‘Females of Abandoned Character?’

Women and Protest in Jamaica, 1838–65
  • Swithin Wilmot


Woodville Marshall’s illuminating study of post-slavery protest emphasised the importance of viewing the ex-slaves as ‘historical agents, with clear perceptions of their world and striving to preserve or re-shape it.’ This approach has been developed in other studies of protest in the post-slavery period in Dominica, Tobago and Trinidad. They underline the involvement of women in street demonstrations and labour protests.1 This article expands the area of discussion to Jamaica, where women featured in various protests between 1838 and 1865, the period between full emancipation and the Morant Bay rebellion. None of these protests were exclusive to women, but it is hoped that this focus on them will deepen the understanding of the role of women in Jamaican history as they struggled as part of a disadvantaged people in a society emerging from slavery.2


Black Woman Labour Relation Sugar Estate Black Carpenter Violent Confrontation 
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  1. 1.
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  2. 3.
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    For two examples of references to ‘Bogle and his men’, see Mavis Campbell, The Dynamics of Change in a Slave Society: A Sociopolitical History of the Free Coloreds of Jamaica, 1800–1865 (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1976), p. 336, and Don Robotham, ‘The Notorious Riot: The Socio-Economic and Political Bases of Paul Bogle’s Revolt (Kingston: Institute of Social and Economic Research, 1981), p. 89. For two examples of the women as stonethrowers and ‘on the side of the main body of the crowd’, see Sydney Olivier, The Myth of Governor Eyre (London 1933), pp. 214–21, and Thomas Holt, The Problem of Freedom (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), pp. 459–60. For a work which includes a gender perspective in a discussion of the Morant Bay rebellion, see Clinton Hutton, “Colour for Colour’: The Ideological Foundation of Post-Slavery Society, 1838–1865, the Jamaican Case’, unpublished PhD. thesis, University of the West Indies, 1993.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Department of History, U.W.I., Mona, Jamaica 1995

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  • Swithin Wilmot

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