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A Brief History of Jamaica College

Jamaica College first opened its doors in 1795, as The Drax Free School in the vestry of the St. Ann’s Bay Courthouse in the parish of St. Ann. It was named for Charles Drax, a St. Ann planter who had left an endowment of over 5,000 pounds sterling for the establishment of a free school in his will, some years before. In 1806, Walton Pen in St. Ann was purchased to house the school, and it was renamed The Jamaica Free School.

In 1879, under the governorship of Sir Anthony Musgrave, provision was made by law for the institution to come under the control of the Jamaica School Commission, and to be called The Jamaica High School. Also, in that year, Reverend (later Archdeacon) William Simms was appointed as the new headmaster. In 1883, the new law also authorized the removal of the school to the Barbican Great House in St. Andrew. There it remained until 1885, when it was moved to buildings at Hope (the current site of the school). These were opened on July 9, 1885, and the first classes took place there in September of that year.

First University College

In September 1890, a college, then known as University College, was opened in connection with the school. In 1902, the Jamaica High School and the University College were amalgamated under the name Jamaica College. This made JC the first University College of Jamaica, long before the founding of the University of the West Indies in the mid-20th Century.

From 1902 to 1967, JC was developed as a boarding institution for male students. Since 1967, the College has functioned as a day school and hosts boys from a wide cross section of the community.

Outstanding Academic and Athletic Achievement

The school holds a special position in the Jamaican education system by its tradition of outstanding academic and athletic achievement. Over its progressive history, it has produced a significant number of graduates who have become leaders in academia, business, law, medicine, engineering, sports and politics. It has a strong Alumnae Association with Chapters in New York, Canada, Florida and the UK. The history of Jamaica College continues to be written, as the school responds to a changing global environment with the determination to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s world.