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Ackendown Great House


 On the way back to Kingston, after a weekend hunting great houses in Hanover, we decided to track down Ackendown Castle which is supposed to be located across from the entrance of Whitehouse Sandals. Sure enough, we turned onto a road between two posts, headed up the hill and found the Ackendown Great House. The chain link gate was standing open so we parked our vehicle and headed toward the most obvious structure on the property, the great house. The house is abandoned, so I dutifully took pictures of the great house from all directions and even drew out a house plan.

The house appears to have had major modifications over the years. The original house was built (1750) prior to Archibald Campbell’s birth (1781-1833). It consisted of the back rooms on a square-cut stone and brick foundation that made up the original house. On top of this building appears to be wood and lime plaster construction (Spanish walling). It was connected by a paved courtyard to the kitchen outbuilding. It had a semi-circular stairs at the front of the house. The original roof was probably a gable roof that ran east and west. The back rooms which don’t have a basement are presently being used as a horse barn. More than a century ago (1878) Andrew Stephen Aguilar added a front wing with its separate east-west gable roof. This wing had a full basement made of cut stone and contains an oven on the east wall. Sydney Aguilar added east and west wings and converted the gable roofs into hip roofs (1920). Further additions were made at a later date to the rear on both the east and west (1950).   Most of the wood flooring is missing, leaving the basement open to the second floor of the south addition. In the living room, the wall wood supports are exposed and painted brown, with white plaster between the boards. The house is painted white with brown louvered windows. There is a large porch with stone steps on the front forming an arch beneath the floor.

It is thought that John and James Guthrie owned the property between 1710 and 1757. The Guthries were an important historical family in Jamaica. Between 1757 and 1784 the property was owned by William Beckford. From there the ownership gets somewhat muddled but eventually the property ends up in the ownership of the Campbells who supposedly built the Ackendown Castle. From 1869 to 1878, R. F. Thomas was the owner and then from 1978 to recently it was owned by the Aguilar family.

There is evidence of numerous buildings scattered around the property, including several storerooms connected by a pimento barbeque (a flat area for drying pimento). This would indicate that at one time, the plantation was used to produce pimento. West of the house is the Negro house piece where mounds of the previous houses are still visible. The July 1837 plan shows 32 structures averaging 15 feet x 20 feet in size scattered over nine acres. The plan also shows the fourteen acre provision grounds where the slaves grew their own food.

The great house is easy to find, directly across from the Whitehouse Sandals Resort gate. I wonder how many people, staying at the resort know that such an interesting structure is within a short walking distance?


Ackendown Great House Layout

Ackendown Great House Layout

Ackendown Great House Photo Gallery

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Ackendown Castle

On the way back to Kingston, after a weekend of hunting great houses in Hanover, we decided to track down Ackendown Castle which is supposed to be located across from the entrance of Whitehouse Sandals. Sure enough, we turned onto a road between two posts, headed up the hill and found the Ackendown Great House. It didn’t look much like a castle, but hey, no telling what is called a castle in Jamaica. The house is abandoned, so I dutifully took pictures of the great house from all directions and even drew out a house plan.

As I was drawing the floor plan, Bonita called out to me, “Hey, there’s another building off to the east.” I looked over and sure enough, there was a small stone structure without a roof. I fought my way through the underbrush and upon entering I found a 1962 diesel engine. The building in a later life must have been for other purposes than its original use.

As I was investigating the stone building, Bonita called out again, “There’s a wall over there. It looks like a church.” Again, hidden in the foliage was a two story tower with gothic arched windows. It had several graves just outside the doorway so I assumed it was a chapel of some sort until Bonita said, “There’s another tower over to the east.” It turned out to be another tower and in the underbrush, I discovered a stone wall between the two. A tunnel connects the two towers. The towers and the wall between were made of square-cut stone. The roofs as well as the windows have vanished. It appears that at one time the area was cleared of brush because there were park benches scattered about, but the site is slowly returning to the jungle.

The towers stand on a slight rise above and to the northwest of the Ackendown Great House. The two towers are constructed of square-cut limestone and connected by a stone wall of the same material and an underground tunnel (approximately 2 feet wide x 5.5 feet high). The towers are approximately thirty feet square and had three floors. The tunnel enters the basement of each tower. The basement of the west tower is said to have a tunnel that goes to the sea. The eastern tower has three rooms in the basement that were probably used for storage. In the western tower are two fireplaces set in the west walls of the second (ground floor) and third floors. In each tower the middle floor was raised to ground level. It is assumed that the third floor was constructed of wood which is no longer extant. There were two windows facing south (toward the Caribbean Sea) and one window facing east and west in each tower. There is a large amount of slate on the ground, indicating the roofs were once covered with slate shingles.

The masonry style is unusual for Jamaica; in fact the windows are reminiscent of many medieval castles. The arched openings are two centered with a central joint, no keystone and an even number of voussoirs (the wedge shaped stones forming the curved part of an arch). The castle may have been built for defense against a possible invasion by the French or Spanish but the large windows make me believe that might be unusual.

It is thought that the first Campbell in Jamaica was Colonel John Campbell who was born in Inverary in Argyllshire in 1673. He was part of a failed Scottish colony in the Darien Isthmus of what is now the country of Panama. Rather than return to Scotland, he decided to settle in western Jamaica and established a sugar plantation near Black River. He encouraged many of his nephews to come to Jamaica as planters and it may have either been one of those nephews or a grandson who built Ackendown Castle. He died in 1740 and the inscription on his tomb reads:


An equally deserving possible candidate for the establishing of Ackendown Estate would be Colonel John Guthrie, who was also one of the Darien refugees. In any event, John Graham Campbell, son of Colonel John Campbell married a Guthrie and eventually ended up with the estate.

The Campbells were related to Captain William Bligh (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) and it is not surprising that the first breadfruit trees from Captain Bligh’s second (successful) voyage were planted near the Ackendown estate, a locale of many Campbell settlers.

According to a stone plaque, the castle was built by Archibald Campbell (possibly a grandson of the above mentioned John Campbell) as evidenced by the plaque on one of the walls:


The only problem with that plaque, according to the Jamaican Almanacs published during the lifetime of Archibald Campbell, is that at no time was Archibald Campbell listed as the owner of Ackendown estate. The Jamaican Almanac lists his older brother as the owner of the estate. Whether or not Archibald built the castle is open for debate, but he certainly didn’t own the property. In fact, judging by the architectural look of the castle, it may have been constructed before he was born. In 1932, Archibald’s leaden casket was discovered in the floor of the east tower. His body was placed in an oak casket and buried north and adjacent to the west tower. At that time, a member of the Campbell family placed the plaque.   So the question for my readers is: Was the castle truly built by Archibald Campbell or his brother or the Guthrie family or was it built before he was born? Will we ever know?

The castle is easy to find, directly across from the Whitehouse Sandals Resort gate. I wonder how many people, staying at the resort know that there is such an interesting ruin within a short walking distance?

Ackendown Castle Photo Gallery

Ackendown Castle Location Map


New Shafston Great House | Part 3

George Pinnock Memoir

My sister Mrs. Grace March a short time before her death wrote a memoir of her early childhood and as I am now an old man and have in all probability very short time to live I wish to put on record a few words on the theme of my own childhood and early youth and at the same time to correct what I think are one or two errors unto which my sister has fallen.

I was born, according to my father’s record in an old family Bible, on the 13th March 1824 at New Shafston in the Island of Jamaica. New Shafston was an estate which contained according to survey an area of 2147 acres and two roads and was part of a larger estate called Shafston which formerly belonged to a Mr. Allwood, the father of the Reverend Robert Allwood at one time incumbent of St James Church in Sydney, New South Wales.

New Shafston was bought by my Great uncle Philip and was by him devised to my Grandfather George who allowed my father Philip to reside upon it and from the profits thereof to support himself and his family on payment of a yearly sum.

My mother was the youngest daughter of Dr David Grant, who at one time lived at Kingston in Jamaica and afterwards went to practice at Bath in England where my Mother was born. After the death of my Grandfather Grant his widow returned to Jamaica for a few years to look after some estates which her husband had possessed in Jamaica, and took my Mother with her.2

Before she went to Jamaica my Mother had been to a school in Bath and afterwards to one at Clifton kept by Miss Garret. My father had been educated at Westminster and during the holidays resided with his Aunt Mrs. Gwynne.

New Shafston is most beautifully situated on the south west coast of the Island of looking over a bay called Bluefields. To the east are wild headlands called Black River Heads and to the west is the most western point of the Island known as Negril Point about midway towards which from New Shafston is the town and port of Savanna-la-Mar. The shore of the bay a beautiful sandy beach abounding with shells is hidden from the view by a few low hills on which the original Shafston House is built; but as our house was on a rising ground above a rich grassy valley we had a very extensive view of the sea beyond, and above the house the ground rose into the mountains which were clothed with great varieties of timber trees. An old friend, a Mr. Senior, was the owner of Old Shafston as also of all adjoining property called Belmont where he lived.

My sister in her memoir says that our family is of Norman descent from whom she got that information I know not; but I am inclined to doubt its correctness. There is no doubt it came originally from France, but I am inclined to the opinion that it was of British not Norman origin. I base my opinion on two reasons. One is that the name formerly spelt Pynnoke has more of a British than a Norman sound, and the other is that in the county of Cornwall, where the inhabitants are chiefly of British origin3 there is a large village or market town not far from Liskeard called St Pinnock. But it is a matter upon which I do not pretend to give any certain opinion.

The earliest event which I can remember occurred when I was about two years old. I had been taken by my father and mother to my Grandfather’s place near Kingston to be christened. I remember being a long way from home, and that I was being borne in my nurses arms when we came close to a windmill. We came very close to it, and when I saw the enormous sails which appeared to be coming over my head to crush me I screamed most lustily. I mentioned the circumstances some years afterwards to my mother and she said that it occurred near Montego Bay on the northwest coast of the island on our return to New Shafston after a very fatiguing journey over the mountains.

From this time my memory is a blank until I was about 4 years old when I had my brother Philip as my companion and playmate, and about which time he was christened, he was a daring precocious child, and soon began to talk very boldly. I remember my father saying to him “The clergyman is coming to christen you tomorrow and I hope you will behave quietly” to which my brother putting up his little fist replied “I will say you Sir knock him down.” However when the time came for the performance of the rite he behaved with becoming propriety. Another amusing incident was when a woman peddler came to the house with a basket full of wares of different kinds amongst which were a number of small shoes for children. One of the pairs was of red morocco which seized my brother’s fancy but they were alas, too small for him; but he would not be satisfied until he had them, and a slit was made in the insteps of each shoe, so as to enable him to put them on his feet.

Shortly after this my brother was seized with a severe illness, and for a day or two his life was despaired of. At great expense the service of two doctors was obtained and at last a dose of some very powerful medicine was given. Soon after the administration of which he recovered.

Not many months after the occurrence I have above narrated took place, I met with a serious accident. My brother and I got hold of a steel stiletto out of my mothers work basket with which we began to dig at a knot in the dining room floor. My brother was digging and I was looking intently over him watching his operations when unfortunately the instrument slipped up suddenly and the point entered my left eye. I was for several weeks confined in a dark room, with my eyes were tightly bandaged, and I was fed nothing but milk. This was a weary time indeed; but at length the trial came to an end and the bandage was taken off my eyes, and I was allowed to have my liberty once more.
Our life was on the whole a very monotonous one. During the heat of the day we were not allowed to go out of the house; but in the early morning, before sunrise we were dressed and taken on a ride on mule back to the seashore to play on the sand and gather shells. On our way we passed along a wall enclosing Old Shafston where there were peacocks and peahens and we sometimes added to our own spoils by telling the Mulatto lad who accompanied us to clamber over the wall to pluck a few feathers from the tails of the peacocks. Sometimes we brought home fruit, such as oranges, sweetsops, soursops and mangoes which grew luxuriously in the open ground. For the mangoes the boy Jack had to climb a large tree which grew near the house. We also went occasionally to the cattle yards where the cows were being milked and had a glass of fresh warm milk. At 8 o’clock, after we had returned home we had breakfast and then went hard to work at our lessons. My mother was the teacher and she was most assiduous in her labours. What hard work it was for me to learn the multiplications table! I found it terribly hard and I often thought my dear mother very cruel to put me to such mental torture. However I got over it at last and before I was six years old had learned the four first rules of arithmetic and could also do exercises in long division and the rule of three, and could also read tolerably well.

There was a book called English Stories- Traditions from English History; such as the story of Fair Rosamund Hubert and Bruce Arthur. The murder of Edward the 5th and his brother in the Tower and several other tales in all of which perhaps, there was as much fiction as fact, but they were very platonically told and I shed many a tear over them. I was also much interested in a book called Northern Regions – a narrative of the voyage of Captain Parry to the North Pole. I also used to read to my mother Goldsmith’s History of England and his History of Rome; and my father who had a good voice taught me a song of the Kings of England beginning

“The Romans in England they once did away
“The la-ors they after them led the way
“They tugged with the Danes till an overthrow
“They both of them got by the Norman bow.”

It then went on through the whole list of English Kings from the time of William the Conqueror to the time of George the third.

It cannot be wondered at therefore that, for my years, I had a fair knowledge of English History. I remember going one day with my father and mother to an estate near our own called Mount Edgecumbe. The dwelling house was a very large one standing on a headland over the bay, and derived its name on account of its situation everything that of Mount Edgecumbe in England.4 The owner at Wedderbern resided in England and the estate was managed by a burly Scotsman named Cameron who showed us over the house in which was a room hung with numerous oil paintings. At one end was a picture which attracted my attention.  It represented two boys in bed and asleep and a ruffianly looking man bending over them. I drew my mother’s attention to it and said ‘Oh Mamma! That is a picture of Edward the 5th and his brother the Duke of York who are to be murdered.” Cameron who was standing by quietly said, “The eluel has a laughead”. The other books my mother used to make me read to her were Miss Edgeworths’ Harry and Lucy, and Rosamund and the book called Landford and Mertor; but I took no interest in them and reading them was somewhat of an infliction to me.

Such was our home life varied occasionally by the arrival of travellers when the services of our mulatto servant who was an excellent cook and had the facility of making a great deal out of a very little at the shortest notice were called into requisition. We sometimes also visited our neighbours the Lewis‘s and also the Scotts who lived at a place called Hopeton about 7 miles inland from Shafston and it was a great pleasure to me to go to the latter place; they were very kind people, added to which Mrs. Scott was a very pretty woman and beauty was ever a great attraction to me. Another episode in our home life was the annual visit of my father to his father who lived at a place called Clifton at the other end of the Island near Kingston. He was generally gone for about a fortnight and how we counted the days when he would return! Of course he brought us all presents; but I can honestly say it was not chiefly for that we longed for his return, but because he was so good and kind to us. How soon, alas was this time of happiness to end!

But the evil day was not to come until an event had happened which added to our happiness. On the 27th April 1829 my youngest sister Charlotte was born. My elder sister my brother and myself were sent a day or two before the event occurred to the overseers house on the plea that my mother was ill and wanted the house to be kept very quiet and Ann Prendergast was to take care of us and see that all our wants were supplied. We of course, had great difficulty in spending our time to our satisfaction and the best thing I could find in the way of amusement was in reading a book I got from the Overseers shelf. A book of horrors with numerous illustrations adding much to the horror of the book. Among other stories was one of a living skeleton. It was a particularly dreadful story and the only one in the book of which I have any recollection. But we were not to remain very long in our place of exile. In a day or two we were told we could return to the house if we were very quiet. When we entered we were shown into the room where my mother was lying and were told to go round to the side of the bed furtherest from the door and then to our surprise the sheet was raised and we beheld our newborn sister.
When my mother recovered, things took their ordinary course except that for the first two or three weeks our lessons were not attended to as usual. Our little sister grew apace. She had a beautifully fair complexion with golden hair and features very much like those of my father, and when the sad occurrence which I am about to relate took place, was the pride of our house.

But now the time of happiness was drawing to a close. Towards the end of the year 1830 my father died at the age of 45 as my sister Grace has described, and bitter was the grief of my mother and the whole household. It was the first time I had been brought face to face with death; and that I should never again see him whom I so dearly loved was a grief which it was hard to bear. Well do I remember viewing from an upper window with my brother and sisters the procession which bore him to the grave. We all of us wept and sobbed aloud and often did we go to the place where he was laid- under the shade of a large Shaddock tree in the garden behind the overseers house, close beside his uncle Philip and his wife. All consecrated ground to all but ourselves.

At Christmas time in the following year the Negro insurrection took place which has been described by my sister. I remember the warning sent us by our kind friend Mrs. Senior, and as for the reasons stated by my sister all of us could not go that evening, and my life, as heir to the property, was decided to be most in danger, advantage was taken of the gig which was sent by Mrs. Senior to take me to Savannah-la-Mar the nearest port to Shafston. I was packed in the early morning between Miss Senior and the lad who drove us, and after a sad leave taking, the necessity in which I hardly realized, we went our way. After a journey of between two and three hours we arrived at Savannah la Mar the first town I remember to have been. I remember that the church and the displays in the shop windows although the town was a small one filled one with surprise and I fear, drove away much of the sorrow I had left in leaving my home and the dear ones there. We drove to the residence of Mr. Thomas Hill, a retired naval officer, situated on flat ground near the sea a little to the eastward of the town, and entered a room where I was introduced to a beautiful lady [Mrs. Hill] and several naval and military officers, among them Captain Owen Commander of the war sloop Blossom which was then in the harbour. The Governor of the Island was not there, as my sister Grace alleges in her memoir. Indeed, at such a time it would have been most improper. The rebellion was wide spread over the whole island and to have left Spanish Town the headquarters of the Government would have been a gross violation of duty and would have been putting his own life in peril.

There was a great disparity that night at Mr. Hills’ at which of course, I was too young to be a guest and I was sent early to bed in a room which Mrs. Hill kindly afforded me. In the morning I became acquainted with my first friend Tommy Hill bigger than myself and rather wild and uncared for, whose acquaintance with me my mother did not encourage.

In the evening of this day, when it was getting dark, my mother and the rest of the family arrived and Mrs. Hill intended to them the occupation of the room in which I had slept the night before, until lodgings could be obtained for us in the town. These were fortunate enough to obtain during the following day in the house of a Mr. and Mrs. Malartre in the principal street and not far from the water. Mr. Malatre was a little man and belonged to the militia, and I remember his coming home one night after having had a narrow escape. For the next morning exhibited his military hat the colour of which had almost been torn off by a bullet. The town was under martial law. At the top of the principal street where two roads met, one from the east and the other from the west, two cannons were placed, one pointing down the eastern road and the other pointing down the western road, and all day and night they were in the care of artillerymen; and no one was allowed to go out after nightfall without giving the password. This used to be given to us by the hands of a young midshipman called Hawkey. My mother and I looked upon him as heroes and envied him the small sword which he wore at his side, and which we often got him to put upon us; but as he was a much bigger boy than either of us and the waist straps was too loose for our small bodies he would place it over one shoulder so that it could hang there from and pass over to the opposite side. This arrangement though not comfortable was quite to our satisfaction. The day however Hawkey did not arrive; the reason for which we were told was, that he had been making too free with his weapon, and had been placed under arrest.

We had one night a great alarm. Crowds of people entered the town crying that the rebels were upon us. There was great crying and lamentations and Mr. Malartre’s house was taken possession of by a mob. Many desired to be taken to the war ships and were very up gregarious because their desire was not complied with.  The terrible night however passed away without the anticipated catastrophe; and when the morning came the alarm was found to have been a pointless one.

While at Savannah-la-Mar we often heard of the dreadful deeds of bloodshed and murder; but the only case I can remember was one of which a Mr. Holmes was a victim. He was nailed to a cross and shot at till he was dead and his unfortunate wife was made to look on at the terrible spectacle and was afterwards, a prisoner, made to work for her husband’s murderers; but after a week or two she was rescued.

I remember the death at Savannah-la-Mar of my Uncle Sam’s widow narrated by my sister – Aunt Louise as we used to call her. There was a large procession to the Church and my brother and I were taken to the funeral in a basket carriage. This was the second time on which I had been brought face to face with death.
While at Savannah-la-Mar my mother received a letter from my Aunt Mary Ann informing her of the riots at Bristol and the ravages of Asiatic cholera at Gloucester where my Aunt was then residing with my Grandmother Grant.

About the beginning of February the rebellion was well nigh quelled and it was then for the first and only time I saw Sir Willoughby Cotton, the Commander of the Island Forces. As all was then deemed quiet he was taking his ease at Mr. Hill’s. He was a stout fat man and lay during the hotter part of the day in a hammock in the verandah twisting a corkscrew. I have not spoken much of Mr. Hill. He was a tall broad shouldered man and looked more like a guardsman than a sailor. He was very amusing in his conversation but invective. He tyrannized over his beautiful wife of whom, after exhausting his body by uproarious mirth he would sit and ruminate till he had regained his composure.

In the month of February of 1832 the rebellion was smothered, and it was thought we could return again to our home. About half a dozen of our Negroes came and volunteered to row us in an open boat to our place. My mother not wishing to show any fear consented to accept the offer and she, Grace, little Charlotte and myself accordingly went with them and were soon wafted to the beach near Shafston. My brother Philip who was afraid of the water but had a passion for horseback went on his pony under the escort of the mulatto boy Jack, and arrived at the house soon after we did.

My mother was contemplating a return to England where she would join her mother and sister and have our education attended to. The means of course had to be obtained and at length, after reposition with my Grandfather George it was agreed that the necessary funds should be allowed us for the voyage and £200 for our support out of the income of the estate. So all being ready on the 2nd June 1833 we went on board the ship ‘Caroline” lying at anchor in Bluefields Bay.

A ship of 700 tons burden bound for Bristol. There were no ocean steamers in these days. The Captain was a Mr. Smith a tall quiet well behaved man. His chief Officer a Mr. Barker was a little forward man with large black whiskers. The passengers besides ourselves and our old Negro servant Susan Scott were an old lady and a Mrs. Daley who was a cripple, and her niece Miss McAdam and a young man of the name of Suttor. During the whole of the 2nd of June and the greater part of the 3rd we were kept lying at anchor in the bay waiting for the Captain who had gone to Savannah-la-Mar on some necessary business connected with the ship. Whilst he was away I observed an optical puzzle which much surprised me. The ship scourging on its anchor appeared to me motionless, but the land appeared to me to be continually shifting its place. At one time it was seen on the starboard side, at another on the port side, sometimes at the stern and at other times at the prow; but before proceeding with the narrative I wish to back a little to mention that all the Negroes on the estate accompanied us to the shore to bid us farewell. Many of them shedding floods of tears. Poor Souls! I fear their lot was not as comfortable with the Agent and Overseer as it had been with us and my good tender-hearted father when he was alive, and I have no doubt their hearts were full of anxious foreboding as to the change which was about to take place.

On the 3rd of June, my brother’s birthday he was then just 7 years old. The Captain arrived late in the afternoon and the order was given to weigh anchor. This was a novel sight for us little ones and we stood watching the sailors at work at the capstan with the greatest of interest. Then the sails were set and we began to move. The darkness was now coming on apace. There is very little twilight in those regions and we soon had to retire below. My mother and two sisters occupied one of the after cabins, Mrs. Daley and her niece the other cabin, and my brother and myself occupied a cabin between us, next to our mothers on the port side of the ship, and on the starboard side opposite to us was Mr. Suttor’s cabin.

Had we not been children to when all things we saw were new we should doubtless have found the six weeks tossing and tacking about in the Atlantic dreary enough. The [                   ] and often seabirds were a great source of interest to us, and we also caught two or three sharks which the sailors dispatched with great cruelty when they were dragged to the deck. The sailors beat the animals with lagging rods until, added to the want of their natural elements they were quite exhausted and one of the sailors went behind the animal and cut off its tail with a large knife when is soon died from loss of blood. I felt very much for the shark; not so the sailors for they regarded the brute as their natural enemy and had no sympathy with them.

Our little sister Charlotte was a great nuisance and once she amused all who saw her by strutting up the deck as she had seen the Captain do and addressing the quartermaster said “How’s her head”?

I must now describe our fellow passengers; Mrs. Daley was an old lady and as I have before said was a cripple and she remained all day in her easy chair in her cabin. Her niece Miss McAdam was a girl of about 16 or 17 years of age and on account of her Aunts’ infirmity had very much her own way and used to make love to the Chief Officer. One day when they were engaged in a flirtation on the deck my brother crept behind the young lady and pinned up her petticoat and as she was leaving the deck after the flirtation was over. The cabin boy who was a bit of a wag went up to see and said “If you please Miss there is a reef in your topsail”. My brother and I were very mischievous and on one occasion we managed to get hold of some dress clothes which Mr. Suttor had left out to air and stuffed them with straw which the cabin boy procured for us so as present the figure of a man, and put upon it a hideous device like a human face and then eased it up at the end of Mr. Suttor’s berth. When we retired as it was supposed to bed, we waited patiently with our cabin door half open to see the result. At length Mr. Suttor entered his cabin and immediately we were petrified by hearing a shout of horror. Mr. Suttor however was a good natured man and soon forgave us when he heard who were the culprits.

On another occasion when Mr. Suttor was sleeping on the quarterdeck my brother espied a tarpot and brush close by: he could not resist the temptation and immediately began to give Mr. Suttor whiskers and moustache. Before the operation was performed however Mr. Suttor awoke and catching hold of my brother a tragedy might have been averted had not two or three sailors who happened fortunately to be close by promptly came to the rescue.
Mr. Suttor was very fond of eggs and generally had one or two for breakfast; but alas the eggs were not always fresh as they should have been. One morning he broke two or three one after the other only to find them stale and unpalatable. At last he broke another only to find the commencement of animal life. That was too much for him and he sorrowfully declared he had had enough.

When six weeks had just passed we came near to the English coast, when a pilot came aboard. A short plump man, as all pilots should be. He had been beating about all day and night in search of a job and when he came on board was very tired and went at once into a round house at the stern end of the quarter deck for a rest. Grace, Philip and myself not being aware of the pilots arrival went by chance into the round house, where my sister Grace observing what she thought was a soft bundle sat down upon it but was immediately startled by a fierce grunt and the movement of the bundle which was under her found to her dismay that she was sitting on a living body. Thus elicited from her a faint cry and we all skedaddled as quietly as possible from the place.

Thus ended all the adventures and fun we had had upon our voyage. The next day we passed Lundy Island and its light House on our left and quickly entered the muddy Severn.

How different to the sparkling hue of Bluefields Bay! The scene was enlivened however by the green fields and woods of the Somerset coast and gaily dressed people taking their walks on the land. The river now began to get narrower and sailors were standing in the shrouds or either side of the ship throwing leads working out the depth of the water. The pilot, to whom the Captain had some time previously given the charge of the ship, was very busy giving his orders through a speaking trumpet and all sailors were working without a moments spell. We saw smaller craft at a short distance from us stranded in the mud, and as last our ship could go no further as we were obliged to await the return of the tide which did not take place until late in the afternoon of the next day when the pilot with his speaking trumpet; and the sailors renewed their labours and we were turned into the narrow stream of the Avon. This was a spectacle quite new to me. Never had I seen a large ship in a narrow river. On either side were steep banks either of which a stone might have been thrown from the deck. Horses were pastured by a rope on the Gloucestershire side to the ship and the pilot his speaking trumpet were in greater evidence than ever and the sailors toiled with renewed effort until passing the majestic St Vincent’s Rocks we were turned into the floating dock at Bristol. Our voyage was at last at an end. The speaking trumpet was heard no more.

Shafston Great House Photo Gallery

New Shafton Great House-2 New Shafton Great House-11 New Shafton Great House-10 New Shafton Great House-7 New Shafton Great House-6

Shafston Great House Location Map



New Shafston Great House | Part 2


Grace Elizabeth Pinnock born 13 Feb 1822 Shafston, Jamaica: wife of John Milbourne Marsh


I was born of English parents in the West Indies, I. of Jamaica in the year 1822 where my Father was looked upon as the heir to great possessions. Our family were – … must say of it? Of Norman descent and settles in those early days in the county of Berkshire where the name is still known by many a nook and hamlet. (The name – Pinnock – was originally spelt Pynnoake1 in connection with some legend of the pine and the oak of which it was a corruption.) The armorial bearings – I am told by those who understand Heraldry – show great antiquity, and bear unmistakenable proof of belonging to the Norman period. Some of our ancestors distinguished themselves in the days of the Commonwealth and obtained grants of land from Cromwell in the County of Worcester.

My Father was a man of high culture and refinement, educated – I may almost say adopted – by Mrs. Gwynne his Aunt, of Ford Abbey, Devonshire who idolized him, and with whom he had every advantage both socially and intellectually. She was rich and left him a great deal of money at her death, but which, owing to some negligence on the part of the lawyer who drew up the will, he never got, some branches of the family taking advantage of this and putting in a prior claim on account of seniority. He was about six feet in height and extremely handsome. I never saw a more beautiful expression of countenance, a true indication of his character which was affectionate, kind and benevolent. He was of a calm placid temper, but firm in exacting obedience. How as children we loved him and he still lives as warmly as ever in memory’s shrine.

My Grandfather was greatly respected. And held one of the first positions in the Island, being for many years President of the Upper House and Lieut. Governor. He entered the Navy, but it at his Father’s desire at an early age. My Grandfather and himself were, in the first years of their married life, much about the British Court, where the former was greatly admired for her beauty and the splendour of her jewels, a small portion of which eventually fell to my Mother’s share. My mother was of Scotch descent – nearly allied to the Grants of Arndilly and Munymusk – fair in complexion, with a good forehead, deep grey eyes, and faultless teeth, otherwise she was decidedly plain in feature. She was only 16 when she was married2. Her figure was perfect, and she was always exquisitely dressed. Her hair – but how shall I describe it: such hair was rarely ever seen. It was of a rather light shade of brown with a golden hue and shone like satin, quite long enveloping her and hanging like a mantle to the ground, her pretty feet just peeping from beneath as white as alabaster and models for sculptor. In manner she was bright and cheerful and fond of society.

One day my Father remarked that he thought she was as nearly the height of the Venus de Medici3. My Mother said she was almost sure she was rather above the height. Accordingly, by general consent, her measure was forthwith taken and she was found to be two inches taller. This, we children declared to be a decided improvement. We knew nothing whatever of the Venus, but what did that signify?

Our house was peculiar in structure, and could not lay claim in any way to be considered architectural; but it was very much after the plan of the houses at which we visited, and therefore, I conclude, best suited to the climate. The walls of stone were thick and substantial. The dining and retiring rooms were in the centre. A long Piazza ran at one side, fitted up its whole length with jalousies which excluded the heat and admitted the air. On the other side as you passed through the dining room were a long drawing room and a smaller room beyond. A staircase at the end of the Piazza led to the nurseries and bedrooms above. The rooms were large and lofty. There were no doors except to one or two bedrooms on the first floor, and they were of polished mahogany. We moved from one room to another under arches and alcoves, very much as I imagine is still the case in hot climates in many parts of the world. This produced, to my mind, an air of space and grandeur which. Child as I was, I liked. All our floors were kept highly polished, and I used to be very much amused in watching the Negresses on their knees rubbing away, and at the same time keeping up a loud accompaniment with their toes. As each one began to rub, away went the ten toes keeping up the sound till, having accompanied a piece to her satisfaction, she would move on and begin afresh. The movement of the toes could hardly have been called musical and was most ludicrous. I am told the Japanese polish their floors in an exactly similar manner at the present day.

A quaintness, and in some respects I may almost say an appearance of incongruity, pervaded the interior of our home not easy to describe. The total absence of curtains and draperies of all kinds gave a bare look and would not have suited our modern aesthetic tastes. They would have been too delightful a harbour however for scorpions, centipedes and other reptiles, not perhaps even excluding a stray snake now and then. In many parts of the house were unsightly beams, rough hewn and unpainted passing from wall to wall high overhead. I never could understand what they were for, unless to give additional strength and support in times of hurricanes. There were two in our large drawing room the furniture of which was handsome. Being of ebony inlaid with gold; the contrast was remarkable. In the pretty smaller room beyond our drawing room we usually breakfasted after our early morning rides. It was cool and commanded a lovely and extensive view of the ocean and Heads or points of land jutting out in the distance. On the bay formed by one of these points stood the town of Savannah le Mar, and behind it set the sun. Those glorious sunsets which must be seen to be understood! Evening after evening I used to go to my favourite corner and watch with delight the gorgeous and ever varying shades of colour which no pencil could portray. The recollection of those sunsets has never faded from memory. In the dining room a sideboard stood at one end covered with handsome family plate. On the right hand side as you entered, large oval glass mirrors were inserted in the walls in gold frames; chained eagles adorned the top holding golden wreaths in their beaks from which depended garlands and leaves forming the frame, not unlike in character to the frames you sometimes see round Italian pictures. On the opposite side of the room the windows looked upon terraces and hanging gardens, and beyond undulating ground stood two magnificent trees covering a large space – truly giants of the forest. – To what species they belonged I never knew. They went by the name of the silk cotton trees. They bore a pod very much like the pod of the ordinary tree filled with a silky fibre. I have seen them described in later years in books of travel in South of America as growing in the forests there and always exciting wonder and admiration from their size and beauty4. On a rise a little in the distance beyond, there were peeps here and there through the branches of our cotton trees of the pretty Negro settlement embowered in palms and all the lovely and luxuriant foliage of the tropics; and above and beyond all this, hills upon hills arose. Wherever you turned the scenery seemed always fresh and exciting, you could never weary of it. With its birds and flowers and brilliant colouring, Jamaica, so far, was truly a paradise on earth, and few spots can I think bear comparison with it.

And now, having talked of my home, I must say something of myself: my first strong recollection of anything – and I must have been a very wee dot then- was of tearing down a long Terrace in terror of my life, with a black maid after me, a monster of a woman – as I though her – standing at the top of the Terrace determined to bore my ears for pendants. I was naturally soon captured, and I conclude operated upon as I have been able to wear earrings ever since though often under protest. I can recollect nothing more beyond being tightly held down; perhaps I lost consciousness. My Father and Mother who were travelling with me to our home – Shafston – were suddenly, when half-way on their journey recalled to Kingston. Afraid to take me with them on account of the climate at Montego Bay, I was left in charge of my Uncle Mr. Grant5 and his wife. I conclude she was fond of finery being of French extraction. Her Father was the Chevalier – something, and she was the niece of Lewis the friend of Lord Byron, better known as Monk Lewis. The consternation of my parents at all I had gone through on their absence was great. They declared I had lost all my high spirits and was crushed. The incident is hardly worth noting except that as warning to those who have the care of very young children, that they should study their characters: for a severe look or reproof of which we of older growth think nothing may have very serious and lasting effects on a timid sensitive child. It is impossible to be too careful of such tender plants. I have suffered seriously from nervousness all my life, and I attribute it in some degree to this little episode6.

As soon as my edger brother and I were old enough much care was bestowed on our education and we both soon learned to read and write well for our ages. Alas in those days there were no books or information, no illustrations, no picture books of any kind for the infant mind; it was all hard dry study from babyhood onwards. We soon leant Miss Edgeworth and Sandford and Merton by heart were wrecked over and over again in the ‘Royal George,’ mourned with Cowper over his Mothers portrait, and rode the race with Johnnie Gilpin to the Inn at Edminton. My brother who had a retentive memory learnt the English History in two small volumes by heart and could not be puzzled as to a date. This to my mind who never could remember a date or add up a figure was alarming, and I began to look upon him with awe.  When all this was accomplished what were we to do? I appealed to my mother in despair and was told I could read ‘The Tempest,’ but I was on no account to look further into Shakespeare. There was also the 1st Vol. of Lord Chesterfield’s letters, and if I cared to look into it [with a smile] there was ‘The Whole duty of Man.’ I need hardly say I left this latter to repose in dignity on its shelf. Lord Chesterfield did not please me I shut him up after the first chapter and have never taken him out since7. ‘The Tempest’ made me long for more; but I was on parole and so reluctantly returned the book to its place in the library.

So when the daily lessons were over the tine hung rather heavily. My second brother was rather too young to learn and never took to letters. My recollection of him in later years was seeing him racing up the staircase, his tutor after him whip in hand, till having gained the attics, he would disappear in some hole or on the leads where no one could follow him, and the poor discomfited breathless tutor would have to give him up for that day as he took care not to make his appearance again till lesson time was over.

As stated periods of the year all the Negroes on the Estate assembled on the stone Terraces to receive donations of salt fish of which they were very fond, also dress materials, beads and gay handkerchiefs which they twisted up into picturesque head dresses as some of the peasants do on the Continent.  The brighter and the greater the variety of colours the better, and very nice they looked. Occasionally, and always at Christmas they had a dance in our long Piazza; this they called “Johnnie Canoeing.” The men came masked with triangles and a small drum here and there. Their voices were musical and they had a good idea of time and tune. My Mother in fun and unseen in a corner of the dining room contributed sometimes to the music with a comb over which she drew a piece of paper tightly and hummed through. Dancing and singing were kept up with thorough enjoyment but all so decorously. There was no vulgarity, no unseemly noise. And yet all were perfectly at their erase and happy as could be. I often think that in most aboriginal tribes there is a natural grace and refinement of manner that is rarely attained even by the highest culture. We children – those who were not afraid of the masks – looked on with great delight enjoying “Jonnie Canoe” quite as much as the performers.

My impression of the African Black, taken however chiefly from that period is, that compared with most wild tribes, he is of a superior race – intelligent, capable of much attachment honesty, and truthful. On our own and the adjoining Estates the Master was the friend and counsellor to whom they all looked in perfect confidence, feeling that he had their interests at heart and around whom they clustered as children looking up to their Parent. Of course many of them were very ignorant and their morals not of the highest order: but they were open to reason, and, in the absence of Churches and Clergymen till the Moravian Missionaries came amongst us, they would have been left in total ignorance and in their old habits but for the efforts of the ladies on the various Estates who were indefatigable in teaching them and having schools for the children. On looking back I may truly say I have never through life seen such unselfish devotion and love as I then witnessed; it made an indelible impression on my mind. My Mother did much in promoting the married state. She had long and serious conversations with some of the young people; and shortly afterwards it was rumoured, and in a little while it as announces, that three marriages were to take place, and there was great arrangements of white muslin dresses trimmed with quillings of white satin ribbon under the direction and guidance of my Mother who had suggested the idea. It was quite a gala day to look forward to and helped more than half way I am afraid, to make the marriage ceremony popular from thenceforth.

The great difficulty was the Church. I have said above that there were no Churches; they were at least very few and very far between, and I remember seeing a Clergyman but once when he came to christen the two year old Baby. A Church as well as a Clergyman were both however forthcoming for this occasion. We made it a two days’ journey to get to the Church, staying at a friend’s house on the way. The little edifice was crowded and the Brides looked so well in their low-necked white dresses and bead necklets and pretty head dresses, the Bridegrooms properly radiant with large bouquets of exquisite exotics in their buttonhole. Shortly after this we had frequent visits from the Missionaries – a most excellent people of whom the world now appears to have lost sight. They seemed to endeavour in every way to lead the lives of the early primitive Christians, and if self denial and devotion to their work could achieve anything they certainly deserved to succeed. Their rules were peculiar. They had one purse in common, and were I believe under the rule and guidance of a Head, and a small Committee who provided each member and his family with the means barely sufficient for their necessities. Their wives were chosen for them. They were often perfect strangers to each other till they met at the altar. For instance, the wife for the Missionary who came to our house was sent to him from Iceland. They seemed very happy and well suited to each other, and my Mother said she was a very nice person.

In the year 1831 a great misfortune befell us in the sudden death of our Father. In the prime of life and in good health carried off by one of the fevers by which in those days people were so liable to be attacked. He had gone on his daily round as was his wont over the Estate, on this day a greater distance than usual, and was overtaken by a thunder storm. There being no shelter he was soon drenched. Putting spurs to his horse he rode home as quickly as he could, feeling however, almost a doomed man for he had got a chill.  Fever set in, and in a few hours he was gone. There was no medical man at hand, and had there been, it is doubtful if human skill could have saved him, especially as the very indifferent Doctors who wandered over the country knew but little of the science of Medicine or how to treat a patient8. The shock to my Mother was so great that for some time her own life was despaired of, and in such an event, arrangements were made with a dear friend to take us home to our relatives in England. However her life was mercifully spared. What should we have done – poor little mites – without our Mother!

After all this terrible trial we seemed to lead a very quiet life going nowhere, and seeing no one, till one afternoon as my Mother and I were seated on the lawn in front of our house we were attracted by seeing in the distance a number of mounted soldiers riding past and almost at the same moment a messenger arrived in breathless haste with a note to this effect: “What are you doing? Are you aware that the Negroes are up in arms? The Estate all round in flames, the families being massacred. We go by water, as safest to Savannah le Mar to-morrow at day dawn. Sent your boys to us at once as their lives are in most danger, and get off yourself as quickly as you can.” My eldest brother went with the messenger, the younger one could not be persuaded to leave us and so had to take his chance. My Mother ordered the close carriage to be got ready immediately for the rest of the party – a handsome yellow carriage as I can remember it, the fashion of the day. She found to her dismay that the overseer and all the most intelligent and reliable men on the Estate had been suddenly drafted off to join the militia.

We were therefore left without protection of any kind and to the tender mercies of the ignorant among our black people. It never occurred to them that the horses not having been used for some time required exercise before they were put into harness. They were a beautiful spirited pair imported from England by my Father shortly before his death. Blackie, without any more thought than a child, harnessed them and put them in at once with the result that they kicked and plunged and finally broke the pole. It was quite certain after this that we could not start on our journey that evening; but fortunately there was a double Phaeton and a pair of quiet ponies which were got ready for an early departure the next morning. As night closed in we were put to bed but not undressed so as to be ready for any emergency that might arise. I was the last going to the Nursery, and as I was wending my way thither having scarcely reached the staircase, I found myself suddenly carried along by a wave of Blackies. They had all with one consent come “to protect” they said, “their dear Master’s family;” that should we be attacked during the night by the horde of Barbarians who were in arms and who, we understood, were likely to come down upon us, they would defend us to the last and shed their last drop of blood in our cause. And they meant it dear souls. It was very touching. They then declared their intention of remaining and occupying the lower part of the house throughout the night.

My poor Mother in such an awful position, not knowing but what at that moment an evil spirit or two might be in the crowd – fear as he afterwards discovered not altogether unfounded – shewed great bravery on the occasion. She stood calmly at the head of the staircase and after listening to what they had to say she made a short speech thanking them for their loyalty and devotion, and assuring them of her perfect reliance and trust in their promises to protect us in case of need to the best of their power. She said afterwards that she never doubted our own people, but she knew they were a mere handful to stand against the overpowering numbers who might rush down from the mountains at any moment and either destroy or intimidate them.

However no catastrophe took place throughout that fearful night, and at early dawn we started on our journey to Savannah le Mar. We met with no adventures, but halfway on our journey we passed one desperate looking character armed. It was a lonely spot, and we feared, and thought it more than probable that he had comrades hiding in the thick scrub in front of which with his arms folded, he stood. My Mother with the presence of mind and courage which never seemed at this trying period to forsake her, desired the coachman to show no fear and not to alter the pace at which we were driving.

On reaching our destination we found the town under martial law and we had to get the pass word before we could be allowed to enter. Imagine our dismay when we did so, to find the place so crowded that not an available spot of shelter could we find. A friend, fortunately hearing of our distress sent to say that she had one large room she could spare us till we were able to make other arrangements.  It was very good of her, as the Commander in Chief Sir Willoughby Cotton and his suite and a large party already in her house. The Governor was at Head Quarters at Kingston. We were received with much kindness and hospitality, and I thought her an angel of light: for I never saw a more beautiful apparition than appeared before us at our room door to welcome us.

We were not long in obtaining accommodation in a house close to the water’s edge, where in case of the town being attacked, we could make our escape to one of the ships lying in readiness to take off all refugees.

We had hardly settled ourselves in our new abode before my Mother heard a sad tale of a lady in the last stage of dropsy, utterly neglected and alone, without even proper attendant domestics, and in the midst of the rebels. On inquiry it was found that she had been the wife of a Brother of my Mother. He was in the Navy and lost his life in consequence of his exertions in the midst of a violent storm when in command of his vessel9. She had often visited at our house and was a kind, pleasant, lively person, so we liked our Aunt Louise.  The connection however had been greatly severed when, after some years of widowhood, she married again – a gentlemanly handsome man, but a mauvais sujet who, I fancy, treated her very unkindly, and at least with utter neglect. My Mother at once determined to rescue her from her perilous position and tend and comfort her in her last moments.  It was a fearful risk for her to run, but securing a large comfortable apartment close to where we were residing she started off with every provision for her comfort, and accomplished her errand of mercy in safety. Our windows looked straight across to where our home stood, and we used to gaze so anxiously morning after morning to see if it was possible to detect any signs of conflagration.

It was quite piteous to hear by brother G10 as he looked, muttering to himself, “My poor Shafston shall I never see you again!” and such a relief to feel, ‘well for this day there seems to be no actual cause for distress”, when as we turned from our window the skies looked bright and clear, and smokeless.

Whilst at Savannah la Mar I went to Church on Sunday morning and heard our English service for the first time; I was deeply impressed, especially with the Litany, the grandeur and beauty of the language of which struck me most forcibly.

We made the acquaintance in our little social circle of a young middy whom we always addressed as ‘Hawkey.” He greatly enjoyed his visits to us which were frequent when off duty, and used to bring us the pass word which was often changed, He was very proud of his uniform and his dirk, and we gratified his vanity by admiring him immensely, as children do admire in all sincerity.

The rebellion was put down rather more easily than I think, could have been at first anticipated. It was serious enough while it lasted. Its horrors – the desolation of homes, the barbarous cruelties peculiar to savage warfare which were enacted too often on the good and innocent, I need not describe. They are being detailed in all their barren hideousness in our daily chronicles as taking place even now in other parts of the world, all too harrowing, but for a fortunate mistake as to the date fixed for the rising which was to have been general throughout the country, no white person would have been saved. As it was only partial; As soon as order was sufficiently restored we returned to our home and found everything in perfect order just as we left it 11.  Our faithful people said they would bury the plate and the best of the furniture, and I do not doubt they did. Nothing was missing, nothing was even scratched.

Then at home we had always had a gathering on Sunday for morning service. When the Missionaries were with us extra numbers assembled for morning and evening prayer. On the occasions at the end of the morning service the young people were regaled with corn and coconut cakes and all sorts of good things and I was generally allowed to go to the housekeeper’s room to assist in distributing the refreshments. Like everything else however in this world this was soon to come to an end. The property was entailed on my eldest brother12.  It was necessary to get an agent to manage the estate, and when this was accomplished my Mother decided to take us to England and join her own people. So in the year 1833 we quitted for ever our happy island home and severed those ties formed in early childhood, the void of which nothing can ever fill up. It was the wisest, and indeed the only course my Mother could adopt. It was necessary for our health and education and also for her, as her own nerves were so completely shattered after all she had gone through that she needed a thorough change of scene. She never in fact quite recovered the terrible strain of those last three years. Her strong faith and trust had been throughout her main stay and prop, her guide and support.

On the morning of our departure whilst my Mother was giving her final instructions, my brother G. and I found ourselves kneeling together to weep or pray, or a little of both. I know not – by the side of a beautiful carved mahogany bedstead which would make the fortune of Christie & Hanson in these days. Inscribed upon it was the name of an ancestor of ours – one of the former Governors of Jamaica – Sir John Dalling Bart. The title is extinct now as he died without a heir13.

Altho’ the Emancipation Act and become law, it was not to take effect for 3 years. We felt much therefore at parting with our Negroes, and leaving them in the hands of a stranger who could never be to them what their dear master had been; and my Mother decided that our old nurse who had been with us more peculiarity than any of the others in our troubles, and had been a great comfort in many ways should be the one chosen to accompany us to England. One chief reason for this was that on touching English soil she at once became free. Susan was a most interesting character, deeply and truly religious. The clergyman whose Church we attended used to delight in having long conversations with her, and was very much stuck with her knowledge of the Bible, her apt quotations and her choice always of the finest parts, the Gospel of St. John for instance; and the opening chapter “In the beginning was the Word” delighted her, and Isaiah the XL chapter I think – ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” She did not like England; she was too black she said, and  everyone stared at her; and the contrast was all the greater as my lovely little sister – fair as a lily – was her constant charge whom the foolish people stopped to admire wondering why she was not black also. My own especial maid who was a brunette with finely chiseled features – a beautiful woman – married our overseer some time previous to our departure; and our housekeeper, Mrs. Prendergast – wondrously plain but as good as gold – found a most happy comfortable home for life with a Jewish family in London who were most kind to her. We used to see her sometimes in later life.

I think in looking back into history we can trace the commencement of England’s greatest first of all the suppression of the slave trade after a hard fought battle of many years with the merchants of Liverpool and Bristol, who found it much too lucrative a trade to give up without hard resistance.

Having accomplished this, her most glorious achievement was the emancipation of the Blacks from slavery; but in this as in most great revolutions there was much hardship, much cruelty, falling on the innocent. England did what she could towards alleviating the suffering, but the money raised in compensation, although a large sum in itself, was ludicrously small when it came to be divided. Nor was the emancipation at first by any mean a boon to the Black people. Their wants were few; they all had their gardens in the mountains which provided them with food and vegetables in abundance and as much money as they needed; and then they could always cast their burden of trouble or sorrow on the master and the friend ever ready to help them.

This state of things I conclude, wore away by degrees. Blackie has doubtless asserted himself long after this, and the Jamaica of my day no longer exists. Nevertheless, I should like to see the old place once more.

We were utterly ruined, one misfortune seeming to happen on top of another.  When Mother married her marriage ‘dot’ was 1600 pounds a year; when we left Jamaica our income – very irregularly paid – was 200 pounds per annum – the sum allowed for my brother’s education. It was hard – almost impossible – to bring down the mind suddenly from the refinements and comforts of life which money gives, independently of previous training, to the hard drudgery of every-day life, and I am afraid my poor Mother never did find the way although she did her best.

I add a few remarks of my eldest brother after reading the above which may add interest to the manuscript.

That the family originally came from France there is no doubt; the name originally spelt ‘Pynnoake’ – but I am sure inclined to the opinion that it is of British origin, and not Norman. One reason for my thinking is that in Cornwall there is a small town or large village near Liskeard called St. Pinnock. Besides, the name appears to me to have more of a British than a Norman sound, and you of course know that there is a province in France called Bretagne or Brittany, where are people of the same race as most of our Cornish and Welsh fellow – countrymen.

The town is rightly called Savannah le Mar, Jamaica was conquered from the Spaniards in the time of Cromwell, and the Spaniards follow the Latin orthography closely, more so than the French do. The name signifies a flat place by the sea.

  1. Grace’s note ‘See Debrett’s Armory’.
    2. Probably about 1818.
    3. More likely ‘Venus de Milo’.
    4. The Silk Cotton or Ceiba Tree [Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.] is one of the largest trees in the American tropics. The tree has played an important role in the spiritual and economic lives of the peoples who live in the circum-Caribbean region.
    5. Very likely this Mr. Grant was, son of Dr David Grant. But which one – . Alexander Grant b. 31.3.1790 or Thomas Charles Grant b. 19.11.1784; either of whom we have any details as to marriage or death. A search 30.12.08 revealed nothing in the IGI.,
    6. Grace perhaps was suffering from what we call depression. However she was able to name her reaction to the trial she suffered when being separated from her parents at an unexpected and long period..
    7. ‘Lord Chesterfields Letters to his Son’, were published in four volumes from about 1759. They were largely a way of teaching children how to live in the world as Chesterfield knew it. High quality editions are very expensive these days. There is a lesser quality edition in Betty’s collection – with Milbourne March’s book plate, dated 1771; Within Betty’s archive there are letters from Lord Chesterfield to Milbourne Marsh.
    8. Universities in Scotland were known to issue diplomas to Jamaican men who undertook a correspondence course in medicine. Hence the poor quality of medical treatment. Non-the-less Philip Pinnock would have needed to have been treated with an antibiotic which is a 20c. development.
    9. This could have been Lt. Samuel Grant who died in Portsmouth 18 May 1817 – however he was 24 years; If alive in 1831:  38 years – a young woman with dropsy is most unlikely.  We know nothing of the two elder brothers Thomas Charles b. 1784 age in 1831 47 years. We know absolutely nothing of David Grant [III] the ½ brother; Probably born between 1862 and 1883. If alive in 131 the David Grant [III] could be as old as 69 years.
    10. George Pinnock.
    11. See Wikipedia ; ‘During the Christmas holiday of 1831, a large scale slave revolt known as the Baptist War broke. It was organized originally as a peaceful strike by Samuel Sharp. The rebellion was suppressed by the militia of the Jamaican plantocracy and the British garrison ten days later in early 1832. Because the loss of property and life in the 1931 rebellion, the British Parliament held two inquiries. The results of these inquiries contributed greatly to the abolition of slavery as of August 1, 1834 throughout the British Empire. However the Jamaican slaves remained bound to their former owners’ service, albeit with a guarantee of rights, until 1838 under what was called the Apprenticeship System. The freed population still faced significant hardships, marked by the October 1865 Morant Bay rebellion led by George William Gordon and Paul Bogle. It was brutally repressed. The sugar crop was declining in importance in the late 19th century and the colony diversified into bananas”.
    12. In 1840, a return of land owners indicates that George Pinnock was still in position under his entail.
    13. He was in fact Lieutenant Governor.

Shafston Great House Photo Gallery

New Shafton Great House-1 New Shafton Great House-5 New Shafton Great House-13 New Shafton Great House-17 New Shafton Great House-15

Shaftston Great House Location Map


New Shafston Great House | Part 1

Bonita and I made our way up the steep, rugged, rocky road through a dense tropical forest. After ten minutes of travel, we turned into a level area and were greeted by the baying of several dogs. In front of us was the white New Shafston Great House, perched on the side of the mountain. The view was jaw-dropping. The light blue of Bluefields Bay contrasted with the dark blue of the sky and the deep green of the surrounding mountains. The colors of green were broken up, here and there by the bright reddish-orange of royal poinciana trees. From New Shafston Great House, the view of the bay exceeds 180 degrees. New Shafston is most beautifully situated on the southwest coast of the Island. To the east are wild headlands called Black River Heads and to the west is the most western point of the Island known as Negril Point about midway towards which from New Shafston is the town and port of Savanna-la-Mar. The shore of the bay, a beautiful sandy beach abounding with shells, is hidden from the view by a few low hills on which the original Shafston House was built; but the new house is on rising ground above a rich valley that has a very extensive view of the sea and above the house the ground rises into the mountains which are clothed with great varieties of timber trees.

Oristano was founded by the Spanish in 1519, after they determined that the north and northwest coasts were too malarial for healthy living. Bluefields Bay was one of Jamaica’s most protected anchorages and the surrounding mountains provide ample spring water. Following the invasion by the British in 1655, the name was changed to Bluefields (or Blewfields on the oldest Jamaica maps).

In 1670, Henry Morgan, the pirate used Bluefields Bay as his gathering place for his fleet, prior to his sacking of Panama in January of 1671. In 1793, Captain Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame, finally managed to get his precious breadfruit from the South Pacific to Jamaica and planted the first trees along the shores of Bluefields Bay.

By the 1700s, the Bluefields Bay area was the richest sugar producing area on the island of Jamaica. It was here that the Shafston sugar estate was established. Early in the history of the estate, the great house was positioned at the bottom of the mountains, but due to the prevalence of malaria, the owner chose to move the great house up the mountain to its present cooler, breezier location (see the above painting reproduction). In the early 1700s, the Phillip Pinnock purchased 2,147 acres of Shafston Estate from a Mr. Allwood and called it New Shafston. A Mr. Senior purchased the adjoining portion and renamed it Belmont. The estate was originally planted in sugar cane but when the price of sugar plummeted following slavery emancipation, the agricultural interests were converted from sugar to pimento, lime juice and logwood production.   Phillip Pinnock deeded over the estate to George Pinnock, the grandfather of the George, the younger. George Pinnock willed the property to Phillip Pinnock, the younger. Life at the great house is well documented by George Pinnock, the younger and his sister, Grace Elizabeth Pinnock. George was born at the Shafston Great House in 1824 and Grace in 1822. They, with their mother, left Jamaica in 1833.

These siblings lived through the historically turbulent time of western Jamaica. They personally witnessed the Christmas slave rebellion of 1831, also known as the Baptist War. It was originally supposed to be a peaceful Christmas strike led by Samuel Sharpe, a Baptist Deacon, but quickly degenerated into a full-fledged rebellion with the extensive loss of life by both the families of the planters and the slaves. The rebellion was quickly and brutally suppressed in only ten days into 1832 but the news of the rebellion and its aftermath quickly led to a call in England for the emancipation of the slaves. The slaves were emancipated on 1 August 1834.

The house, undoubtedly, has had many modifications, and these can be noted if one compares the description of the house by Grace Elizabeth Pinnock and the photographs presented in this post. Grace writes:

Our house was peculiar in structure, and could not lay claim in any way to be considered architectural; but it was very much after the plan of the houses at which we visited, and therefore, I conclude, best suited to the climate. The dining and retiring rooms were in the centre. A long Piazza ran at one side, fitted up its whole length with jalousies which excluded the heat and admitted the air. On the other side as you passed through the dining room were a long drawing room and a smaller room beyond. A staircase at the end of the Piazza led to the nurseries and bedrooms above. The rooms were large and lofty. There were no doors except to one or two bedrooms on the first floor. The floors were of polished mahogany. We moved from one room to another under arches and alcoves, very much as I imagine is still the case in hot climates in many parts of the world. This produced, to my mind, an air of space and grandeur which, Child as I was, I liked.

The jalousies of the white great house, in the long piazza on one side, have been removed and windows installed. Since the great house has been used as a guest house, the large dining room has been converted into guest rooms. The highly polished hardwood floors that Grace writes about are now painted red. The kitchen, detached from the house, still maintains its brick oven and slate shingles (slate was used due to the fire hazard from the cooking). The house still maintains its outstanding verandah, overlooking the Caribbean. Of course the pool, the solar power and the zip line system are new additions. The shingle roof is now corrugated metal and I imagine a lot of the wood siding has been replace over the last two hundred plus years.

If you’re interested in viewing the great house or spending the night, give Frank Lomann a call at 876-869-9212. You can also visit their website at or email at him at

New Shafton Great House Photo Gallery


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New Shafton Great House Location Map