This Day in the Law
June 24

Kingston, Jamaica is Founded (1692)

On June 24, 1692, the city of Kingston, Jamaica was founded as a place for refugees and survivors of an earthquake that destroyed nearby Port Royal.

Before the earthquake, Port Royal was the center of shipping commerce in the Caribbean Sea. The area where Kingston would be founded functioned as a purely agricultural community and was not known, as Port Royal was, as an international port. However, after the earthquake, survivors needed to set up a refugee camp, and they wanted it to be on the sea front for easy access to relief and supplies. Initially the refugees simply lived in a tented camp. The town grew after the further destruction of Port Royal by a fire set by pirates in 1703.

By 1716, Kingston had become the largest town in Jamaica and was the new center of trade. The government sold land to people with the regulation that they purchase no more than the amount of the land that they owned in Port Royal, and only land on the sea front. In 1755, the government offices of Jamaica were transferred from a Spanish town to Kingston, thus setting it up to become the capital. By the end of the 18th century, the city harbor fostered trade, and played part in several naval wars of the 18th century.

Today, Kingston is still the capital of Jamaica. Despite its humble beginnings as a refugee camp on June 24, 1692, it is now the largest city in Jamaica, as well as its economic center.