White Jamaicans

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White Jamaicans also known as European-Jamaicans are Jamaican people whose ancestry lies within the continent of Europe, most notably Great Britain and Ireland.[2] There are also communities of people who are descendants of people who arrived from Spain, Germany[3] and Portugal.[4]

White Jamaicans
Total population
4,365 (0.2% of the total population)
2011 census[1]
Regions with significant populations
Kingston, St. Andrew Parish
Diaspora: U.S: (Miami, etc), Canada
English, Jamaican Patois, Spanish, Portuguese, other
Christianity, Judaism
Related ethnic groups
English, French, German people, Irish, Jews, Portuguese, Scottish, Spanish, Welsh, White Caribbeans

Historically, White Jamaicans made up a much larger percentage of the population, forming a majority for most of the 17th century, when Jamaica was conquered by the British.[1] After the Spanish colonized the island in the 1600s, the English began taking an interest in the island and, following a failed attempt to conquer Santo Domingo on Hispaniola, Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables led an invasion of Jamaica in 1655. The Spanish left, aside from Spanish Jews, which would later be followed by a predominately English and Irish White population. By the 1670s, Jamaica brought in more Black slaves to work on sugar plantations, which then would be the majority of Jamaica's population. During the First Maroon War, Jamaicans who broke from slavery fought against British colonialists, therefore leading to another decline in Jamaica's White population.[5][6]

The White population would dramatically decrease during the 1800s, making up only 4% of the population at a peak.

According to the 2011 Census of Population and Housing for Jamaica, 0.2% of Jamaica's population is considered White. Over half of the White population lives in the Saint Andrew Parish. Seeing as about 4% of Jamaica's population is considered mixed, mainly Black and White, the population of those with partial European ancestry is much higher than that of the recorded White population.[1]

There is also a several centuries-old emigration of White Jamaicans, as with Jamaicans in general, to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries.[citation needed]


A number of Jamaicans have light skin, European features, and majority European ancestry. In colonial times it was common for such people to identify simply as "white", but since independence it has been more common for them to identify as "brown" or "mulatto". For instance, four of the first six Jamaican heads of government (Norman Manley, Alexander Bustamante, Edward Seaga, and Michael Manley) had a light-skinned appearance and majority European ancestry, but were not generally considered "white" within Jamaica. Foreign writers applying their own countries' racial standards would sometimes identify them as white – writing for The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof observed that a "95 per cent black population elected a white man – Edward Seaga – as its prime minister". Seaga was born to a Lebanese father and a mixed-race mother.[7]

Demographic historyEdit

The proportion of white people among the overall population in Jamaica has varied considerably since the establishment of a permanent Spanish settlement in 1509 by Juan de Esquivel. The native Taíno people were virtually extinct by 1600 and the island's population of about 3,000 was then overwhelmingly European. However, over the next century a significant numbers of African slaves were brought to the island. Jamaica became a colony of England in 1655 and a census in 1662 recorded 3,653 whites (87% of the population) and 552 blacks (13% of the population). However, by 1673 there were 7,768 whites (45% of the population) and 9,504 blacks (55% of the population). By the end of the century only about 7,000 out of a total population of 47,000 (or 15%) were white. Most white immigrants were British, many coming voluntarily from other North American colonies or as refugees from colonies like Montserrat and Suriname, which were captured by other European powers.[citation needed]

By 1734, the proportion of white people had decreased to below 10% of the overall population of Jamaica.[8] In 1774, Edward Long estimated that a third of Jamaica's white population were Scottish, mostly concentrated in Westmoreland Parish.[9] In 1787, there were only 12,737 whites out of a total population of 209,617.[8] There was a flow of French refugees to Jamaica after the Haitian Revolution, though not all remained in the country. In the 1830s, over 1,000 Germans immigrated to Jamaica to work on Lord Seaford's estate. The 1844 census showed a white population of 15,776 out of a total population of 377,433 (around 4%).[8] According to the 1871 census, at least 25% of the population was coloured (having mixed black and white ancestry).[10]

The 1960 census recorded a white population of 0.77 percent, which decreased to 0.66 in 1970, 0.18 in 2001, and 0.16 in 2011.[11] As with most Anglo-Caribbean countries, most Jamaicans who are of mixed ancestry self-report as 'black'.[12][13] In 2011, the CIA World Factbook estimated that the population of Jamaicans who are of mixed European and African ancestry is at about 96%.[14]

White JamaicansEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c 2011 census report
  2. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The Irish". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  3. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures The People Who Came The Arrival Of The GERMANS". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  4. ^ "Out Of Many Cultures: The People Who Came The Jews In Jamaica". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  5. ^ Mavis Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica 1655–1796: a History of Resistance, Collaboration & Betrayal (Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey, 1988), p. 105.
  6. ^ Bev Carey, The Maroon Story: The Authentic and Original History of the Maroons in the History of Jamaica 1490–1880 (Kingston, Jamaica: Agouti Press, 1997), pp. 315–355.
  7. ^ "Not completely black and white". Jamaica Gleaner. October 4, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Historical Background, Jamaican Family Search.
  9. ^ "Jamaica In Britain: Mulatto Abolitionist". Jamaica Gleaner. December 3, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Handbook of Jamaica. Google Books: Jamaica Government. 1908. p. 37.
  11. ^ Race and Ethnicity Matter in Jamaica? Category Labels versus Personal Self- descriptions of Identity, ResearchGate, 2007
  12. ^ "5 Reasons Many Jamaicans Don't Understand Racism". Jamaicans Magazine. May 17, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  13. ^ "Out of Many One People, We Are A Race Apart". Jamaicans Magazine. July 30, 2007. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  14. ^ "Jamaica – CIA World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved March 5, 2018.