Paul Bogle – Baptist Deacon

1822- 24th October 1865

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Paul was born a free man around 1822 in a small village called Stony Gut, Jamaica.

Stony Gut was a farming community where Paul owned land himself.

Paul was friends with George William Gordon, we will do a follow-up piece on him as he was also remarkable!

George was a landowner and a politician and used his influence for Paul to become a Baptist Deacon.

Whilst slavery was abolished in Jamaica in 1834, it did nothing to help Black people at that time. Even though Black people were able to vote, they needed to read, write, and pay an expensive fee in order to do so.

Sadly voter suppression tactics have been around longer than the abolishment of slavery it seems.

On the 7th October 1865, a Black man was arrested for trespassing on a long-abandoned plantation. The Stony Gut community protested and a small group freed the Black man by force.

By the time they returned to their village, 27 men from their community were issued warrants for arrest. Charges included; assaulting police and rioting.

Paul led people to protest on the 11th October 1865 into the town of Morant Bay; the intention was to object against the arrest warrants. 

Unfortunately, they were met with local militia who opened fire in a panic and killed seven of the protestors.

This exploded into a riot which killed another eighteen people.

What was intended as a peaceful protest soon turned into a bloody rebellion.

Morant Bay was soon taken over by the rebels. The white planters were afraid that the uprising would spread like wildfire across Jamaica.

The governor of Jamaica was Edward Eyre, he sent troops to quell the riots.

By the time the troops arrived the riots had now calmed, however, the troops murdered 439 Black Jamaicans regardless if they were involved in the riots or not. 

354 Black Jamaicans were arrested, then later executed.

Paul was arrested as well as his friend George, who wasn’t involved with any of the uprisings. They were both illegally tried then executed on the 23rd and 24th October 1865.

The rebellion had a huge effect in both Jamaica and Britain. London society was split into two. One half wanted Edward to be tried for murder, this included liberally minded politicians and Charles Darwin.

The other half defended his actions and believed he responded correctly, the author Charles Dickens was a supporter of Edward.

Edward was eventually charged with murder however, he never went to trial.

Paul Bogle was named a National Hero in Jamaica in 1969.

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