Jamaica has a long history with the Irish immigration from the 1660s through the 1840s. In 1655, the English invaded and took the island from Spain. The wealth this colony brought back to England was simply unimaginable.
The first Irish were indentured servants in the 1600s. This would shift to the massive African slavery. The two groups intermarried creating a distinct “Black Irish.” Many Loyalists from the mainland went to the island during and after the American Revolution. By 1785, the population stood at 30,000 whites, 10,000 “free colored,” and 250,000 slaves. The slaves were emancipated in 1834, and new workers were imported including Irish from counties Antrim and Kildare.
Jamaica is divided into parishes, and records are classified by this system. Some parishes have been absorbed into others. Reference works to guide you through the many records are Madeleine E. Mitchell’s Jamaican Ancestry: How to Find Out More (2008); Stephen D. Porter’s Jamaican Records: A Research Manual (1999).
The Jamaica Archives and Records Department in Kingston: www.jard.gov.jm houses the primary records of the country. Large collections are on microfilm at the Family History Library: www.familysearch.org The state religion from 1655 was the Anglican Church. Quakers, Jews, Roman Catholics, Methodists and Moravians all had a historical presence. The best way to trace Quakers is in the Philadelphia Friends records transferring from Jamaica, as most had left by 1749.
Records can also be found at the National Archives (KEW): www.nationalarchives.gov.uk Genealogy sites include “Genealogy in Jamaica”: www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jamwgw An equally amazing website is “Jamaican Family Search”: www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com The “Caribbean Genealogy Research” website has a Jamaica page which has handy inventories: www.candoo.com/genreseources/jamaica.htm
Because, Jamaica was such an important colony in the British Empire, a wealth of records were left behind from which to trace your Irish roots. This crosses all color lines.
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