Hinton East and Spring Garden: Fabled Magnificence of a Lost Jamaican Paradise

by DerdriuMarriner

Hinton East believed in Jamaica's beautiful sustainability. He left his world-famous garden for public viewing. But mismanagement prompted his heirs to revert to private access.

Contemporary accounts attribute to Isabella I (April 22, 1451 – November 26, 1504), consort queen of Aragón, queen of Castile and León, and wife of Ferdinand II (March 10, 1452 - Jan. 23, 1516), an imposing presence and intimidating personality.

Fact and tradition combine to portray the light-eyed, light-haired, light-skinned monarch as a results-oriented, strong-minded monarch. They identify few as one-upping her purposeful speech and resolute gaze. They indicate among the exceptions Christopher Columbus (By Oct. 31, 1451 – May 20, 1506). But they know that even the Genoa-born Italian explorer and navigator faltered in describing resplendent Jamaica.

Similar recognition undoubtedly prompts preservation and proliferation of gardens, of which Hinton East's is the most vaunted.

View of Lough Neagh in Maghery County Park, County Armagh: Armagh hugs the southern shore of Lough Neagh, largest freshwater lake in the British Isles ~

The elder branch of Hinton East's ancestors relocated from County Kent in South East England to County Armagh in northeast of island of Ireland (southeastern Northern Ireland).
southeastern Northern Ireland
southeastern Northern Ireland


Historical sources describe Hinton East (died Liguanea, Jamaica, winter 1792) as an Anglo Creole born to English parents. They do not preserve his birthdate or birthplace. They identify as ancestral homelands:

  • England’s County Kent;
  • Northern Ireland’s County Armagh during the kingship of James I (June 19, 1566 – March 27, 1625).

They indicate such motivations for the family’s migratory elder branch as:

  • Establishment in 1608 of the city of Armagh’s Royal School for grammar-schooling the sons of local farmers and merchants during the Plantation of Ulster (Irish: Plandáil Uladh);
  • Settlement by colonists from England and Scotland of six of Ulster Province’s nine counties.

The planned colonization is remembered as:

  • Government-encouraged in Armagh;
  • “Private-planted” in neighboring Antrim and Down.


Raymond Hall: great house on East property, known as Maryland Estate, in Jamaica's Blue Ridge Mountains ~

Raymond Hall, secluded from view on a bamboo-topped hill, yet offering to its owners a gorgeous panorama from its location 3000 feet above sea level in Liguanea range of Blue Mountains.
Frank Cundall, Historic Jamaica (1915), p. 219
Frank Cundall, Historic Jamaica (1915), p. 219


Captain John East played critical roles in 1655 – 1660 during the seizure of Spanish-controlled Jamaica by Admiral William Penn (April 23, 1621 - September 16, 1670) and General Robert Venables (1612? – July 1687). In 1663, he received from King Charles II (May 29, 1630 - February 6, 1685) a grant in southeast Jamaica’s Blue Ridge Mountains at Liguanea in modern-day’s St. Andrew's Parish. Maryland Estate’s great house was called Raymond Hall. The Captain and Martha Doughty were married on February 25, 1676. They were the parents of six daughters. Their only son and daughter-in-law, Major Francis East (born 1678) and Sarah Hinton, who were wed on May 3, 1722, were the parents of:

  • Three daughters;
  • Three sons.


Portrait of Edward East and Family: 1775 painting by English artist Philip Wickstead (? - c. 1786/1790)

Philip Wickstead painted a series of portraits of Jamaica's planters.
Philip Wickstead painted a series of portraits of Jamaica's planters.


In 1761, Major East's youngest son, Edward East, Esquire (July 1732 - 1785) married Amy (died 1772), daughter of James Hall, Esquire of Hyde Hall, Jamaica. Their son, Sir Edward Hyde East (September 9, 1764 – January 8, 1847), received:

  • A baronetcy;
  • His Uncle Hinton East’s estate.

Contemporaries respected Hinton East’s political and socio-economic power-holding as:

  • Court of the Vice-Admiralty deputy registrar, 1771;
  • Receiver general, 1779, to all cargo entering the island;
  • House of Assembly member from Kingston, 1784;
  • Judge Advocate General of Militia, 1787.

But the planter-interests supporter was known worldwide as such an expert botanical collector that the "story of botanic gardens in Jamaica" (Mordecai, p. 2) may be said to have started with Spring Garden.


In southward journey to Caribbean Sea, Hope River flowed alongside Hinton East's property ~

Ruins of Hope River Aquaduct, in Mona, a former sugar plantation about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Kingston, Jamaica: built in 1758 by Thomas Hope Elletson (bap. October 11, 1725; buried January 26, 1760), owner of Mona Estate sugar plantation.
southeastern Jamaica
southeastern Jamaica


As a successful Oxford-educated lawyer and wealthy coffee planter, Hinton East became the lan- and seed-exporting and importing business owner-operator of Spring Garden by 1770. According to Charles Speering’s survey in March 1785, Spring Garden claimed 193 acres (78.10 hectares) of the Blue Mountains above Gordon Town. The total included:

  • 1 acre as an orchard and pinery;
  • 4 acres in garden.

The fertile landholding was alongside the Kingston-area stretch of the Caribbean Sea-destined Hope River, whose name honors the memory of Captain East’s fellow career officer and sugar estate-operating neighbor, Major Richard Hope. It was overlooked by a hill whose habitable spaciousness and scenic views accommodated Hinton East’s:

  • Bathing house;
  • House;
  • Kitchen;
  • Overseer’s house;
  • Stable;
  • Wash house.


First pineapple grown in England, presented to Charles II by royal gardener John Rose: native to Brazil & Paraguay, pineapples were introduced into Jamaica by Taíno tribes, ca. 650-900 C.E.

1675 painting attributed to Hendrik Danckerts (c.1625 - 1680)
1675 painting attributed to Hendrik Danckerts (c.1625 - 1680)


Hinton East catalogued all introduced and native plants at Spring Garden into a list which was published posthumously in the Hortus Eastensis of 1794. The inventory covered nearly 600 plants. It included the following categories of edible and ornamental plants:

  • Fruits and vegetables (asparagus, barberry, beets, carrots, celery, eggplant, jackfruit, mango);
  • Herbs and spices (cardamom, ginger, rosemary, senna leaf, turmeric);
  • Ornamentals and wildflowers (amaranthus, amaryllis, bird-of-paradise, gardenia, hibiscus, jasmine, lilac, lily, mullein, primrose, wallflower);
  • Shrubs and trees (baobab, holly, horse chestnut, oak, sassafras, tamarind, walnut, weeping willow, white mulberry).

But the list outlived the legacy since Spring Garden's demise -- after its temporary incarnation for public viewing as the Botanical Gardens of Liguanea -- followed its creator's death.


Jamaica's House of Assembly until 1872, now St. Catherine Parish Council ~

Hinton East represented Kingston in the House of Assembly in 1784.
Spanish Town, St. Catherine Parish, southeastern Jamaica
Spanish Town, St. Catherine Parish, southeastern Jamaica


According to Hinton East’s will, Spring Garden was supposed to:

  • Become the property of the House of Assembly;
  • Continue as a garden to be enjoyed by the public.

Sir Edward Hyde East was the executor of his uncle’s estate. Because of his diligence, Spring Garden was transferred to governmental ownership. But despite his efforts, it was transferred back to private ownership in 1810. The reasons for realization and reversal of Hinton East’s will were twofold:

  • Conflicting priorities;
  • Disappointing showings.

Visitors were unable to appreciate Spring Garden, whose beauty was subverted by James Wiles (January 16, 1768 – October 9, 1857), government botanical gardens head botanist strong on distributing new plants (especially breadfruit) and weak on maintaining old collections.


"The Wild Tamarind of Jamaica with Scarlet Pod and Barbet": 1872 painting by Marianne North (October 24, 1830 – August 30, 1890) ~ Hinton East's garden featured tamarind (Tamarindus indica) trees.

During her 1871-1872 visit to Jamaica, botanical painter Marianne North stayed on Hinton's plantation: "a house half hidden amongst the glorious foliage of the long-deserted botanical gardens" (p. 81)
Marianne North's Jamaican flora
Marianne North's Jamaican flora

Conclusion: Fabled magnificence of a lost garden, still present in garden lovers' imaginations


Over two centuries later, Hinton East's holdings still belong to family descendants. Descendants of his fabled plants can be found in:

  • Mangoes that he introduced through cargo seized by Captain Marshall of Lord Rodney’s HMS Flora from a Hispaniola-destined, Mauritius-originating French ship in 1782;
  • The 200-acre (80.94-hectare) Royal Botanical Gardens, from Major Hope’s estate.

His Garden House changed in name to Wai-Rua. It was devastated by:

  • Earthquake in 1907;
  • Fire after World War II.

But Spring Garden will survive as long as the Hortus Eastensis can be accessed. The garden, once described as "perhaps the most magnificent establishment of its kind in the world" (Mordecai, p. 3), will remain forever in the imagination of inveterate garden lovers.


hibiscus in Holywell National Recreation Park ("park within a park"), Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, overlooking Kingston: hibiscuses were cultivated in Hinton East's garden

southeastern Jamaica
southeastern Jamaica



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


view of Blue Mountains, St Andrews Parish, from former Irish coffee plantation, Strawberry Hill, Irish Town (area founded by Irish immigrant coopers in 19th century)

southeastern Jamaica
southeastern Jamaica

Sources Consulted


"Botanical Institutions of Jamaica." Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information (Royal Gardens, Kew), Vol. 1906, No. 3 (1906): 61-68

Broughton, Arthur. Hortus Eastensis: Or, A Catalogue of Exotic Plants Cultivated in The Botanic Garden, in the Mountains of Liguanea, in the Island of Jamaica. To Which Are Added, Their English Names, Native Places of Growth, By Whom Introduced, and, As Far As Can Be Ascertained, the Epoch of their Introduction, &c. &c. A New Edition. Jamaica: Alexander Aikman, M.DCC.XCIV (1794).

  • Available via HathiTrust at: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011633496

Clammer, Paul; and Sainsbury, Brendan. 2014. Jamaica. Lonely Planet Travel Guide.

Cundall, Frank. Historic Jamaica. With Fifty-Two Illustrations. London: West India Committee (for Institute of Jamaica), 1915.

  • Available at: http://archive.org/details/cu31924020417527

Cundall, Frank. Studies in Jamaica History. With illustrations by Mrs Lionel Lee. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Co. (for Institute of Jamaica), 1900.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: http://archive.org/details/ cu31924020438929

"Cunha Cunha Pass -- Hiking Blue Mountains, with Family & Friends." Jamaica Tour Society. May 24, 2014. Laura Goodman. Blog. jamaicatoursociety.org

  • Available at: http://jamaicatoursociety.org/cunha-cunha-pass-hiking/

"1802 Jamaica Almanac Public Officers." Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library. Retrieved October 13, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Members/1802al05.htm

Fawcett, William. "The Public Gardens and Plantations of Jamaica." Botanical Gazette, Vol. 24 No. 5 (November 1897): 345-369.

Hemsley, W. Bottom. The Gallery of Marianne North's Paintings of Plants and Their Homes, Royal Gardens, Kew: Descriptive Catalogue. London: Spottiswoode & Co., 1882.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/gallerymarianne01hemsgoog

Higman, B.W. Jamaica Surveyed: Plantation Maps and Plans of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Kingston: University of West Indies Press, 2001.

"Hope Botanical Gardens." Visit Jamaica: Things To Do > Honeymoon Attractions. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.visitjamaica.com/hope-botanical-gardens

Mayntz, Melissa. "Hope Gardens." About.com: About Home > Birding / Wild Birds > Birding Travel. Retrieved October 13, 2014.

  • Available at: http://birding.about.com/od/birdingtravel/gr/Jamaica-Hope-Gardens.htm

"Jamaica and Jamaican Food." Food Reference: Food Trivia & Facts > Jaboticaba to Junket > Jamaican Food. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.foodreference.com/html/f-jamaica-food-trivia.html

"Jamaica's Botantical [sic] Gardens: Worth More Than Gold." Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0021.html

Mordecai, Morton. "Cinchona 'The Nearest Place to Heaven.'" Jamaica Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2 (May 1984): 2-9.

North, Marianne. Recollections of a Happy Life: Being the Autobiography of Marianne North. Edited by her Sister, Mrs. John Addington Symonds. In two volumes. Vol. I. New York and London: Macmillan and Co., 1894.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/recollectionsofh01nortuoft

"Public Gardens & Avenues." Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://moa.gov.jm/Gardens/index.php

"1776 Jamaica Almanac." Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library. Retrieved October 13, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Members/1776al01.htm

Wiles, James, ed. Hortus Eastensis: Or, A Catalogue of Exotic Plants Cultivated in The Botanic Garden, in the Mountains of Liguanea, in the Island of Jamaica. To Which Are Added, Their English Names, Native Places of Growth, By Whom Introduced, and, As Far As Can Be Ascertained, the Epoch of their Introduction, &c. &c. A New Edition. Jamaica: Alexander Aikman, Junior, 1806.

  • Available via HathiTrust at: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/009713465

Wiltshire, Ernest. "Jamaican Estates in 1837: Extracts from The West Indies in 1837; Being the Journal of a Visit to Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Jamaica; Undertaken for the Purpose of Ascertaining the Actual Condition of the Negro Population of Those Islands by Joseph Sturge & Thomas Harvey, London, Hamilton, Adams & Co. 1838." Ancestry.com: Rootsweb. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~jamwgw/1837esta.htm

Wood, Delroy. 5 September 2011. "Road Trip! -- Hope Gardens." The Juice Man: Family Life. Retrieved October 13, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.juicemanonline.com/jm/parents-corner/family-life/item/67-road-trip-hope-gardens?tmpl=component&print=1


"In the Blue Mountains, Jamaica": 1865 oil by Frederick Edwin Church (May 4, 1826 –April 7, 1900)

Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York City
Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York City
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/19/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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