Rowntree’s Caribbean Plantations

In the late 1890s, Rowntree and Co. acquired several plantations on the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Dominica, which were then part of the British Empire.

Many of these were former slave plantations and the company adapted sugar mills and other infrastructure on the estates to cultivate cocoa, limes, bananas, coffee and coconuts.

In 1904, over 300 black labourers and 100 East Indian labourers worked on the Caribbean plantations, overseen by nine white managers.  By the outbreak of the First World War, Rowntree’s Jamaican estates were the largest exporters of cocoa on the island, shipping exclusively to the United Kingdom.  However, the company faced significant challenges in its Caribbean operations and had withdrawn from all estates by the early 1930s.

Why did Rowntree & Co. decide to acquire its own plantations in the Caribbean?

To find out answers, join the talk, ‘Rowntree’s Caribbean Plantations’ at Clements Hall, South Bank, York, on Friday, 9th February at 8pm. The speaker is Laura Strachan, post graduate in Public History from the University of York.

The talk is organised by The Rowntree Society and is free to attend, but booking is essential via the Eventbrite page here:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.