Sligoville, established in 1835 in the parish of St.
Catherine, was the first post emancipation free
village to be established through the industry of
the formerly enslaved in collaboration with the
Baptist Church in Jamaica. Located to the north of
Spanish Town, the settlement occupies lands in an
area formerly known as Highgate.
It was also the site of and estate and great house
of the same name. The area was also known as
Government Mountain. Highgate was at one time owned
by Howe Peter Browne, the 2nd Marquess of Sligo who
was Governor of Jamaica from 1834 to 1836. This
period was the beginning of the emancipation of the
enslaved and was also the advent of the system of
Stipendary Magistrates, established to monitor the
transition to full freedom.
Lord Sligo’s tenure in
Jamaica was marked by constant friction with the
House of Assembly, where he was perceived as being
overly sympathetic to the newly liberated enslaved
people. He also found himself in conflict with some
of the Stipendary Magistrates, whose conduct towards
the formerly enslaved he found unduly harsh. The
unrelenting imbroglio became untenable and
eventually Lord Sligo tendered his resignation to
the Secretary of the Colonies, returning to England
The area in which
Sligoville developed had been the location of
Baptist missionary activity since 1829 led by native
Baptists George Lisle and George Knibb. Rev. James
Murcell Phillipo became involved in the area in 1834
and established a Baptist Church there in 1835.
On July 10, 1835,
Phillipo bought 25 acres of land for £100 on which
the village of Sligoville was established. The land
was subdivided into ¼ acre lots and sold to the
emancipated slaves for the sum of £3. The list of
the original purchasers of lots included:
William Hy Cooper
Thomas Hy Cooper
In October of 1835
construction of a school and Church building began
and was completed in time for the celebration of the
first emancipation day on August 1, 1838. On June
12, 1840, the village of Sligoville was formally
dedicated. It was named after Lord Sligo in honour
of his contribution to the process of emancipation.
Sligoville was one
of a number of free villages established in post
emancipation Jamaica. Others in St. Catherine
included Kitson Town, Clarkson Town and Vale Lionel.
By 1844 there were 116 free villages spread across
six parishes of the island with some 18,365 houses
Sylvester. 1984. The history of Sligoville.