Hamilton Brown

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Hamilton Brown
Died18 September 1843 (aged 66–67)
Occupationplanter, politician
Known forFounding Hamilton Town

Hamilton Brown (1776 – 18 September 1843) was a Scots-Irish planter, slave owner, and politician in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica which he represented in the House of Assembly of Jamaica for 22 years. Brown founded the settlement of Hamilton Town in Saint Ann Parish, which was named after him.

Early life[edit]

Hamilton Brown was born in 1776,[1] to an Ulster-Scots Presbyterian family in County Antrim, Ireland.[2][3]


A plantation in Saint Ann Parish. James Hakewill, 1820s.

Brown began his career as an estate bookkeeper[4] but acquired significant land holdings and agricultural interests in the British colony of Jamaica. He was a pen-keeper (cattle breeder) and was responsible for a large cattle fair held on Pedro Plains in Saint Elizabeth Parish in 1829.[5] He also grew sugar[6] and owned the Antrim, Colliston, Grier Park, and Minard plantations, all in St Ann, as well as having interests in numerous others.[3]

He gave his name to Brown's Town, originally known as Hamilton Town, in St Ann, which he founded,[4][7] and in 1805 he paid for the construction of the original St Mark's Anglican Church in Brown's Town.[8]

He was a member of the House of Assembly of Jamaica in 1820[9] and represented Saint Ann Parish in that assembly for 22 years.[7] In 1832, he met Henry Whiteley on his trip to Jamaica to whom he argued that Jamaican slaves were better off than the English poor and therefore the British government should not interfere with the way the Jamaican planters managed their slaves; Whiteley went on to witness harsh and arbitrary whipping of slaves at the plantations that he visited during his stay.[10]

According to the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership at the University College London, Brown was awarded a payment under the Slave Compensation Act 1837 as a former slave owner in the aftermath of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The British Government took out a £15 million loan (worth £1.46 billion in 2022[11]) with interest from Nathan Mayer Rothschild and Moses Montefiore which was subsequently paid off by the British taxpayers (ending in 2015).[12] Brown was a prolific slave owner in the context of Jamaican society and was associated with a large number of claims, twenty-five in total, he owned 1,120 slaves most of them on sugar plantations in Saint Ann Parish and received a £24,144 (equivalent to £2.34 million in 2022[11]) payment at the time.[13]

Brown was active in trying to recruit Irish people to work in Jamaica. In December 1835, 121 people from Ballymoney, Antrim, set off from Belfast for Jamaica on the James Ray, a brig owned by Brown. They settled in St Ann. In 1836 he brought a further 185 Irish people to Saint Ann. An effort by planters in 1840 to encourage large-scale Irish migration to Jamaica to settle lands that might otherwise be occupied by newly-freed slaves, failed after the project was criticised in Ireland as potentially transforming the migrants into slaves.[14]


Brown died on 18 September 1843 and is buried in the Protestant graveyard of St Mark's Anglican church in Brown's Town, Jamaica.[3][7]


  1. ^ Senior, Olive. (2004) Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage. St. Andrew: Twin Guinep Publishers. p. 76. ISBN 978-9768007148
  2. ^ Rodgers, Nini. (2007) Ireland, Slavery and Anti-Slavery: 1612–1865. Springer. p. 88. ISBN 0230625223
  3. ^ a b c Hamilton Brown Profile & Legacies Summary. Legacies of British Slave-ownership. University College London. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b Place Names in St. Ann. The National Library of Jamaica, 2015.
  5. ^ Gardner, William James. (1873) A History of Jamaica: From its Discovery by Christopher Columbus to the Year 1872 &c. London: Elliot Stock. p. 268.
  6. ^ Shepherd, Verene A. (2009) Livestock, Sugar and Slavery: Contested Terrain in Colonial Jamaica. Kingston: Ian Randle. p. 93. ISBN 9789766372569
  7. ^ a b c Uncovering secrets in Brown's Town. Robert Lalah, The Gleaner, 10 July 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  8. ^ St Mark's Anglican, Brown's Town, St Ann. Jamaican Ancestral Records. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  9. ^ Hakewill, James. (1825) A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica, From Drawings Made in the Years 1820 and 1821. London: Hurst and Robinson & E. Lloyd. p. 13.
  10. ^ Whiteley, Henry. [1834] (1833). Three Months in Jamaica, in 1832; Comprising a Residence of Seven Weeks on a Sugar Plantation. Newcastle: Anti-Slavery Society. pp. 3–4.
  11. ^ a b UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  12. ^ Kris Manjapra (29 March 2018). "When will Britain face up to its crimes against humanity?". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Hamilton Brown". University College London. Retrieved on 20 March 2019.
  14. ^ Mitchell, Madeleine E. (2008) Jamaican Ancestry: How To Find Out More. Revised edition. Heritage Books. pp. 110–112. ISBN 978-0788442827

Further reading[edit]

  • Senior, Carl H. "Robert Kerr: Emigrants of 1840 Irish Slaves for Jamaica", Jamaica Journal, No. 42 (1978), pp. 104–116.

External links[edit]