#TPT Seaford Town, Connecting Jamaica to Germany

Seaford Town is probably the best known of the German settlements in Jamaica. Nestled in the Montpelier Mountains on western end of the island, Seaford Town is a small community that, in 1835, welcomed approximately 300 German nationals.

Sacred Heart Church, Seaford Town
Sacred Heart Church, Seaford Town

There are at least two versions of the story of how they came. By one account, the planters, who were outnumbered by the slaves, feared for their own safety following the 1831 Christmas Rebellion. The presence of armed men, they felt, would deter future revolts so they looked for men who would have been trained and would have had weapons. Since German men were required to serve in the military and were equipped with rifles, they became the logical choice.

Another account is that the Jamaican Assembly appointed a Prussian, William Lemonius, to recruit “bountied” European immigrants to establish settlements in the island’s interior. Their presence, it was felt, would encourage the ex-slaves (slavery was abolished in 1834) to work harder. They were promised housing and a salary, which would be paid weekly until their crops began to grow. They would also be given title to their lots.

Sacred Heart Church, Seaford Town
Sacred Heart Church, Seaford Town

Upon arrival from Bremen in December, 1835, they had to build their own homes, were expected to work long hours and exist on very meager rations cornmeal, flour, lard, beef and saltfish. Within a few years after they arrived, several died. In time, they learned how to grow bananas, ginger, cocoa, cassava and coffee.

Descendants of those Germans who came to Jamaica in the 19th century and earlier can be found in St. Ann, St. Mary and Trelawny but of all the communities, Seaford Town has the strongest retentions. Other evidence of the German connection can be found in place names such as Manhertz Gap, Bremen Valley, Hessen Castle, Mount Holstein and Charlottenburg, among others.

Sacred Heart Church, Seaford Town
Sacred Heart Church, Seaford Town

Seaford Town is located about 25 miles from Montego Bay. A small museum containing artifacts, photographs and other documents can be found there as well as the Roman Catholic church, the first church built in Seaford Town. Entrance Fee: J$500, roughly US$6.00.

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.

48 comments on “#TPT Seaford Town, Connecting Jamaica to Germany

  1. Thanks for sharing an interesting town with so much history. The grotto looks very similar to some I’ve seen in the Los Angeles area outside Catholic churches we used to go to.

  2. I love your TP Thursday posts. . .I always learn so much! And of course, I love the photos.

  3. What an interesting story? Are there any Germans in that area now?
    Jamaica continues to surprise. I bet you’re learning a lot too as you dig beneath the surface.

  4. Yes, there are many German descendants still there. At least three kids from one family went to my school.
    Oh, I’m learning so much! Some of it I knew but it’s great to revisit it.

  5. All of the different energies and influences in one place, and more than enough suffering and trauma to go around – our Indigenous people would have a smoking ceremony to clear it all and get a fresh start.

  6. Another piece of Jamaican history that I’ve learned from you. Never knew about the German immigrants. Pretty church.

  7. They have Jamaican accents?
    Hmmm…They have a long history there. Never knew Germans settled in Jamaica. What’s the population?

  8. The Seaford Town Germans intermarried and kept themselves apart from the community but they have Jamaican accents. At least the ones I know do. Not sure what the population is. They’re now mixing with the general population. One of the people on the tour said she knew of an Asian-German man who looked Asian except for his red hair

  9. That would have been perfect. Unfortunately, our indigenous peoples died before we came along. I guess it could still be done. Lord knows we need a fresh start!

  10. I rally do not expected to find a German settlement in Jamaica! I’m astonished! Is it a great community in Jamaica or there are just few Germans living there right now! What’s about other communities in Jamaica?I’m curious!

  11. I rally do not expected to find a German settlement in Jamaica! I’m astonished! Is it a great community in Jamaica or there are just few Germans living there right now? I’m curious!

  12. I know many Germans have settled in South America, but didn’t know about the ones in Jamaica. Wonder if they keep the old language alive. Would be interesting to hear German spoken with a Jamaican accent…

  13. What a remarkable story… That church is beautiful too… I’m not surprised that other European natives fund their way to the Islands. 😉

  14. It definitely is a remarkable story, Elizabeth. I often think of the people who left their countries back them for the new world, expecting a better life and what they endured — it’s really astounding.

  15. The Germans who went to Seaford Town were among those referred to the third wave of German immigration to Jamaica.
    They are still here in Seaford Town and elsewhere in Jamaica.

  16. Yes, it would! I’m not sure if they kept the language — there might have been some words or phrases that were retained. That’s an interesting point. I’ll do a bit more digging.

  17. Hi Francy, thanks for leaving a comment.
    I don’t know what the numbers are now but I do know that there are descendants from German immigrants in Seaford Town and elsewhere in Jamaica. Most of the names on headstones in the church cemetery have German names.

  18. There are descendants in communities in the parishes of St. Ann and Trelawny but Seaford Town, which is located in Westmoreland, seems to be the most prominent.

  19. I have been twice in Seaford town. Once , alone and the second visit was with my family. By the way, have you took the photos? Then I have to admit you have got a good sense of photography.

  20. That was wonderful! Thanks for sharing the history about this town, it is truly great and such a great place as well.

  21. How do you get up there from negril? My mom was born there and we are on the island and would like to visit! Thanks!

  22. Hi Karen, it’d be best to hire a car. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask the concierge to suggest someone to take you there. It’s probably about 30 miles from Negril. Please let me know how it goes, ok?

  23. Hi! we are also descendants from seaford town, my husband was born and grew up there..are you also from seaford town?

  24. Hello People!

    I live in Germany too. I travelled to Seaford Town three times. Check out my website for more information about the german-jamaican history.

    One love

  25. Hello Christo! Nice to hear from you. I’m impressed that you’ve been to Seaford Town three times — it’s a beautiful place, isn’t it?
    Have you visited any of the other sites where Germans settled?

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