Grave Of Manleys’ Ancestor Found


Last week, a small, ancient cemetery going back to the days of slavery was uncovered at Paynestown, a farming community west of New Market, St Elizabeth. The earliest date found on the headstones is 1823, 15 years before Emancipation.

The headstone is that of John Chambers Coke, son of Edward Francis and Juliana Coke. John died in 1827.

But the most interesting headstone belongs to Samuel John Manley, who lived from 1832-1867. He died at age 35 on July 27, 1867, at The Kepp, an estate belonging to then customs of St Elizabeth John Salmon.

The research also found that Samuel John Manley was born in Yorkshire, England, and came to Jamaica circa 1850. He was a lay magistrate for St Elizabeth, listed in the Jamaica Almanac of 1865. It is noted that he was married to a former enslaved African.

Samuel John Manley’s children were Emma Alberga (1849-1879) John Wilfred Samuel Manley; Samuel Smith Manley (1851-1914); and Thomas Albert Samuel Manley, who was born in Roseburg, Porus, Manchester, in 1852, and who was married on January 15, 1890 and died March 22, 1899.

Thomas Albert Samuel Manley was married to Margaret-Ann Shearer. His children were Vera Koleen, Muriel, Douglas Roy, and Norman Washington Manley (1893-1969) – the father of Michael and Douglas. Thus, Samuel John Manley is the direct ancestor of two of Jamaica’s former prime ministers, one who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of independent Jamaica.


In reacting to the news of the discovery of Samuel John Manley’s grave, Ainsley Henriques, chairman of the Norman Manley Foundation, told The Gleaner (which had informed him of the discovery), that “the find of a tombstone identifying the site of the grave of Samuel John Manley is an extraordinary event. This grave site is most likely that of the grandfather of our National Hero the Right Excellent Norman Washington Manley, his elder sisters Muriel Millicent and Vera Holme, and his brother Douglas Roy.”

He continued, “The foundation is grateful to be advised of this find. We are sure that the family will also be fulfilled to know where their ancestor is buried. One of our challenges as a people is to recognise our ancestors, to pay tribute to them, and to make the efforts to appropriately preserve the sites of their burials so that they will not be forgotten.”

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