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A Jurisprudence of PowerVictorian Empire and the Rule of Law$
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Rande W. Kostal

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199551941

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199551941.001.0001

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‘The Blood that Testifies’: The Jamaica Controversy in Jamaica

‘The Blood that Testifies’: The Jamaica Controversy in Jamaica

(p.69) 2 ‘The Blood that Testifies’: The Jamaica Controversy in Jamaica
A Jurisprudence of Power

R. W. Kostal

Oxford University Press

In January 1866, three British officials, two of them prominent lawyers, arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, to institute a Royal Commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the Morant Bay uprising and its suppression. After eliciting testimony from scores of persons, the Royal Commission concluded that the uprising had posed significant dangers to peace and security in Jamaica, but that the ensuing suppression under martial law had been prosecuted with unjustified ferocity. Meanwhile, with the encouragement of the Colonial Office, the authorities moved to prosecute white colonists and officials for murder and other abuses of power during the suppression. In the result, the prosecutions were rebuffed by grand juries. The final report of the Royal Commission concluded that Governor Eyre had mishandled the suppression, and that he be relieved of duty. The Russell government acted on this advice, but refused to initiate legal action against Eyre or his senior military officers.

Keywords:   Jamaica Royal Commission, martial law, grand jury nullification, Edward Eyre

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