Jamaica College was founded in 1789 as the Drax Free School in the parish of St. Ann by Charles Drax, a planter of that parish.
Drax came to Jamaica from Barbados in 1721 and left the money in his will to establish a charity school in St. Ann. There was some delay and legal proceedings before the money was handed over to the St. Ann Vestry. In 1806 Walton Pen was bought for the site of the school, and a year later another act of Legislature gave the school the name, “The Jamaica Free School”.
In 1879, during the governorship of Sir Anthony Musgrave, provision was made by law for the Jamaica Free School, under a new name, The Jamaica High School, to come under the control of the Jamaica School Commission. The school now had a new headmaster, Reverend (later Archdeacon) William Simms. This law also authorized the removal of the school from Walton Pen in St. Ann in 1883, and classes were conducted in the Barbican Great House until 1885.
The buildings at Hope were opened on 9th July, 1885, and the first classes here took place in September of the same year.
In September, 1890 a college was opened in connection with the school, which was known as University College. In 1902 the Jamaica High School and University College were amalgamated under the name Jamaica College.
Jamaica College developed as a boarding institution until 1967. It drew most of its students from among the “well-to-do”.
Today, as a day school, it boasts students from a wide cross-section of the community. Over the years it has nutured a rich tradition in athletic and academic fields. Its Old Boys continue to play important roles in the religious, political, business and professional services of our country. Its history continues to be written by its present students who respond to its motto,
“Fervet Opus in Campis”.
(Taken from the Jamaica College Year Book, 1988-1989)