Hanover is located at the northwestern end of the island and is bordered by Saint James to the east and Westmoreland to the south. Its capital is Lucea which, in the 1750s, served as many as 16 prosperous sugar plantations, making it a bigger town than Montego Bay at the time! Many European Jews settled in this busy port town in the 18th Century as merchants and shopkeepers. It is also thought that the first ship bringing Scottish Presbyterian missionaries landed in Lucea and might explain the strong presence of Presbyterians in the parish.
Hanover parish was established in 1723 and is named in honor of the English king, George I, who was from the German House of Hanover, and ruled Great Britain from August 1, 1714 until his death on June 11, 1727.
The parish covers about 174 square miles and is Jamaica’s third smallest parish. Hanover has a population of about 68,000, nearly 6,000 of those living in the capital of Lucea. Some of the parish’s other major towns are Green Island, Sandy Bay, Hopewell and Negril (it shares the Negril strip with Westmoreland parish).
Hanover has a mountainous terrain with several coves and bays along its coastline, and six rivers, two of them flowing into the Lucea harbor. The land-locked horseshoe-shaped harbor makes it one of the safest on the island and some historians claim it could hold 300 ships at once. The coastal coves were popular with pirates; the notorious Henry Morgan often sheltered in this harbor and later purchased 4,000 acres of land in the area. The harbor was used to export bananas until after the 1960s and was eventually closed in 1983. The Negril area’s Bloody Bay allegedly got its name because whales were killed there. Bloody Bay was the meeting point for ships that went to Europe in convoys and for naval ships going to defend the island.
Residents of this rural parish produce sugar cane, ginger, rice, pimento (allspice), turmeric, breadfruit and arrowroot. Hanover is also known for its yams; the Lucea yam was exported in large quantities during the 1800s to Jamaicans working on plantations and railroads in Cuba and Panama. There is also a great deal of livestock reared here including pigs, goats and some celebrated breeds of cattle.
Although Hanover parish shares the Negril resort area with Westmoreland parish, the remainder of the parish is not particularly touristy. The exceptions are Round Hill and Tryall, with one of the top golf courses in the Caribbean. But there is so much history in this parish and that translates into a ton of things to see and do while visiting or just passing through. Check them out here.
Hanover was most notably the birthplace of The Right Excellent Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante, a Jamaican politican and labor leader, who was born to an Irish Catholic plantation owner and a mother with Taino Indian origins, founded the Jamaica Labour Party, and served as Jamaica's first official Prime Minister when the country gained independence from Britain in 1962. He is one of Jamaica's seven National Heroes.
Hanover is also the birthplace of reggae stars Congo Ashanti Roy (born Roydel Johnson, 1943, of the Congos), Benjamin "Benjy Myaz" Myers (of Haddington) and Siccature “Jah Cure” Alcock (Hanover, 1978), and of the "Queen of the Track", Merlene Ottey, who was born in Cold Spring in 1960. In the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, she became the first female English-speaking Caribbean athlete to win an Olympic medal. Back in Jamaica, she was awarded an Officer of the Order of Nation, and the Order of Distinction for ‘services in the field of sport’. Although she never won gold, she won 3 silver and 5 bronze medals along with 14 World Championship track medals while representing Jamaica. (She now resides in and competes for Slovenia.)