This King’s Topographical Collection map of Jamaica emphasises the island prospering under British rule. Jamaica became an English territory in 1655, when it was captured from the Spanish, and continued to be part of the British colonies for 300 years until it gained independence in 1962. Anglicised place names litter the map, marking parishes, ports, rivers and settlements. Renaming and redefining the landscape of Jamaica was one way for the British to assert their dominance over it. An inset map of Port-Royal Harbour is included at bottom left. This was the capital of Jamaica at the time, and centre of shipping commerce for the island. Powerful trading conglomerates used the port to move stocks in and out of the country. The estates where sugar cane was cultivated are seen throughout the map, identified via symbols on the key at top right. Indigo works, cotton fields, cacao plantations, cattle and pig pens are also shown. The map gives a false impression of peace and prosperity – Jamaica’s sugar economy was built on the brutal slave trade.
- Article by:
- David Lambert
- Waves of history
After the Caribbean was first colonised by Spain in the 15th century, a system of sugar planting and enslavement evolved. David Lambert explores how this system changed the region, and how enslaved people continued to resist colonial rule.
- Article by:
- Miles Ogborn
- Military and maritime
Jamaican Maroons fought two major wars against the British during the 18th century. With reference to maps and views in the King's Topographical Collection, Miles Ogborn investigates these communities of escaped slaves and their attempts to retain their freedom in a landscape of slavery.