The maroons of jamaica my ancestry

images-16I traced my ancestry as far back as I could go in Jamaica using information given to me by my family before I did a ancestry DNA test. My ancestors were described as Igbo around 1830 on census records, but further back around 1809 they were described as Maroons. I did not know what a Maroon was. I carried on searching and did some research. I discovered that my 6th great grandmother and her sons became Maroons and my 6x great grandmother was a Maroon for nearly 20 years until she was caught and made into a slave again when she was over 50. They lived in Trelawny and St James in Jamaica. I also do not think it is a coincidence that they named the area St James and those particular slaves came mainly from James Town in Ghana. I recall tracing the ancestry back and seeing an ancestor described as being runaway and branded with the letter J but at the time I could not connect the J as it did not match the slave masters name. I believe now that slaves who were not branded with the slave masters name were branded with initials which related to where they were from or what ship they were from.


My great grandmother x6 called her child Quamin a African Ga Akan and Ashanti day name describing the day he was born. The fact that there were records of my ancestors with African names helped me identify where they were from.  This told me they had ties to Ghana and the Ghana naming ceremony and were described by the slave master as Igbo which suggested a mix of Ghana and Nigeria for their ancestry. I decided to explore this further.

Exploring day names


              (formerly, especially in creole-speaking cultures) name given at birth to a black child, in accordancewith African customs, indicating the child’s sex andthe day of the week on which he or she was born, asthe male and female names for Sunday (Quashee andQuasheba) Monday (Cudjo or Cudjoe and Juba)Tuesday (Cubbena and Beneba) Wednesday (Quacoand Cuba or Cubba)     Thursday (Quao and Abba) Friday(Cuffee or Cuffy and Pheba or    Phibbi) and Saturday(Quamin or Quame and Mimba)

(W Africana name indicating a person’s day of birth

Documentation I found states one of my first ancestors arrived in Jamaica about 1760 however I now think this is incorrect. I have seen other people with the surname and naming patterns that are similar to my relatives in the 19th century listed pre 1760. The documents available often don’t contain enough information for me to push back further than  this. A possibility since my relative was a Maroon is that she lied about how long she was free and could have been born in Jamaica and not Africa. If this were the case she would have to lie as punishment would have been worse if she was from a lineage of Maroons.  Information was purposefully suppressed the further back you go as the whole point was to create a slave that made money and strip them of their identity. It is said that most slaves have 2-3 names. The African name first slave name and later a new name if they were baptised or a new name once made free. Hence there are a lot of Freeman’s this was a popular name after slavery that ex slaves chose for themselves.



Nanny town in jamaica is named after nanny of the maroons (1686-1755). Nanny is one of Jamaica’s national hero’s.  Nanny was from the ashanti tribe. The first nanny town was destroyed during the first maroon war in 1734. Maroons were african slaves who fled their captors and lived in the mountains.

Slaves from africa are described as coromantee Igbo Ashanti Fulani and Akan which relates to their tribes in africa. The slaves revolted against their enslavement and banded together living in the mountains. Some maroons were later deported to Sierra Leone.

I read this quote which puts it into context “During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Akan, Ga, and Adangbe from the northwestern coastal region known as the Gold Coast (around modern Ghana) dominated the slave trade to the island.” Until around 1776. In my research and DNA testing I discovered a family connection to the GA and Adangbe.


See the link below for information on the tribes from Ghana as these often correlate with the slaves found in the US and Carribean islands. The Ghanian Embassy provide information on their heritage lineage and current tribes. Here is an extract from their site

Major Cities

Accra, the capital, has a population of 10% out of the total population. Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region. Sekondi has an artificial harbor and was the first modern port built in Ghana. Other major cities include Tema, Tamale, and Cape Coast. People living in urban areas account for 37 percent of the population

The Capital   

Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana, southeastern Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Accra is an important commercial, manufacturing, and communications center. It is the site of an international airport and a focus of the country’s railroad system, including a link to nearby Tema, which since 1962 has served as the city’s deepwater port. Industries include vehicle and appliance assembly, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of foodstuffs, textiles, metal and wood products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. A sprawling city, Accra presents a varied appearance, with buildings of modern, colonial, and traditional African architecture. Of note here are the 17th-century Christiansborg Castle, now the residence of the chief of state, and the National Museum (1957). Several research and technical institutes are located in Accra, and the University of Ghana (1948) is in the nearby town of Legon. The site of what is now Accra was occupied by villages of the Ga, the local people, when the Portuguese first visited here in the late 15th century. During the 17th century the Portuguese were forced to withdraw by the Dutch, who, along with the Danes and the English, founded rival trading posts, which became the settlements of Ussher Town, Christiansborg, and James Town, respectively.

In the 19th century Britain purchased Dutch and Danish rights in the area, and in 1876 Christiansborg was made the capital of the Gold Coast Colony. The three separate towns grew and gradually coalesced to form the city of Accra. Much of the modern city’s layout was planned in the 1920s, and since then growth has been rapid. Accra remained the capital city, when in 1957 the Gold Coast Colony became the independent state of Ghana. Population (1990 estimate) 953,500.

Language and Religion


English is the official language of Ghana and is universally used in schools in addition to nine other local languages.The most widely spoken local languages are, Ga, Dagomba, Akan and Ewe.


Traditional religions accounts for two-fifths of the population. The Christian population also accounts for two-fifths of the total population and includes Roman Catholics, Baptist, Protestants, etc. The Muslim population (12 percent of the total) is located chiefly in the northern part of the country see their population page.

Back to Nanny of the maroons Wikipedia

Historical documents refer to her as the “rebels’ old ‘obeah‘ woman.” Following some armed confrontations, colonial officials reached a settlement for peace. They legally granted “Nanny and the people now residing with her and their heirs … a certain parcel of Land containing five hundred acres in the parish of Portland …


The Maroons are descendants of West Africans, mainly people from the Ashanti region of what is today Ghana. After being brought to Jamaica in the course of the Transatlantic slave trade, many slaves fled from the oppressive conditions of plantations and formed their own communities in the rugged, hilly interior of the island. A minority of slaves originated from other regions of Africa, including the Congo and Madagascar; they were known as Coromantie or Koromantee, and were considered ferocious fighters.[3] People who escaped from slavery joined the other Maroons.[3]

Later, after the British assumed control of the colony, more slaves escaped from to join the two main bands of Windward and Leeward Maroons. By the early 17th century, these were headed respectively by Nanny of the Maroons and Captain Cudjoe. Between 1655 until the 1830s, these Maroons led most of the slave rebellions in Jamaica, helping to free slaves from the plantations. They raided and then damaged lands and buildings held by plantation owners.[3]

The Maroons also contributed to the cooking technique of jerking, adapted from the Arawak. Chicken or pork pieces were cooked over a low fire using green pimento wood. The smoke was smothered in order to escape detection by British forces.[5]

Life and workEdit

Nanny was born into the Ashanti tribe about 1686 in what is now Ghana, West Africa.[4] It is believed that some of her family members were involved in intertribal conflict and her village was captured. Nanny and several relatives were sold as slaves and transported to Jamaica. There she was likely sold to a plantation in Saint Thomas Parish, just outside the Port Royal area. The commodity crop was sugarcane, and the slaves toiled under extremely harsh conditions to cultivate, harvest and process it. Another version of her life tells that she was of royal African blood and came to Jamaica as a free woman. She may have been married to a man named Adou, but had no known children who survived.[3]

As a child, Nanny was influenced by other slave leaders and maroons. She and her “brothers”, Accompong, Cudjoe and Quao, ran away from their plantation and hid in the Blue Mountains area of northern Saint Thomas Parish.[4] While in hiding, they split up to organize more Maroon communities across Jamaica: Cudjoe went to Saint James Parish and organized a village, which was later named Cudjoe Town; Accompong settled in Saint Elizabeth Parish, in a community that came to be known as Accompong Town;[6] and Nanny and Quao founded communities inPortland Parish.

Nanny became a folk hero. The British were unsuccessful in their attacks on Nanny Town, thanks to its strategic location, and her idea to control access to it. They fought off soldiers despite being outnumbered. Cudjoe also led slave rebellions in Jamaica.

By 1720, Nanny and Quao had settled and controlled an area in the Blue Mountains. It was given the name Nanny Town, and consisted of 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land granted by the government to the refugee slaves under a 1739 treaty ending the First Maroon Wars. Nanny Town had a strategic location overlooking Stony River via a 900-foot (270 m) ridge, making a surprise attack by the British practically impossible.[4] The Maroons at Nanny Town also organized look-outs for such an attack, and designated certain warriors to be summoned by the sound of a horn called anabeng.

The community raised animals, hunted, and grew crops. Maroons at Nanny Town and similar communities survived by sending traders to the nearby market towns to exchange food for weapons and cloth. It was organized very much like a typical Ashantisociety in Africa.

The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantations, and leading freed slaves to join their mountain communities. Nanny was highly successful at organizing plans to free slaves. During a period of 30 years, she was credited with freeing more than 1000 slaves, and helped them to resettle in the Maroon community.[4]

Leadership and ObeahEdit

Many in her community attributed Nanny’s leadership skills to her obeah powers.[7] Obeah is an African-derived religion that is still practised in Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and TobagoGuyana,BarbadosBelize and other Caribbean countries. It is associated with both good and bad magic, charms, luck, and with mysticism in general. In some Caribbean nations, aspects of Obeah have survived through synthesis with Christian symbolism and practice introduced by European colonials and slave owners.

Nanny’s tribe of origin, Ashanti, strongly resisted Europeans in West Africa and the New World. She was also likely influenced by her brothers and other Maroons in Jamaica.

Nanny possessed wide knowledge of herbs and other traditional healing methods, practised by Africans and native islanders. She served as a physical and spiritual healer to her community, which in turn would elevate her status and esteem.


In the Journal of the Assembly of Jamaica, 29–30 March 1733, is a citation for “resolution, bravery and fidelity” awarded to “loyal slaves … under the command of Captain Sambo”, namely William Cuffee, who was rewarded for having fought the Maroons in the First Maroon War and who is called “a very good party Negro, having killed Nanny, the rebels old obeah woman”.[8] These hired soldiers were known as “Black Shots”.[9]

Another record states that in 1739, a parcel of land named Nanny Town was awarded to “Nanny and her descendents” under a treaty with the colonial government.[10] Some claim that Queen Nanny lived to be an old woman, dying of natural causes in the 1760s. The exact date of her death remains a mystery. Part of the confusion is that “Nanny” is an honorific, and many high-ranking women were called that in Maroon Town. However, the Maroons are adamant that there was only one “Queen Nanny.”


In 1739 the British governor in Jamaica signed a treaty with the Maroons, promising them 2500 acres (10 km²) in two locations. They were to remain in their five main towns – Accompong, Trelawny Town, Mountain Top, Scots Hall, Nanny Town – living under their own chiefs with a British supervisor in each town. In exchange, they agreed not to harbour new runaway slaves, but to help catch them for bounties. The Maroons were also expected to fight for the British in the case of an attack from the French or Spanish.

Nanny is known as one of the earliest leaders of slave resistance in the Americas, and one of few women in that role. She is celebrated in Jamaica and abroad.

  • The government of Jamaica declared Queen Nanny a National Heroine in 1976. Her portrait graces the $500 Jamaican dollar bill, which is colloquially referred to as a “Nanny”.[12]
  • Nanny’s Monument is located in Moore Town, Portland, Jamaica.[13

Wikipedia also states

Nanny was born in what is now GhanaWest Africa, as a member of the Ashanti nation, part of the Akan people. She was enslaved, along with her five brothers, and brought to eastern Jamaica. She and her five brothers, CudjoeAccompong, Johnny, Cuffy and Quao, quickly decided to flee the oppressive conditions of the sugar cane plantations to join the autonomous African communities of Maroons who had developed in the mountains. This community originated from people formerly enslaved by the Spanish, who had refused to submit to British control. This community developed as many more slaves escaped the plantations and joined the Maroons. Angered by continued raiding of plantations and armed confrontations, the colonial government mounted the FirstMaroon War of the 1730s in an effort to run out and capture the refugee slaves.

Nanny and her brothers split up in order to continue the resistance to the plantation slave economy across Jamaica. Cudjoe went to Clarendon, where he was soon joined by about a hundred Maroons from Cottawood; while Accompong went to St. Elizabeth, where a Maroon community was later named for him. Nanny and Quao made their way to Portland Parish and the Blue Mountains.

By 1720, Nanny and Quao had organized and were leading this settlement of Maroons; it was known as Nanny Town. According to a deed from the colonial government, Nanny was granted more than 500 acres (2.4 km²) of land where the Maroons could live and raise animals and grow crops. Due to the town being led by Nanny and Quao, it was organized similarly to a typical Ashanti tribe in Africa.

In addition to what they raised and produced, the Maroons sent traders to the cities to exchange food for weapons and cloth. The Maroons were also known for raiding plantations for weapons and food, burning the plantation, and leading liberated slaves to join them at Nanny Town.

Nanny Town was an excellent location for a stronghold, as it overlooked Stony River via a 900-foot ridge, making a surprise attack by the British virtually impossible. The Maroon organized look-outs for such an attack, as well as designated warriors, who could be summoned by the sound of a horn called an abeng.

Granny Nanny was very adept at organizing plans to free slaves. She has been credited with freeing more than 800 slaves over the span of 50 years. She also helped these slaves remain free and healthy due to her vast knowledge of herbs and her role as a spiritual leader. However, freeing slaves upset the British. Between 1728 and 1734, they attacked Nanny Town time and time again, but not once was it harmed. This was accomplished due to the Maroons being much more skilled in fighting in an area of high rainfall as well as disguising themselves as bushes and trees. The Maroons also utilized decoys to trick the British into a surprise attack. This was done by having non-camouflaged Maroons run out into view of the British and then run in the direction of the fellow Maroons who were disguised, thus crushing the British time and time again.

End of Wikipedia Extract Further information about Nanny’s family from Wikipedia below.

Nanny’s Brother Cudjoe 

Cudjoe, or Captain Cudjoe (c. 1690 – 1744),[1] sometimes spelled Cudjo[2] – corresponding to the Akan day name Kojo or Kwadwo – was a Maroon leader in Jamaica during the time of Nanny of the Maroons. He has been described as “the greatest of the Maroon leaders.”[3]

The Jamaican Maroons are descended from runaway slaves who established free communities in the mountains of Jamaica during the era of slavery on the island. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways, apparently mixing with theNative American Taino or Arawak[citation needed] people that remained in the country. Some may have gained liberty when the English attacked Jamaica and took it in 1655, and subsequently. For about 52 years, until the 1737 peace treaty with the British rulers of the island, the Maroons stubbornly resisted conquest.

See this documentary on the maroons of Kojos place







Transatlantic journey from West Africa to beyond

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