Our History

Over 400 years of Jamaican history

Once the site of an English coastal fort built for defence against Spanish and French invaders and pirates, and later developed as a working sugar plantation, Tryall possesses a heritage as romantic as its breathtaking views of the Caribbean. Vestiges of Tryall’s history including a cut stone aqueduct and the spectacular functioning waterwheel assembled around 1700 by Henry Fairchild, first owner of Tryall Estate still grace the landscape of the estate.

The Tryall Club is approximately twelve miles west of Montego Bay on the northern coast of Jamaica. The former sugar plantation consists of 2,200 acres of land once owned by a single family for over a century. It is an area of scenic beauty with one and a half miles of sea and a cornucopia of fruit and flowering trees. Flint River, fed by springs from the mountains which form the eastern border of the property runs through the plantation for some four miles before flowing into the sweeping Tryall bay manned by a cannon and jetty where the English once defended its shores.

Jamaica is a country steeped in history. The island has played a pivotal role since being discovered by Columbus in the fifteenth century, rapidly rising to prominence in the seventeenth century when Oliver Cromwell seized the island from the Spanish and claimed it for Britain. The eighteenth and nineteenth century saw Jamaica being the generator of vast wealth for British plantation owners through the cultivation of sugar and its by-products. Towards the end of the eighteenth century there were some 488 plantations dotted about Jamaica and the ports of Kingston and Port Royal played a greater strategic trading role than Boston in North-East America.

Tryall was one of the 488 plantations and a prominent one in the then parish of St. James (the parish of Hanover being subsequently created to honour King George I of England). Henry Fairchild purchased some 283 acres of land in 1673 and named his estate Tryall. Previously, these lands had been the home of Arawak and Taino Indians who were the native inhabitants of much of the Caribbean. The arrival of the Spanish brought disease from Europe which rapidly destroyed the indigenous population together with persecution. Between 1650 and 1660, Cromwell constructed a series of forts around the Jamaican coastline to repel the Spanish and French who repeatedly tried to recapture Jamaica. One of these forts was Fort Tryall and the remains still stand today to the east of our estate. Fairchild steadily increased his lands to well over 3,000 acres and these included Recovery to the south and Flint River to the east. In 1700, he ordered the erection of the waterwheel which still stands today and is in full working order. Water supplied by an aqueduct carries the water for two miles down through the hills to the waterwheel, the source being a dam on the Flint River which runs through the property. The aqueduct was built by slaves using a mixture of marl, ox blood and animal hair as cement and cut limestone blocks carried on the labourers backs.

The first Great House was built in 1747 when 176 slaves are recorded as being enslaved to Tryall. The current Great House which was built in 1834 is the third such structure, the previous two having been destroyed by hurricane.

For much of the nineteenth century the Allen family owned Tryall. This was a period of strife and rising discontent in Jamaica. The Baptist Rebellion which started in 1831 and ran into 1832 saw some 6,000 slaves rise up in Jamaica, demanding their independence, setting torch to many plantations and killing their owners as well as overseers. Tryall was not spared and Robert Allen met his death in 1832 during the uprising. The Browne family later acquired Tryall and remained owners for 100 years. During their tenure, Tryall became more of a Pen which is mixed use as in livestock and some cultivation. The latter included some sugar, coconut and pimento. Today, hundreds of pimento trees can be seen throughout the estate, the scent of allspice carried on the early morning breezes.

After the two world wars, the fortunes of many declined as people began to rebuild their lives following the devastation. During the second -world war, Jamaican bananas, a staple export had stalled due to the dangers of the ocean crossing at that time and similarly, coconut and pimento fell into decline. Now owned by the DeLisser’s  – one of the first Jewish families to settle in Jamaica in the seventeenth century – Tryall became more of a tourist attraction with visitors taking afternoon tea at the Great House while admiring the stunning views.

In 1957, a group of American businessmen visited Tryall and decided to make an offer to purchase the estate from William DeLisser. It was their intention to sell individual lots of land for the construction of villas and the formation of a private members club. They concluded their purchase in the same year. Cultivation came to an end and Tryall became The Tryall Club.

Today, Tryall is recognized as part of Jamaica’s National Heritage by the Government of Jamaica. There are many examples of our history still extant and Tryall continues to play a pivotal role in the life of the parish of Hanover.