‘Destruction of the Boyne Estates by the rebel slaves in 1831. Boats of HMS Blanche engaging. 72 killed, 240 prisoners, Jamaica’

The uprising of 1831-32 in northern Jamaica was one of the most widespread and destructive in the British Caribbean colonies. The denial of an extra day’s holiday at Christmas, as well as rumours that full emancipation had been granted in Britain but was being withheld by the planters, ignited the simmering discontent of the enslaved population into full-scale rebellion. It began on 27 December 1831, with the burning of Kensington Estate, high above Montego Bay. At the end of a week of violence, 200 slaves and 14 Europeans had been killed, and communications had been cut off across the island.

This watercolour shows the navy being used to put down a violent rising by slaves in Jamaica. Sam Sharpe (d.1832) was a Baptist preacher who called for the enslaved to stop working from Christmas Day 1831, as part of a peaceful protest at the continuation of slavery. Violence quickly ensued after the Kensington Estate in St James in the west of the island was set ablaze, and the rising spread rapidly to other plantations, including the Boyne Estate. The authorities reacted swiftly and brutally to suppress the rebellion. In total over 500 slaves were killed. Sam Sharpe, despite advocating non-violence, was apprehended and hanged. The Christmas Rising played an important role in hastening the end of slavery. In 1975, Sharpe was declared a hero of independent Jamaica.

Object Details

ID: ZBA1585
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Boxer, James Fuller
Date made: 1830s
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Gift of the Executors of Mr and Mrs F H Boxer
Measurements: Sheet: 285 mm x 350 mm; Image: 150 mm x 196 mm
Parts: Album

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