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Grant of Rothiemurchus
Part I - Biographical Sketch - Chapter VII


IN 1866 Grant was appointed Governor of Jamaica. It would be invidious and unfair in a memoir like this to dwell at all on the causes which led to the rebellion in Jamaica, in October 1865, and the measures adopted for its suppression. Sir Henry Storks, Mr Russell Gurney, Recorder of London, and Mr J. B. Maule, Recorder of Leeds, had been nominated members of a Commission of Enquiry, and their conclusions may be found in their Report Grant who, as stated, had been made a Knight Commander of the Bath shortly before his departure from India, was appointed Governor of this colony, and assumed charge of his office on the 5th of August 1866. Immediately after his arrival, he had to adopt measures of pacification and to introduce reforms which, practically, amounted to a complete revolution in the political and legal status of the Island. In the first place, a Representative Institution which had existed for two centuries, was abolished. Its place was taken by a Legislative Council which, at the commencement, consisted of the Governor, six official, and three non-official members. This new body met for the first time on the 19th of October, and listened to a speech from its President, in which attention was requested to imperative financial and administrative reforms. It is not out of place to mention that, in that month, Grant had sent a despatch to Lord Carnarvon, dealing with the cases of such mutineers as had been sentenced to lengthy periods of imprisonment. In this document, while regretting that when the measures necessary for the restoration of peace had taken effect, every prisoner had not been tried by a Civil Judge, he recommended: First, that there should be no interference with the sentences passed on any one who had shown a murderous intent; Secondly, that in other cases there should be a reduction of imprisonment to periods of seven and ten years; and, Thirdly, that in graver cases any remission should be postponed to a future date, “ when the colony had recovered its tone.” These recommendations were entirely approved by the Secretary of State.

Soon after Grant’s arrival in Jamaica, Lord Carnarvon, in a long and well considered despatch, had recommended divers measures to the Governor's attention. Such were the relief of the poor, the education of the people, and the administration of justice. Predial larceny, as it was termed, had also to be checked, and steps to be taken to prevent the unauthorised occupation of land, a practice which, in other colonies, has led to loss of revenue, as well as to loose notions in dealing with public property. All these and other reforms were carefully discussed. Compensation was awarded to owners who had suffered damage during the Mutiny, to the amount of .£31,373, and this, while the revenue of the colony, on an average of three years, only amounted to .£338,048. The Act which was passed in 1845 to authorise the Governor to proclaim Martial Law was repealed,*and, generally speaking, much was done to bring about a financial equilibrium, to remedy abuses, to supply public wants and deficiencies, and to efface the recollections of the Rebellion. Another great measure was the transfer of the seat of Government from Spanish Town to Kingston. How the Established Church was dealt with will be shown later on.

With regard to the above subjects the following plans were laid before the Legislative Assembly and carried. It appeared that, at the time of the outbreak, there were just twenty-two policemen available for the maintenance of order; and of this number only eight could be termed effective. The Justices of the Peace were not sufficient for the criminal work, and accused persons remained in gaol for months without trial. Civil Justice practically was not existent. The remedy for this state of things was the organisation of a semi-military police, under an Inspector-General, with a rural police, as an auxiliary force, for the detection of crime in the remote districts of the country. Public prosecutors were appointed as assistants to the Attorney-General. Solicitors of seven years’ standing were authorised to practise as advocates in the Supreme Court, and the Judges of that tribunal were reduced in number from four to two. Commissioners were created to revise and consolidate the local Statutes. And finally, with the introduction of Civil Courts, on the model of our own County Courts, reasonable provision was made for the despatch of the civil as well as the criminal business of the colony.

Equally grave and pressing was the question of taxation and revenue. In September 1866 there was a deficit of more than £80,000. To reduce this the duty on rum was increased. The house tax was extended to houses under an annual rental of £12. A small tax was levied from the land, and additional duties were laid on wines, tobacco, and on other articles of luxury. The result of these measures was a surplus, in 1868, of more than £5500, followed by more than an equilibrium in every succeeding year of Grant’s administration.

When public tranquillity had been guaranteed, and the revenue had been placed on a sounder basis, attention was given to other reforms. A new Medical Department provided attendance and medicine for dwellers in rural districts; grants-in-aid were made to elementary schools; a Director of Roads was placed under the Department of Public Works; old buildings were repaired and hospitals and police stations were constructed on modern and improved principles. In 1871-2 Grant was able to write to the Secretary of State :—

"By public expenditure and private enterprise, the financial prosperity of the colony was secured. The continuing surplus,” he added, " accrues from no increase of taxation, and is in the face of a large expenditure on Public Works of utility and importance, of a largely increasing expenditure in such departments as those of Education and Medicine, and in some increase of those administrative and finance departments which necessarily require development as the population and wealth of the colony becomes developed.”

In the prosecution of his reforms in the administration of Jamaica, it is reasonable and fair to hold that the Colonial Governor must have been aided by the recollection of improvements introduced and carried out by him as Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, under not dissimilar circumstances, on an extended scale, and over a denser population and a larger area. Financial exigencies and expedients; the taxation of land; an increase to customs; security of life and property in times of peace as well as in periods of disturbance and unrest; the encouragement of lawful enterprise; the protection of the native community; the problem of reconciling English advancement with equity in the treatment of indigenous interests; grants-in-aid to elementary and village schools; the improvement of communication; the substitution of good roads and bridges for ferries and mere cattle tracks; sanitation and the public health; municipal action; the handling of Legislative Assemblies—all these and other plans and policies essential to moial and material prosperity, had been discussed, considered, and shaped in the long official Indian life, extending from 1848 to i860, under the strong and far-seeing Dalhousie as well as under the magnanimous and high-minded Canning. That Indian experience enables its possessor to deal effectively with the problems of Colonial Administration is sufficiently proved by the policy in Jamaica of Charles Metcalfe, John Peter Grant, and two other Anglo-Indians. Macaulay had written of Metcalfe:—

“In Jamaica, still convulsed by a social Revolution,
His presence calmed the evil passions,
Which long-suffering had engendered in one class,
And long domination in another.”

The same merit, with very slight alteration, may fairly be claimed for Grant, a generation later.

Grant's measure for what is called the Disestablishment of the Church in Jamaica occupied much of his time and attention. The subject had been under discussion since 1843, in the time of Bishop Spencer. It had been felt that the cost of the Establishment was out of proportion to the total revenue of the colony, and compromises had been suggested and some retrenchments made, in the time of Sir Henry Barkly.

The following extracts, regarding the Church Establishment as it stood in 1866 under the. new improved Constitution, are taken from the Hand-Book of Jamaica, published under official sanction in 1891.

“The Staff of Clergy in i860 may be stated as follows:— One bishop; three archdeacons; twenty-two rectors; fifty Island curates; fifteen missionary British and Island stipendiary curates; five substitutes for clergymen on leave or additional curates for town churches, and one chaplain of the Penitentiary—ninety-seven; but as two of the archdeacons were also beneficed clergymen, the actual staff was ninety-five clergymen of all grades. The cost of this Establishment was £7100 to the Imperial Government, and £37,284 to the Local Government, including the parochial expenditure for church servants, etc.

“One of the earliest despatches of Sir John Grant to the British Government announced that the ‘charges for organists, beadles, and other church servants, and all the miscellaneous and contingent expenses of the several churches and chapels, which were defrayed by the several parish vestries out of the annual appropriation from the general revenue made to these vestries,’ had been discontinued, with the concurrence of the Bishop of Kingston.

“This led to a lengthy correspondence between the Governor, the Bishop of Kingston, and Earl Granville, the then Colonial Minister, which continued until the Disestablishment of the Church by the expiry of the then Clergy Law. Subsequently, the enabling Statute Law, 30 of 1870, was passed by the Legislative Council.

“On the 1st of January 1870, the beginning of Disestablishment, there were in the diocese fourteen rectors, thirty-six island curates, and sixteen stipendiary curates, making a total of sixty-six clergymen. Of these fifty-one attended the first Synod, which was held in Kingston in the month of January, under the presidency of the Bishop of Kingston. Forty-one lay representatives were also present The first of the principles unanimously agreed to and promulgated was,‘ that the Church in this Island shall be known as the Church of England in Jamaica/ and that ‘union and communion of this Church with the Church of England shall by all means be preserved and strengthened.

“A Constitution was then drawn up, in which it was provided that the government of the Church should be vested in a Synod, to consist of a bishop, the clergy and the representatives of the laity chosen by the registered male communicants, and by such of the non-communicant members as might declare themselves to belong to no other religious denomination.

“The corporate body (or, rather, the incorporated lay body of the Church of England in Jamaica), was to hold the property and funds of the Church, and to exercise all other rights and duties required of them under the Law of Disestablishment, and was to consist of four communicant lay members of the Church, to be appointed by the Synod.

“The management of the parochial or local affairs of the Church was placed in the hands of Church committees, elected by those qualified to vote for lay representatives, and to consist of not more than twelve members, two-thirds of whom should be communicants.”

The above extracts are taken verbatim from the Hand-Book, and the facts and figures can be trusted.

The result of Disestablishment may be summarised as follows:—Sixty-six of the old Incumbents were to continue to receive their stipends from the State during their lives. This number has now been reduced to ten. The other clergy, about ninety in number, receive their stipends from the congregations, or from funds specially bequeathed or set apart for this purpose. The Bishop is elected by the Synod. He has greater powers than an English bishop in regard to the appointment and removal of his clergy, and to patronage generally. A close connection is maintained between the Church in Jamaica and the Mother Church in England, and the Bishop generally attends periodical Synods held in this country.


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