‘The Blood that Testifies’: The Jamaica Controversy in Jamaica

R. W. Kostal

in A Jurisprudence of Power

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551941
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191714320 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern Legal History

 ‘The Blood that Testifies’: The Jamaica Controversy in Jamaica

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In January 1866, three British officials, two of them prominent lawyers, arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, to institute a Royal Commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the Morant Bay uprising and its suppression. After eliciting testimony from scores of persons, the Royal Commission concluded that the uprising had posed significant dangers to peace and security in Jamaica, but that the ensuing suppression under martial law had been prosecuted with unjustified ferocity. Meanwhile, with the encouragement of the Colonial Office, the authorities moved to prosecute white colonists and officials for murder and other abuses of power during the suppression. In the result, the prosecutions were rebuffed by grand juries. The final report of the Royal Commission concluded that Governor Eyre had mishandled the suppression, and that he be relieved of duty. The Russell government acted on this advice, but refused to initiate legal action against Eyre or his senior military officers.

Keywords: Jamaica Royal Commission; martial law; grand jury nullification; Edward Eyre

Chapter.  34665 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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