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House with a History
Bellefield Great House and its Estate have the distinction of being one of the oldest sugar plantations in Jamaica. Owned by the Kerr- Jarret family of the Barnett Estates, the Great House and its Sugar Mill were built in 1794. The Kerr-Jarrett family have played an integral role in the development of Montego Bay and our access to the Estate provides us with a unique window into a very vibrant and lucrative period in Jamaica’s history.
The story of this particular family begins in 1655, when the British gained control of the island of Jamaica, driving out the Spanish who had occupied Jamaica for over 150 years. From ancient family records it has been established that the first member of the family line to arrive in Jamaica was one of the Kerr clan of Scotland who came as part of the British fleet under Admiral Penn and Captain Venables when the British captured Jamaica from Spain in 1655.
Colonel Nicholas Jarrett, on the other hand, was a member of the British aristocracy and, whilst not being a member of the valiant team who fought the Spanish for possession of the island, he was gifted these and other lands by King Charles the Second, the King of England, during this period. The two families were forever united when Major-General David Kerr (nephew of John Kerr) arrived in Jamaica in the 1700’s and took a position at this very estate as a medicinal doctor and in a short time ended up marrying Sarah Newton Jarret, daughter of Colonel Nicholas Jarrett.
Rumour has it that Major-General David Kerr was a bold and daring adventurer
who, much to the ire of the British in the colonies and beyond, fought
for the American Side during the War of Independence in 1776 and subsequently
returned to Jamaica afterwards. Despite his “dubious” past,
this determined Major General immediately set his sights on Col Nicholas
Jarret’s only daughter and they were soon married . The intermarriage
of these two families – the Kerrs and the Jarrets – created a powerful
alliance of family unity and national pride that played a central role
in the growth of Jamaica as a nation from colonial days to Independence.
To this day the Kerr-Jarret family continues to actively support nation
building and local community development across the island.