Thu | Apr 9, 2020

Dudley McLean | The fictional character Annie Palmer

Published:Wednesday | December 11, 2019 | 12:40 AM
In this painting, the young girl (third left) is believed to be Annie Palmer.

It is often said that if you wish to hide anything from Jamaicans, “put it in a book”. I have found the noise about the Annie Palmer costume in the recently held Miss Universe Pageant filled with disinformation by reputed historians and poor journalism.

An examination of the Official Archival Evidence of Annie Palmer reveals that she was never known to slaves or her contemporaries as ‘The White Witch of Rose Hall’. The so-called legend was an invention by H.G. Delisser for his book published in 1929.

Geoffrey S. Yates, assistant archivist, JAMAICA ARCHIVES, took the time out in 1965 to examine the Rose Hall legend in ‘Rose Hall – Death Of A Legend’. His conclusion was that the title ‘The White Witch Of Rose Hall’ was invented by H.G. DeLisser for his novel which was published in 1929 – almost 100 years after the abolition of slavery!

Rose Hall was built by the Honourable John Palmer, custos of St James, somewhere between 1770 and 1780. He was never the custos of St Thomas. Neither Rosa Palmer, the first Mistress of Rose Hall, nor was Annie Palmer ever murdered by slaves at Rose Hall or Palymyra, and there is absolutely no evidence that either of them was involved in debauchery or unnatural cruelty; the commonly held tales are without any foundation. Annie Palmer was born in 1802 in Lucea, and was never French, neither Haitian.

The Royal Gazette and The Kingston Chronicle newspapers during 1827 have no documented information or articles about Rosa Palmer or Annie Palmer killing their husbands. Additional confirmation can be found in Gloria Robertson’s article titled ‘The Rose Hall Legend: was it really Annie?’ (West India Reference Library); printed in the Jamaica Historical Society Bulletin of December 1964.

Let us elevate our intellectual acumen rather than promoting rumours of the past 90 years driven by the perfecting of a malicious invention published in a novel.

Email feedback to dm15094@gmail.com and columns@gleanerjm.com