Sir Francis Kerr-Jarrett 1886 - 1968
The momentous tourism thrust for Montego Bay, Jamaica was spearheaded by the Sir Francis Kerr-Jarrett, who was guided by the belief that the lands he had inherited and acquired were part of Divinity’s grand plan for him to be a 'steward' for Montego Bay.
As a result of his foresight and generosity, Montego Bay evolved from a small fishing and agricultural settlement into a vibrant town that came to be known as 'The Republic', and later into a full-fledged city.
Sir Francis holds the distinction of being the longest serving Custos of the parish of St. James, as well as being the last in a long line of planters who spent their entire lives on a Sugar Estate, for which he was still owner and operator at the time of his passing at the age of 82.
His generous donations of land for critical infrastructural development have become major landmarks in Montego Bay today. Notably, the Sangster International Airport where his dream was to see one plane land per week, Cornwall Regional Hospital, Charles Gordon Market, Jarrett Park, and the Montego Freeport.
He also had the foresight to sell John Rollins, a top US Real Estate Developer & Businessman, prime lands at Rose Hall, which would resulted the Rose Hall development. He recognized that an investment of that size could only serve to further enhance the already flourishing tourism industry.
Sir Francis quickly foresaw the creation of many more valuable jobs for his beloved Jamaicans, as well as a steady increase in the direct foreign investment inflows which later proved so crucial to the sustained development of Montego Bay.
Sir Francis Kerr-Jarrett Being Knighted
Perhaps what is most memorable about Sir Francis was his fierce loyalty to the cause of political independence for Jamaica, which frequently caused him to be at odds with the colonial authorities – often at the risk of dismissal from his public posts by its representatives. He was awarded a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his unwavering service to Jamaica, but refused to have the title officially bestowed on him until 1964 when a local Governor-General was appointed.
Sir Francis Kerr Jarrett declared that the proudest moment of his life was the reception he received from a crowd of 7,000 people at Jarrett Park while being knighted, on Jamaica soil, by Jamaica’s first local Governor General, Sir Clifford Campbell.