Paul Bogle was a Jamaican Baptist Deacon, and is now one of Jamaica’s National Hero. Born in 1820 and died October 24, 1865. He was a leader of the 1865 Morant Bay Protests, which agitated for justice and fair treatment for all in Jamaica. He was good friends with another one of Jamaica’s National Heroes, George William Gordon. In 1864, Gordon made Bogle a deacon in the Baptist church.
As social injustices and peoples grievances grew Bogle led a group of small farmers 45 miles to discuss their grievances with Governor Eyre in Spanish Town, but they were denied an audience. This left the people of Stony Gut with a lack of confidence, and distrust for the Government, and Bogle’s supporters grew in number.
The beginnings of the Morant Bay Rebellion first started on October 7th, 1865 when Bogle and his supporters, attended a trial for two men from Stony Gut, a black man was put on trial and imprisoned for trespassing on a long abandoned plantation. One member of Bogle’s group protested in the court, over the unjust arrest and was immediately arrested, angering the crowd further.
The black residents of Stony Gut went into protest and got the man freed by force. It was later noted that about 27 of these men from the village had warrants out for their arrests for offenses such as assaulting the police and rioting. Following that event and news, Paul Bogle lead a group of about 280 black men and women into Morant Bay Town on October 11, 1865, it was due to conditions such as poverty and injustice in the society as well as the lack of public confidence in the central authority that this protest was happening.
They fought the police, again forcing them to retreat to Morant Bay. A few days later on 11 October 1865 there was a vestry meeting in the Court House. Bogle and his followers, armed with sticks and machetes, went to the Court House. The authorities were shaken, and a few people in the crowd threw stones at the volunteer militia, who fired into the crowd, killing seven people.
The crowd retaliated, setting fire to the Court House and nearby buildings. When the officials tried to leave the burning building they were killed by the irate crowd outside. Leading the Morant Bay rebellion, he was captured and hanged on 24, October 1865 in the Morant Bay Court House by the United Kingdom authorities.
Due to his close ties with politician George Gordon, Mr. Gordon was also arrested in Kingston, was tried and later hanged in October. Now George was not a part of the rebellion but he got convicted anyway. Paul’s efforts did not go unnoticed because it paved to way for courts to practice just judgement as well as an attitude change in public officials. That is why he was named a National Hero of Jamaica in 1969 and as a result his head placed on the $2 Jamaican note in the same year.
The note was however phased out in the year 1989. After the phasing out of the $2 note, his head was chosen again to be on the Jamaican 10cents coin which has been in circulation since 1991. A friend and descendant of Bogle had stated that, many family members, fearing further reprisals by the authorities, scattered to other parts of the island, some even changed their names.