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St. Ann – History

The site of the first interaction between Europeans and the native Tainos, St. Ann is where Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica during his second voyage to the region. He christened the place Santa Gloria. The parish’s current name is believed to be derived from Ann Hyde, the wife of English king James II, although Santa Ana, the Spanish equivalent dates back to the Spanish occupation, and is found in the Spanish records of 1603.

Christopher Columbus named the actual spot at which he landed Horseshoe Bay, because of the peculiar shape of the land. This was changed to Dry Harbour and eventually, a final, more appropriate, name change was made to Discovery Bay.

One of the most important archaeological sites – the site of the first Spanish settlement in Jamaica – and the islands first capital, can be found 1.6km, about a mile west of the town of St. Ann’s, on the Seville property. This settlement was founded by Juan de Esquivel (the first Spanish Governor of Jamaica) in1509 and named Seville Nueva – New Seville. Juan de Esquivel had been sent there by Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, expressly to set up a colony. The first Africans also came around this time – as body servants to the Spaniards.

The early history of St. Ann however, is not concentrated solely around Seville Nueva. At the Drax Hall Estate, near St. Ann’s Bay, there is a small bay described on maps as “Don Christopher’s Cove”. Here it is said Christopher Columbus repaired his two remaining ships after his fourth and last, voyage to the West Indies. At Drax Hall can also be found the ruins of the first free school set up in the parish (many years after Columbus’ departure) as a result of provisions left in the will of the original owner after whom it was named.

Further east along the coast from Drax Hall is “Chorreras” or "Bay of waterfalls”. It was here that Ysassi, the last Spanish Governor of the island, made a last ditch attempt to prevent the English from capturing the island. Unsuccessful in his endeavours, Ysassi escaped by boat from Chorreras to Cuba. His hasty departure spurred the conquering British to rename Chorreras Falls, Runaway Bay.