“He huffed and he puffed ...”
Most of the earlier historical landmarks have been destroyed by hurricanes and earthquakes. Very few traces, apart from place names, therefore remain of the Spanish occupation. In 1692 an earthquake destroyed Port Royal which, because of being the base for English buccaneers such as Henry Morgan, had become famed as the most splendid town in the West Indies.
In 1907 another earthquake damaged much of Kingston. Some of the historic buildings which are still standing, including the 18th century churches at Port Royal, St Ann’s Bay and Montego Bay, are now in the care of the National Trust Commission. The Great Houses are a reminder of the British settlers; some have been converted into hotels or museums. Jamaica has the best preserved historical records in the Caribbean, held at the Institute of Jamaica, Kingston, and the Spanish Archives, Spanish Town. The copperplate slave returns (officially required from 1817) make fascinating reading, recommended for tracing family history, access free. In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert travelled the length of the island causing extensive damage in all areas. There is hardly any sign of Gilbert now.