image courtesy of Boston Public Library | Licence: Public Domain
image courtesy of Boston Public Library | Licence: Public Domain

Montpelier Estate, St. James's

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From the Collection


The property of C. R. Ellis, Esq. M.P.' From 'A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica' by James Hakewill (1778-1843).

MONTPELIER Estates, the property of Charles Ellis, Esq. M.P., are situated in the parish of St. James, at about ten miles from Montego Bay. They are part of a large tract of land, consisting of about 10,000 acres, which stretches across the valley of the great river from the hills on either side, and is divided by that river into two portions, of which about 8,000 acres are in the parish of St. James, and about 2,000 in the parish of Hanover. The latter forms a penn, or grass farm, called Shettlewood.

The Montpeliers were purchased by John Ellis, Esq. father of the present proprietor, when nearly the whole of this beautiful valley, now so thickly settled and so richly cultivated, was covered with native wood. The settlement of the Old Works’ Estate had been commenced, but was completed by Mr. Ellis: the New Works’ Estate was entirely settled by him about the year 1775.

Shettlewood was the residence of a gentleman of that name, but it was established as a penn by Mr. Ellis, and has since been greatly extended by the present proprietor.

The buildings on both the estates (the annexed plate represents the Old Works) are of stone, which is in great abundance in the neighbourhood, and of which the small round hills, which form a remarkable feature in the surrounding country, are chiefly composed. The mill on the Old Works is supplied by a stream which rises in the highland to the east of the works, in the chasm of a rock, where it forms a pool, said to be of unfathomable depth, and from the clearness of the water has acquired the name of the Blue Hole. It is brought on an aqueduct along the side of the hills, till it reaches the works, where it is carried over the flat to the mill in a series of stone arches, some of which are seen in the drawing. The date of the year 1746 appears on several of the buildings.

The New Works Estate has likewise the advantage of a water-mill. The stream by which it is worked has its source in Shettlewood Penn, where it is collected into a large pool by a stone dam raised across the valley in which it rises. It is carried over the great river by a bridge, and thence on an aqueduct of stone arches to the mill.

The cane pieces of the two estates occupy about 1000 acres, that is 600 to the Old Works and 400 to the New: but the field of canes actually kept in cultivation has latterly been considerably diminished. There is also a due proportion of land in guinea grass and common pasture, both for the working stock of the estates (about 550 head) and for the cattle belonging to the negroes, who have 100 head of breeding cows, besides their produce. The remainder is chiefly woodland, but presents the means of forming more than one additional sugar-estate, for which the soil is very well adapted. At present it affords an abundant supply of timber and of wood for staves and fuel, and an extensive provision ground for the negroes.

An establishment called the Farm has also been formed on a part of it, which is cultivated for the supply of the estates with vegetables and ground provision; where a range of cottages has likewise been built for the convalescent negroes or others, whose health may require rest or particular attention.

The produce of the estates is shipped at a wharf, which forms part of the property at the bottom of the Long Hill, at a distance from Montpelier of about seven miles.

Shettlewood Penn contains 850 acres of guinea grass, 450 acres of common pasture, the remaining 700 are in woodland and negroe provision grounds. The stock consists chiefly of horned cattle, in number about 800; of these 200 are breeding cows. In addition to their produce, there is a large stock fattening for the butchery, by which the neighbouring estates are regularly supplied with fresh beef. On the estates and pen are about 900 negroes.

The properties are under the management of William Miller, Esq. of Falmouth.
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From the Watercolour World


Montpelier, Saint James Parish, Jamaica