St. Elizabeth became a culturally diverse parish, with people from all strata of society who were sociologically, religiously, politically, economically and linguistically different from each other. As the parish evolved, intermarriages between families, whether whites, ‘quadroons’ and ‘mulattoes’, became customary and was widespread across the island, with each group adhering to their set colour and class code.
St. Elizabeth’s divergent structure resulted in a parish with generations of people fairer in complexion than inhabitants of other parishes, with a distinctive accent than the English and local patois dialect spoken elsewhere on the island, even in modern twenty-first century Jamaica.1Large clusters of ethnic groups still exist in St. Elizabeth, including descendants of the seventeenth century planter families.2
This study builds on extant studies of historians, such as Trevor Burnard, Gad Heuman, Pedro Welch, Cecily Jones, Verene Shepherd, Lucille Mathurin Mair, Barbara Bush and other prominent writers. Much has been written of the lives and experiences of white women and black enslaved women, however, although women of colour were viewed in the historiographical context as exploiting their colour, sassy, more sexually inclined than the other women and concubines of white men, this study explores free women of colour in St. Elizabeth, who exploited the advantages presented to them, to improve their daily lives, that of their children and their posterity.
1. The Jamaican Gleaner published the following articles, which confirms the statement. Professor Geoff Palmer had published his book ‘The Enlightenment Abolished’, which shocked many Scottish people. Kevin Walsh, editor of the West Edinburgh Times, became aware of the arguments and went to Jamaica for more research. While there in 2008, the Jamaican Sunday Gleaner interviewed him regarding the Scottish involvement in slavery. His accent was described as ‘a touch of dialect very reminiscent of the people of South St. Elizabeth here in Jamaica’. Jamaica Gleaner, Sunday March 16, 2008 ‘Scots ashamed of role in Jamaican slavery’. In addition, Earl Moxam, the senior Gleaner writer wrote in March 2008,’generations of Jamaicans have looked at the fair skinned people of South St. Elizabeth with a mixture of curiosity at their distinctive appearance in a predominantly dark-skinned population and mild derision at their brand of Jamaican dialect and accent’. Jamaica Gleaner Monday March 31st 2008 ‘Scotsman searches for Treasure Beach descendant link’ http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080316/news/news3.html and http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080331/news/news8.html