Paul Bogle

Paul Bogle was a Jamaican Baptist deacon. He organised a settlement at Stony Gut north of Morant Bay. He established a religio-military cult of several hundred militant black supporters. They armed themselves with machetes, pikes and bludgeons. They drilled assiduously and organised themselves on paramilitary lines. They administered their own justice and were hostile to white rule.

He became involved in the Morant Bay Rebellion. A black man was put on trial and imprisoned for trespassing on a long abandoned plantation. One member of Bogle’s group protested in the court over the unjust arrest, but was immediately arrested, angering the crowd further. He was rescued moments later, when Bogle and his men took to the market square, and retaliated. The police were severely beaten and forced to retreat.

On Monday, 9 October 1865, warrants were issued against Bogle and a number of others for riot and assault. The police arrived in Stony Gut to arrest Bogle but met with stiff resistance from the residents. They fought the police, again forcing them to retreat to Morant Bay.

A few days later on 11 October 1865 there was a vestry meeting in the Court House. Bogle and his followers, armed with sticks and machetes, went there. The authorities were shaken, and a few people in the crowd threw stones at the volunteer militia, who fired into the crowd, killing seven people. The crowd retaliated, setting fire to the Court House and nearby buildings. When officials tried to leave the burning building they were killed by the irate crowd outside.

The reprisals came quickly; the troops destroyed Stony Gut and Bogle's chapel there. Gordon was arrested and taken by boat to Morant Bay, where he was tried for conspiracy and hanged on 23 October. Bogle was captured by the Maroon militia and taken to Morant Bay, where he too was put on trial and hanged at the burnt-out courthouse the following day. In total over 400 Black residents were killed and many more were flogged.

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by Stephen Luscombe