Rose Hall Legend Public Debate in 1895

Letters from May 8th and 10th, 1895

Continutinuation of the 1895 letters to the Kingston Daily Gleaner about the origins of White Witch of Rose Hall.

The Kingston Daily Gleaner published a letter in 1895, which sparked a controversy over the story and identity of the White Witch of Rose Hall. This public debate went on for several months through the publication of several letters to the Gleaner, catching the attention and interest of the general public and ultimately shaping it into the story we now know.

May 8 - C. Plummer regarding overseer's letter

Published in Kingston-Gleaner-May-08-1895-p-7

Mrs. Palmer.

To the Editor of the Gleaner.

Sir, I wish to remove an erroneous impression from the minds of those who are writing about Mrs. Palmer of Rose Hall in St. James, and her monument in the Parish Church of Montego Bay. Jno. W. Broderick in a letter published in your valuable paper of 4th May states that Mrs. Palmer killed three husbands one a Military Officer, one a Barrister and one a Clergyman. But is Mr. Broderick correct about this statement. I really believe it is apocryphal, for she was commonly known as the remarkable Irish emigrant who in some mysterious manner became the mistress lady of Rose Hall. Her three husbands were imported emigrants on the estate -- one, the third, was a very illiterate and violent man who suddenly disappeared and his wife assumed the widow's weed and soon after this she became Mrs. Palmer.

I wish particularly to direct the attention of visitors to the Parish Church of Montego Bay to the beautiful monument of Mrs. Rosa Palmer of Rose Hall, the beloved wife of the Honble John Palmer, and not the so called Mrs. Ann Palmer, the lady fiend who succeeded her. It is alleged that this Irish emigrant resorted to the obeah practice in those days by removing Mrs. Rosa Palmer by slow poison.

The monument in the fine old church in Montego Bay is not only one of the finest in Jamaica but it is supposed to be the masterpiece of the elder Bacon whose genius as a sculptor has not been surpassed.

The cost of the monument was three thousand guineas.-I am, &c.,



May 10 - Overseer's Response to letter from C. Plummer

Published in Kingston-Gleaner-May-10-1895-p-7

The Notorious Mrs. Palmer.

To the Editor of the Gleaner.

Sir, -- Pray oblige me with this and the last insertion to trespass on your valuable time. Having observed in your to-day's issue an amusing lettersigned by C. Plummer, I consider it charity towards your readers not to permit them to be deceived by such an imaginary account, but accept the information of Mr. Plummer as correct as the cost of the monument -- three thousand guineas. I have no wish to enter into any controversy, relative to the life of Mrs. Palmer, having no interest in the matter beg to inform Mr. Plummer I am still of opinion what I wrote is correct and founded on facts. My information was not gleaned in a day or from one individual. Not only from an old gentleman, a neighbour and one who has seen Mrs. Rosa Ann Palmer, and from the old slaves and intelligent ones who know Mrs. Palmer and from many others all who are now resting in their graves. Mrs. Palmer might have been "Irish" (so was my father.) I have never heard of any other Mrs. Palmer of Rose Hall and Palmyra Estates. The portraits of the three husbands (Palmer being the fourth) in oil paintings I left on the estate. The one in military uniform, the first husband was painted by "Sir Joshua Reynolds" the other two are in their gowns.

I certify that the late John W. Davis the then veteran of the turf, told me at Rose Hall estate he was attending the races at Montego Bay when the body of Mrs. Rosa Ann Palmer was found smothered between the mattresses with a horse whip in her hand, and the jurors were all warned on the course. I left Rose Hall in 1859. To aid in proving that my assertions are not apocryphal I mention the following: Rose Hall and Palmer estates were mortgaged to Messrs. "Hawthern and Shedden of London, and were sold in Falmouth, Jamaica, at public auction, when I was Manager, I was present at the sale. The late Mr. Sewell who was then the Attorney bought them in for the firm then Hawthorn and Watson. They no doubt are the ones who could now settle this controversy. Here endeth the second epistle of

28 James Street, May 8th, 1895,

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