Jamaican Maroons: were they tricked into becoming defacto slave catchers?

Jun 2015
255
London UK
A lot of Jamaicans see the Maroons as "sellouts" and slave-catchers.

=========
===================================

I was in Jamaica in July but could not visit Maroon town. I asked some Jamaicans what they thought about them and unique history. The response by some was that they keep to themselves and still live like they are in slavery whereas the rest of Jamaica has moved on. Some believed they are into obeah and that type of thing like how Haitians are stereotyped because they held on to their African culture.

Was Marcus Garvey or Rasta founder Leonard Howells descended from the Maroons or was it a myth/folklore?Were they both influenced by them?

I wondered at the height of Garveyism if they had UNIA branches in Maroon Town? Likewise
The Rastafari movement in Jamaica saw Africa or Ethiopia as the promised land, why didn’t they look to the Maroons as an example or live with them? Especially when the movement was persecuted by the authorities. Were there many Rastas among the Maroons? Or they chose to keep to their own religion and culture and wouldn’t take to outside influences? Was reggae/ska/mento popular among them or any such artists from the Maroons or they would have to leave to learn it or become a professional artist?

I didn’t see any ‘Maroon’ shops around the island or in tourist areas selling cultural artefacts etc I heard they do have such shops in Maroon Town. Is this because ‘mixing’ with outsiders is frowned upon? They have their own laws and the government or courts don’t like to intervene in disputes. I read that unlike the rest of Jamaica with a high murder rate there is relatively lower crime rate among the Maroons. They have only had one murder in 200 years. Could this be a reason why they may not want to mix?
 
Last edited:
Jun 2015
255
London UK
Where they paid for capturing the runaways????
I never knew this and that they were ‘bounty hunters’ actively seeking out and capturing enslaved people seeking freedom. It would be an incentive to get them to keep to their side of the treaty otherwise they would simply ignore that agreement and let others join. I was also surprised to learn they were used to pout down Slave revolts like Morant Bay Rebellion. However it diminishes their achievements for successfully resisting enslavement but then collaborating with their enemy for money. Some of their folk songs of today praises their role as courageous blacks who liberated themselves from slavery by the ‘white man’ but at the time it was not so black and white
 
Jun 2015
255
London UK
I came across this:

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/09/a-lively-and-valuable-history-of-dominicas-maroons-in-the-forests-of-freedom-reviewed/

In the Forests of Freedom: The Fighting Maroons of Dominica Lennox Honychurch
Papillote Press, pp.231, £9.99

Much romantic nonsense has been written about the runaway slaves or Maroons of the West Indies. In 1970s Jamaica, during President Michael Manley’s socialist experiment, Maroons were hailed as forerunners of Black Power. Rastafari militants and back-to-Africa ideologues saw a nobility in Maroon descent. The Jamaican black nationalist Marcus Garvey had claimed Maroon ancestry for himself; as has, more recently, the British Jamaican hip-hop singer Ms Dynamite (whose debut album, A Little Deeper, remains a UK drum and bass masterpiece

In Jamaica, at any rate, Maroons fought exclusively for their own liberty, not for the overall liberty of the island’s enslaved Africans. As a condition of their freedom (and in return for land and other privileges), they were obliged to return other fugitive slaves to the imperial British and even help put down slave revolts. The Maroons of Jamaica thus inherited an ambivalent legacy: they are both heroes of, and traitors to, black freedom. Their most famous leader, an African tribeswoman known as Nanny, was said to have been able to fend off British Redcoats by catching bullets in the cleft of her buttocks. (It is more likely that Nanny simply lifted her skirts to moon at the troops — a gesture of extreme contempt signifying ‘batty man’ or homosexual.)
The word ‘Maroon’ probably derives from the Spanish cimarrón, meaning ‘wild’, originally applied to the interior of Hispaniola — present-day Haiti. Maroons have long existed throughout the Caribbean. The mountains and waterfalls of British Dominica provided them with an ideal refuge; in their geographic isolation they were able to conserve a unique subculture of African slave language, music, divination and spirit animism.

According to the Dominica-born historian and anthropologist Lennox Hony-church, the Maroons’ African lore was fortified by exposure to the island’s pre-Columbian Kalinago Amerindian peoples, who had used their knowledge of the volcanic massifs and wild jungle to wage guerrilla sorties on the Spanish, French and British in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In his lively history of Dominica Marronage, Honychurch chronicles the island’s Maroon Wars of 1785 to 1814. Runaway slave chiefs such as Jacko, Balla, Elephant and the Nanny-esque Angelique and Calypso significantly menaced the British plantation system. They laid pit-traps concealed by branches and hid out in ‘back-o-water’ caves alongside Kalinago co-conspirators. The eerie wail of the conch shell, used by the Maroons to communicate over distances, warned the British that a marauding party was on its way to harry the sugar plantations and their owners.
During Dominica’s first Maroon War of 1785–1786 the runaways were easily outnumbered as the Redcoats infiltrated their scout networks and used Kalinago double agents.
Some 150 Maroons were killed in the course of the short-lived conflict and their chief, Balla, was captured and hanged in Dominica’s capital of Roseau. Betrayal was a constant danger and even today in Dominica the few surviving Maroon communities remain suspicious of outsiders. Only with emancipation in 1838 were they able finally to glimpse their own freedom.
As well as a valuable history of Afro-Atlantic slave custom and revolt, In the Forests of Freedom celebrates the beauty of rural Dominica, with its glittering palm groves and rivers dashing white over rocks. In Honychurch’s estimation, the ‘spirit of the Maroons’ continues today in Rastafari and other pan-African religions, which display a Maroon-like cussedness and defiant New World blackness. Privately published by the author in 2014 (and reissued now by Polly Patullo of the excellent Papillote Press), In the Forests of Freedom opens a window onto a little-known West Indian history.
 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,529
Japan
In 1796 the governer gave the maroons several days to apologise and ask for forgiveness as part of the surrender terms. One community of Trelawny either refused or was late to go. The whole town was deported first to Nova Scotia then again in 1800 to Seirra Leone. Which is why their is a link between the patois.
 
Aug 2012
804
Washington State, USA.
I read about this in the Mitchner book Caribbean. I seem to remember there being an agreement in the book that the British would recognize the freedom of the Maroons as long as they took in no runaway slaves.
This same book talked about the Maroon's hiring out as Mercenaries during a slave uprising...or, maybe it was just the uprising of poor, Jamaican blacks after slavery was abolished. Blacks were kept minimized as landowners for many years after the end of slavery.
There was a major revolt in 1831 with slaves, and a major uprising in 1861 with the Morant Bay Rebellion.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morant_Bay_rebellion
 
Dec 2011
1,013
Hertfordshire
The Sierra Leone connection occurred after the Second Maroon War of 1795-6. Once again, the British authorities failed to defeat the Maroons of Trelawny Town, and the casualties of the British militias were much higher than those suffered by Trelawny Town. However, Colonel Walpole persuaded them to lay down their arms on condition they won't be deported. However, Governor Balcarres twisted a clause in the treaty to deport most of the Trelawny Town Maroons to Sierra Leone. Walpole resigned in disgust, and returned to the UK, got elected to the Commons, and campaigned in vain for justice for the Trelawny Town Maroons.

The Maroons who were deported to Sierra Leone then put down a rebellion on behalf of the British colonial authorities, and they secured favoured treatment as a result. When the situation worsened in the 1840s, about half of them eventually returned to Jamaica, where their descendants live in the village of Flagstaff, just outside Montego Bay, and call themselves the "Returned Maroons".
 
Dec 2011
1,013
Hertfordshire
Where they paid for capturing the runaways????
Drawn from my draft dissertation....

In the 1760s, the Assembly offered Maroons the sum of three pounds per runaway: a large sum. The planters, however, had problems with the method of remuneration. Edwards and Dallas alleged that the Maroons would kill their captives, ‘oftentimes bringing home the head of the fugitive, instead of the living man’.

The Assembly introduced mile-money to discourage Maroons from killing runaways, by paying them for each mile they carried the living slave. The colonial authorities paid the Maroons ‘at the rate of one shilling per mile for the first five miles, and six-pence per mile afterwards’. This was in addition to the 40-50 shillings the Maroons were entitled to receive from the authorities per returned slave.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Maroons were not pan-African, but were more concerned with protecting their own communities. In contrast, the Rastafarian movement which evolved at about the same time as Marcus Garvey started preaching, was a pan-African movement. There is no connection between the Maroons and Rastas. However, having said that, the leadership of the Returned Maroons is now Rastafarian. So, while the official Maroon towns of Accompong Town, Moore Town, Charles Town and Scott's Hall take pride in the Maroon role in hunting wild boars and selling jerk pork, the Returned Maroons of Flagstaff will have nothing to do with jerk pork.

Yes, the early Maroons emphasized their Akan origins, but my dissertation will show that after the treaties of 1739 and 1740, the Maroons tried to distance themselves from the black slaves they now hunted. They gave up their Akan names such as Cudjoe, Cuffee and Quao, and took on names such as John, James, William and Thomas.
 
Jun 2015
255
London UK
Drawn from my draft dissertation....

In the 1760s, the Assembly offered Maroons the sum of three pounds per runaway: a large sum. The planters, however, had problems with the method of remuneration. Edwards and Dallas alleged that the Maroons would kill their captives, ‘oftentimes bringing home the head of the fugitive, instead of the living man’.

The Assembly introduced mile-money to discourage Maroons from killing runaways, by paying them for each mile they carried the living slave. The colonial authorities paid the Maroons ‘at the rate of one shilling per mile for the first five miles, and six-pence per mile afterwards’. This was in addition to the 40-50 shillings the Maroons were entitled to receive from the authorities per returned slave.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Maroons were not pan-African, but were more concerned with protecting their own communities. In contrast, the Rastafarian movement which evolved at about the same time as Marcus Garvey started preaching, was a pan-African movement. There is no connection between the Maroons and Rastas. However, having said that, the leadership of the Returned Maroons is now Rastafarian. So, while the official Maroon towns of Accompong Town, Moore Town, Charles Town and Scott's Hall take pride in the Maroon role in hunting wild boars and selling jerk pork, the Returned Maroons of Flagstaff will have nothing to do with jerk pork.

Yes, the early Maroons emphasized their Akan origins, but my dissertation will show that after the treaties of 1739 and 1740, the Maroons tried to distance themselves from the black slaves they now hunted. They gave up their Akan names such as Cudjoe, Cuffee and Quao, and took on names such as John, James, William and Thomas.
Could you explain the ‘Returned Maroons’? I never heard of this. Were they Jamaicans who later joined them after slavery or in the first half of the 20th century? I thought the Maroons still didn’t let outsiders join them. Or only those who married a Maroon?

Secondly can you clarify the changing of names the Maroons used to distance themselves from those they hunted? Surely they would stick to Akan or African names to keep apart? Wouldn’t the enslaved blacks have European names? Why would the Maroons adopt the names given by the plantation owners to the enslaved?
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,147
Canary Islands-Spain
so within the Maroons after slavery was visiting other parts of the island or marrying outsiders not welcomed?

Maroons often married among themselves. However, they often had black non-Maroon wives and husbands too. Your Maroon status was inherited through your mother. Several Maroon women became the mistresses of white men.

Interesting, a Matrilineal society. But so were both Taíno and Akan societies, I wonder to which Maroons resembled more.