The Parish of Westmoreland
In 1710, Thomas Manning made a gift to Westmoreland, to endow a free school there. Established at Savannah-la-Mar, and incorporated in 1738, it is one of the oldest schools in Jamaica. The name Mannings now is synonymous with the parish of Westmoreland.
Formed in 1703, the parish is called Westmoreland most likely because it was created out of the lands in the west of Jamaica.
With ample rainfall and fertile soil, Westmoreland is ideally suited to agriculture. Around 5% of the parish, or 10,000-12,000 acres, make up a large freshwater wetland called the Great Morass. The Morass and much of the land around it are protected under the Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust. Three quarters of the remaining land consists of low hills well suited to pasture, and the rest of low alluvial plains run through by Westmoreland’s major rivers, the Cabaritta, Roaring, Great, and Negril Rivers.
The Westmoreland plains were, and remain, central to the production of sugarcane on the island. The Frome Sugar Estate, the largest in the parish, was the site of the 1938 Labour Riots. The Riots, which spread to many parts of the island, led to many major changes in the political development of the island. Most important of these changes was the advent universal adult suffrage in 1944.
In 1730 Savanna- la-Mar (Spanish for ‘plain by the sea’) became the parish capital replacing Banbury. Other important towns in Westmoreland are Bluefields, Bethel Town, Negril, Seaford Town, Grange Hill, Frome and Darliston.
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