The Beckfords

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
By 1720, Jamaica, captured from the Spanish by a Cromwellian force in 1655 and having 10 times the combined area of all the other English sugar islands, had become the key sugar producer, helped as elsewhere by an influx of major planters from Barbados. For a hundred years it would remain the most important possession in the British Empire, its primacy for defense contributing to the loss by Britain of the North American colonies. But because of Jamaica’s mountainous interior, which gave hope to rebellious slaves, it was also the most savagely brutal of England’s slave colonies, with uprisings and their vengeful aftermath occurring almost every year.