to be opened to all religious denominations … The Jamaica Schools Commission accordingly now hold all funds and property of what was the Jamaica Free School for the purposes of the Jamaica High School. The funds and property of the schools transferred to the Commissioners consist of the proceeds of the sale of the house and estate at Walton near Moneague in the Parish of St. Ann, amounting to 1,120 and the annual sum of 996 payable in perpetuity by the Government under 28 Vic., cap. 23, this being interest at the rate of 8 per cent on a sum of 12,451.16s which has been funded with the Government.

The property named Barbican in St. Andrew was rented for the school which was removed from Walton on the 1st February 1883. A sift as obtain- ed at Hope, where the school was opened in 1885. The Rev. William Simms, M.A., succeeded Mr. Mais and became the first headmaster of the new school, the buildings of which are still in use, as “Jamaica College”.