Out of all the British colonies in the Caribbean, Spanish Town has the oldest cathedral. The Spanish were forcibly evicted by the English at Ocho Rios in St. Ann. In 1655 the English, led by Sir William Penn and General Robert Venables, took over the last Spanish fort in Jamaica. The name of Montego Bay, the capital of the parish of St. James, was derived from the Spanish name manteca bahía (or Bay of Lard), alluding to the large numbers of boars used there in the lard-making industry. Henry Morgan was a famous Caribbean pirate and privateer who had arrived in the West Indies as an indentured servant, like many of the early settlers.In 1660, the population of Jamaica was about 4,500 whites and 1,500 blacks, but by as early as the 1670s, blacks formed a majority of the population.
France outlawed the residence of Jews in their country in 1394. By 1660, Jamaica had become a refuge for Jews in the New World. A settlement of Jews had arrived in 1510, soon after the son of Christopher Columbus settled on the island. Primarily merchants and traders, the Jewish community was forced to live a clandestine life, calling themselves "Portugals". After the British took over rule of Jamaica, the Jews felt that the best defense against Spanish threat would be to make the colony a base for Caribbean pirates. With the pirates installed in its main port, Port Royal, the Spanish would be deterred form carrying out an attack. The British leaders were convinced of the viability of this strategy to forestall outside aggression.
When the English captured Jamaica in 1655 the Spanish colonists fled after freeing their slaves. The slaves fled into the mountains, joining those who had previously escaped from the Spanish to live with the Taínos. These runaway slaves, who became known as the Jamaican Maroons, fought the British during the 18th century. The name is still used today for their modern descendants. During the long years of slavery Maroons established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica, maintaining their freedom and independence for generations.
During its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar-exporting, slave-dependent nations, producing more than 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820 and 1824. After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, the British imported Indian and Chinese workers as indentured servantsto supplement the labour pool. Descendants of indentured servants of Indian and Chinese origin continue to reside in Jamaica today. Map of JamaicaBy the beginning of the 19th century, Jamaica's heavy reliance on slavery resulted in blacks outnumbering whites by a ratio of almost 20 to 1. Even though England had outlawed the importation of slaves, some were still smuggled into the colonies. The British government drew up laws regimenting the abolition of slavery, but they also included instructions for the improvement of the slaves' way of life. These instructions included a ban of the use of whips in the field, a ban on the flogging of women, notification that slaves were to be allowed religious instruction, a requirement that slaves be given an extra free day during the week when they could sell their produce as well as a ban on Sunday markets.
In Jamaica these measures were resisted by the House of Assembly. The Assembly claimed that the slaves were content and objected to Parliament's interference in island affairs, although many slave owners feared possible revolts. Following a series of rebellions on the island and changing attitudes in Great Britain, the British government formally abolished slavery in 1834, with full emancipation from chattel slavery declared in 1838. The population in 1834 was 371,070 of whom 15,000 were white, 5,000 free black, 40,000 ‘coloured’ or mixed race, and 311,070 slaves.