St James is a suburban parish, located on the north west end of the island of Jamaica. Its capital, Montego Bay, derived from the Spanish word Manteca (lard) because many wild hogs were found there from which they made lard. It was named publicly the second city of Jamaica, behind Kingston, in 1981. However, Montego Bay became city in 1980 through an act of the Jamaican Parliament. The parish is the birthplace of The Right Excellent Samuel Sharpe (died 1833), one of Jamaica’s Seven National Heroes.

When the Spanish occupied Jamaica, Montego Bay was an export point for lard, which was obtained from wild hogs in the forests. In many of the Jamaica’s early maps, Montego Bay was listed as “Bahia de Manteca” (Lard Bay). The parish was given the name “St James” in honour of King James II by Sir Thomas Modyford, the island’s first English Governor. At the beginning of the English rule, the parish was one of the poorest; it had no towns, few inhabitants and little commerce, except for the exported lard. However, after the treaty with the Maroon in 1739, St James became one of the most important sugar producing parishes. Annually, more than 150 ships arrived in Montego Bay bringing slaves and supplies, and taking sugar. Commerce developed as wealthy merchants and planters erected many elaborate town houses. In 1773 Montego Bay had the only newspaper outside of Kingston – The Cornwall Chronicle.