One of the first parishes settled by the Spaniards, the main port was named Santa Maria. When the British captured the island in 1655, the port was renamed Port Maria and the parish St. Mary.
St. Mary is located in northeast Jamaica. The land is mountainous especially along its southern borders in the Blue Mountains. There is a long history of human settlement first by the Tainos who lived close to the sea and along the Wag Water River. The Spanish had a strong presence in St. Mary, as evidenced by residual Spanish place names like Oracabessa and Rio Nuevo. At the latter site, a plaque bearing the following inscription has been erected:
On this ground on June 17 1658, was fought the battle of Rio Nuevo to decide whether Jamaica would be Spanish or English. On one side were the Jamaicans of both black and white races, whose ancestors had come to Jamaica from both Africa and Spain 150 years before. The Spanish forces lost the battle and the island. The Spanish whites fled to Cuba but the black people took to the mountains and fought a long and bloody guerrilla war against the English. This site is dedicated to them all.
The fight for freedom from slavery found early expression in St Mary in the Easter Rebellion of 1760, led by a man named Tacky. Residents in the parish were also involved in the islandwide Labour Riots of 1938. Four men from the town of Islington died in the riots and are commemorated along with Tacky and other citizens of St. Ann.
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