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JAMAICA – PAIR (2) ORIGINAL MSS. VIEWS / SLAVERY / IMMEDIATE POST- EMANCIPATION ERA

4,500.00

 

A pair (2) of historically important original manuscript sepia views, depicting 1) the Great House and windmill of Perrins’s Estate, one of Jamaica’s leading sugar plantations, and 2) the St. Dorothy’s (or the ‘Tamarind Tree’) Church, established in 1681, which is today one of the oldest and most culturally significant churches in Jamaica; executed to an unusually high degree of artistic skill, in 1848, during the immediate post emancipation era, they are perhaps the earliest surviving images of these places which played such large roles in the story of the island.

 

1 in stock

Description

This pair (2) of original manuscript sepia drawing depicts: 1) The great house and windmill of Perrin’s Estate, one of the most valuable sugar plantations in Jamaica, located in the ‘Vere Parish Sugar Belt’; and 2) the St. Dorothy’s Anglican Church (popularly known as the ‘Tamarind Tree Church’), which is one of the oldest surviving and most culturally significant churches in the former British West Indies. Executed to an unusually high degree of virtuosity by an anonymous artist, they were both made in 1848, aboard a ship, the Barque Liverpool, as it lay just off Jamacia (one of the views specifies the location as being Morant Bay). Likely, the artist took pencil sketes of both the Perrin’s Estate and St. Dorothy’s Church on scene during a tour of the island, and then used these sketches to create the present, more refined, works in sepia, while awaiting his departing for Britain.

Significantly, while we could stand to be corrected, to the best of our knowledge both works are the earliest known surviving images of these key Jamaican historical sites, with their value augmented by their high technical quality and verisimilitude to reality.

 

#1.
Anon.

“Perrins / A Sugar Estate / Vere”.

Manuscript, drafted aboard the Barque ‘Liverpool’, 1848.

Manuscript, pen and sepia ink on wove paper (Very Good, some minor spots, light toning, especially to righthand margin, light stain in lower right corner), 22.5 x 32.5 cm (9 x 13 inches).

This finely executed view depicts the ‘Great House’ of the Perrin’s Estate, one of the largest and most profitable of all Jamaica sugar plantations. Founded in the 1740s, in the Vere Parish Sugar Belt, of southern Jamaica, along the banks of the Rio Minho, the estate came to occupy 1603 acres of some of the best agricultural land in the West Indies. It was established by the merchant William Perrin (d. 1759), a great sugar baron who owned five major estates in Jamaica that were willed the to his son, William Phillip Perrin (1742 – 1820). In its heyday, Perrin’s Estate employed as many as 300 slaves. In 1820, the estate was inherited by Perrin’s nephew, Sir Henry Fitzherbert, 3rd Barnet (1783 – 1858). In 1835, following the abolition of slavery, Fitzherbert was compensated £5495 14s 11d by the British crown for the loss of 258 slaves, then a colossal sum.

While most sugar plantations in Jamaica withered in the wake of the abolition of slavery and falling sugar prices, the Vere Sugar Belt was so productive that Perrin’s Estate remained profitable for some years, employing many of its former slaves. The estate was dissolved in the late 19th century.

The present drawing captures Perrin’s ‘Great House’ in 1848, during the immediate post emancipation period, when the estate still prospered under Fitzherbert’s absentee ownership. The great house, which is captured from the front, at an oblique angle, is of the classic 18th century Jamaican style, with a double stairway above an arch, leads to a portico, and then into the piano nobile. The house was built of stone, with a wooden roof, and with shutters on the windows to protect from hurricanes. In the background, to the left, are some supporting buildings and a windmill, the key power source for grinding the sugarcane.

As far as we are aware, this is oldest surviving image of the Perrin’s Great House, which we gather fell into ruin in late 19th century. It grants a stellar insight into how a leading Jamaican sugar plantation appeared during what was still a prosperous period.

[and:]

 

#2.
Anon.

“Tamarind Tree Church & Rectory / Old Harbour”.

Manuscript, Morant Bay [Jamaica], drafted aboard the Barque ‘Liverpool’, March 1848.

Manuscript, pen and sepia ink on wove paper (Very Good, some minor spots, light toning, especially to righthand margin, light stain in lower right corner), 22.5 x 32.5 cm (9 x 13 inches).

This lovely sepia drawing was clearly made by the same artist as No. 1 above, and depicts the St. Dorothy’s Anglican Church, historically known as the “Tamarind Tree Church”, due to the large arbor that graced its approach until the mid-20th century. Importantly, St. Dorothy’s is one of the oldest surviving churches in Jamaica, if not the former British West Indies. The church and its rectory were built in 1681 on a 30-acre parcel of land donated by Colonel Thomas Fuller (d. 1690), one of Jamaica’s first great sugar planters and an esteemed veteran of the military campaign that conquered Jamaica from Spain (1655-8).

The building served as the official church of St. Dorothy Parish, a jurisdiction that existed in Jamaica between 1675 to 1866 (whereupon it was merged into St. Catherine parish). Located about 2 km from the market town of Old Harbour, St. Dorothy’s served a prosperous sugar-growing region, and its congregation included some of Jamaica’s wealthiest and most powerful figures. Due to its distinctive red brick construction, with white wooden shutters, and its triangular roof, the church was also affectionately known as the ‘Old Harbour Barn’.

The present view depicts the church with the front gate taken from an oblique angle, which is framed by two large tamarind trees. The church’s main entrance is visible, while the rectory can be seen in the background, to the left.

Later in the 19th century, St. Dorothy’s church was renovated, with a belfry added, although it has largely retained its traditional character to the present day. Today, the church lies at the heart of vibrant community.

While another early image of St. Dorothy’s Church may exist, we have not been able to trace any references to such a work, augmenting the historical significance of the drawing.

References: N/A – Both views seemingly unrecorded. Cf. [re: #1. Perrin’s Estate:] Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery (online): http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/estate/view/2769; Papers of Perrin’s Estate: https://phys.org/news/2015-08-documents-reveal-price-britain-slave.html and
https://calmview.derbyshire.gov.uk/calmview/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=D239%2FM%2FE%2F24059; [Re: #2. St. Dorothy’s Church:] Franck CUNDALL, Historic Jamaica with Fifty-Two Illustrations (London: The West India Committee, 1915), pp. 130-1.

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