Fifty years ago: Planned duel in 1770 recounted

The Oct. 13, 1965 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a predecessor of the Compass, recounted a story that happened in 1770 in Batabano: 

“It may be of interest to our readers to know who were the first inhabitants of Batabano in the district of West Bay. In the year 1770, a John Shearer Jackson arrived from Chatham, England. Shortly after, he married Elizabeth Bodden, daughter of Governor William Bodden, and from this union came the family of Jackson. Some time after, another Englishman surnamed Jennett arrived in Batabano. 

“In those days, land was owned simply by fencing in the portion one wanted. Jackson and Jennett each fenced in a portion. A dispute arose between the two men when one claimed the other had trespassed on his property. 

“To settle the dispute they decided to fight it out with pistols. The day was arranged for the fight. Someone informed Jennett not to fight Jackson as he was a good marksman. When Jennett understood this, he would not fight and the two men met, made friends and lived in peace. 

“The remains of Jennett’s house, built of lime and sand, can still be seen, but Jackson’s house was built where the Batabano cemetery is now. Pieces of plates, pots and wall have been found there. 

“This site is adjacent to the land purchased by Cable and Wireless Ltd. Thus we have the English owning land belonging to Englishmen long ago.” 



  1. This was an excellent article. Thank you for this, you shed light on an ancestor I never knew I had. One comment and some details however. I did some searching on Mr. John Shearer Jackson and the only one which comes up (in multiple sources) was born in 1777, 7 years after the stated year in the article. The Church of England in Jamaica has his christening registered.

    Which brings me to my second point, he was born in Jamaica, not Chatham. The only source I found about his British heritage was that he had an uncle who died in Cumbria (then the County of Cumberland) – the 1824 London Gazette obituary section names him.