The Arawak and Taino indigenous people originating from South America settled on the island between 4000 and
1000 BC. When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1494 there was already an
Christopher Columbus claimed Jamaica
for Spain after landing there in 1494. Columbus' probable landing point was
Dry Harbour, now called Discovery Bay. St. Ann's Bay was the "Saint Gloria" of Columbus
who first sighted Jamaica at this point. One mile west of St. Ann's Bay is
the site of the first Spanish settlement on the island, Sevilla, which was abandoned in 1554 because
of numerous pirate raids.
The capital was
moved to Spanish Town, now located in the parish of St.
as early as 1534. It was then called "Santiago de la Vega".
In 1655, Oliver
Cromwell dispatched a fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir William Penn, to
conquer Santo Domingo. After meeting heavy resistance, the English retreated,
taking the island of Jamaica instead.
After WW II Jamaica slowly gained
increasing independence from the United Kingdom and in 1958, it became a
province in the Jamaica attained full independence by
leaving the federation on the 6th of August 1962.
The House of Colón 1536-1655
In 1536 a grandson
of Christopher Columbus was made a Marquess of Jamaica. His father Diego
Colón had continued to fight for the remainder of his father's titles of
which he had been deposed, and was made viceroy of the Indies in May, 1511.
He continued to resent encroachments on his power and to fight for all of his
father's privileges thereafter and made trips to Spain in 1515 and 1523 to
plead his case without success. After his death, a compromise was reached in
1536 in which his son Luis Colón (1519/20-1572) was named admiral of the
Indies and renounced all other rights for a perpetual annuity of 10,000
ducats, the island of Jamaica as a fief, an estate of 25 square leagues on
the Isthmus of Panama, and the titles of Duke de Veragua and Marquis de
Jamaica. The island remained in the possession of the descendants of Luis Colón until the English conquest in
The coat of arms of the House of the Duke of Veragua, Admiral
of the Indies and Marquess of Jamaica is described in a Register of the
Nobility of Andalusia, printed in 1588 .
Arms: Per pale
and a base per chevron embowed: 1. Gules, a castle Or; 2. Argent, a lion
Gules; 3. In waves of the sea Azure, five islands Or.
And a listel with the words A CASTILLA, Y A LEON MUNDO NUEVO DIO
Not in this description is the orb in
the third quarter.
Of this coat of arms there are two
versions which are illustrated here. The first version is from the above mentioned register,
the second from an unknown source.
The English Era and Independence
The following is taken from the website
of the National
Library of Jamaica:
“In giving consideration to what might
be the form of an appropriate Coat of Arms for an Independent Jamaica, both
Government and the Opposition reached the agreement that the existing Arms,
granted to Jamaica since 1661 by Royal Warrant and partially revised in 1957,
constituted "a badge of great
historical significance to the nation and should be retained".
The original Arms
were designed by William Sancroft, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury,
and the use of the Royal Helmet and Mantlings together is a unique
distinction accorded to Jamaica. However, the design has also been attributed
to William Juxon as he was the then Archbishop of Canterbury and not
Sancroft, as he assumed this position in December 1677.
The anonymous author who is the authority
for Sancroft's connection with the affair says "All this as I have
heard, was designed by the present Archbishop of Canterbury in the year
1661". This statement was written in 1684 when Sancroft was the present
The original Latin
motto, "Indus Uterque Serviet Uni" (Both Indies Will Serve One
Lord) has been changed to one in English: "Out of Many, One
People". The arms which bears a red cross with five golden pineapples
superimposed on it has a male and
female Taino (Arawak) as supporters. The Crest is a Jamaican crocodile
surmounting the Royal Helmet and Mantlings.
description of the Jamaican Coat of Arms as taken from the records of the
College of Arms, London reads:
Arms, Argent on a Cross Gules five pine-apples slipped OR: and upon a
representation of Our Royal Helmet mantled OR doubled Ermine, for the Crest,
On a Wreath Argent and Gules, Upon a Log fesse wise a Crocodile Proper: And
for the Supporters, On the dexter side a West Indian Native Woman holding in
the exterior hand a Basket of Fruits and on the sinister side a West Indian
Native Man supporting by the exterior hand a Bow all proper."
Changes in the Coat of Arms: The Jamaica coat of Arms has seen quite
a number of changes, but only three are officially recorded. These changes
occurred in 1692, 1957 and 1962 respectively.
Although the colours
of the Supporters are described as all proper, that is, in natural
colours, it should be noted that in the approved colour sketch the feathered
headdress and feathered skirts are red and white.
The single feather
in the female figure's headdress is red, and the headband ermine is winter
white. The three tall feathers on the male figure are red, the headband and
the shorter feathers alternately red and white, commencing with the red (on
the left as seen by the observer) and the ending with a white feather on the
right. The waistbands on the feathered skirts of both supporters are red.
The strips of
feathers making up the skirts are alternately red and white commencing with
the red (on the left as seen by the observer) and ending with outer white
feathers on the right.”
a photograph of a sculptured version click here
Obverse and reverse of the royal seal for Jamaica as in the register
of the College of Arms, Coll. Arms, Walker Grants 2, p. 5.:
On the obverse a native of Jamaica making an offer to king Charles
II. L.: CAROLVS II D. G. MAG BRIT. FRAN. ET HIB.
PER DOMIN JAMAICÆ.
On the reverse the achievement of Jamaica with helmet and crest and
the motto INDVS VTERQUE SERVIET VNI (Both Indies must serve one (Lord)). L.: ECCE ALIVM RAMOS PORREXIT IN ORBEM NEC STERILIS CRVX EST.
The note on the page reads:
Seale with the Armes, Crest & Supporters for
with the Reverse by Warrant to Mr
the Kings Graver. Dat Febr. 3rd 1661.
Car 2 d. 
An engraving of the seal is from a 18th century
collection of medals, coins and seals. On this engraving the motto on the
obverse is readable: DVRO DE CORTICE FRVCTVS QVAM DULCES. :
Jamaica Defence Force
Hubert de Vries 2008.09.18
Gonçalo Argote de Molina, Nobleza del Andaluzia, Sevilla, por Fernando
Diaz, año 1588. The original quotation reads:
….. Y don Christoval Colon primer
Conquistador de el nuevo mundo de las Indias, que como escrive Paulo Iovio en
sus Elogios, fue natural de Albizolo cerca de Saona de aquesta Señoria, de
quien deciende la Casa del Duque de//
de Veragua Almirãte de las Indias, y Marques de Xamayca. Cuyas Armas son un Escudo en Mantel, en el primero un Castillo
de oro en campo roxo, y en el segundo un Leo(n) Roxo en campo de plata, y en lo
baxo unas Ondas de plata y azul con cinco islas de oro, con una letra q(ue)
A Castilla, y a Leon mundo nuevo dio Colon. (...)
 ) As there was some doubt as to the proper blason of these arms they were confirmed in 1957, the royal helmet and mantling being allowed.
 ) Illustration from: Woodcock, Thomas & John Martin Robinson: The Oxford Guide to Heraldry. Oxford 1988, p. 158.
 ) Vertue,
Georges: Medals, Coins, Great Seals, and other works of Thomas Simon engraved
by Georges Vertue. Second Edition. London MDCCLXXX. (Digitized by Google).