Rectors of Devon Penn
Many would be surprised to learn however that the early history of Devon House dates back to the mid seventeenth century when Britain captured Jamaica from Spain. One of the central roles of the British Government was to introduce religion to the people of Jamaica, and Rev. John Zellers was among five Ministers selected for service in the island. On his arrival Rev. Zellers was appointed to serve the parish of St. Andrew. The glebe, as land attached to the Anglican Church was termed, was awarded to Rev. Zellers. In the letter of patent given by Charles 11 on May 1667 Rev Zellers was assigned, " land, meadow, pasture and woodlands..ye same containing 600 acres…together with all edifices, woods, trees, rents, commodities, ways and passages…and all mines and minerals whatsoever in ye premises.”
Devon Penn was part of the 600 acres awarded to Zellers. The glebe lands, which fell to Zellers, stretched from the site of the St. Andrew Parish Church, north to Sandy Gully, encompassing Old Church Road and including the grounds of the present Kings House. To the south it bordered Trafalgar Penn, now occupied by the British High Commission. Among the first undertakings by Zellers was the construction of a church on a piece of land, bordered by Upper Waterloo Road and West King’s House Road. Just before his death in 1700, Rev Zellers was fortunate enough to be able to serve the parish from the current site of the St. Andrew Parish Church. Fifty (50) years later the Rectory was built on foundations now occupied by the Devon House Mansion. It is believed that Rev George Eccles who served the parish between 1747-1760, was the first Minister to live in the new rectory. It was at the start of Rev. John Campbell’s tenure in 1782 that the vestry minutes indicate that some extensive repairs were undertaken on the Church Rectory, resulting in several major additions to the structure (additions which some believe to be a part of the architectural history of Devon House),
“A new stable with coach house 40 feet long and 18 wide in the clear…Your committee beg further that to recommend to the vestry the erection of another building of two rooms one above , the other underneath at the back of the present staircase to stand on either arch pillars 20 feet by 16 in the clear.”
It was in 1960 that Architect Tom Concannon, who led the restoration of Devon House expressed his suspicions that the history of Devon House does not begin with the construction of the Mansion in 1881. According to Concannon,
“ It is likely that the coach house (west) and the silver vaults near the coach house date from an earlier house…a rooom now connected to the main house, used in recent years as a swimming pool…suggest that the unit was not planned with the Stiebel construction in 1881.”
Nearly thirty years after making this intriguing assertion, an architect named Cox in studying the architectural design of the Devon House buildings argued,
“the bath house in relation to the main house strongly suggest those predated the Stiebel house. The brick work of the coach house and external wall to the west of the present court yard, the only wall to be built in English bond which became unfashionable in the 18th century in England, together with the two cook houses, suggest that these might date from the late 18th or early 19th centuries.”
Rev. John Campbell served the St. Andrew Parish Church until his death in 1813, and his son Alexander succeeded him as Rector. Alexander who grew up at the Devon Penn Rectory, also made the premises home for his children. During his 45-year tenure as Rector Alexander lived at the Rectory. There is every indication that like his father, Alexander was devoted to his duties as Rector, and almost to the end of his life he continued to serve his congregation, “The last baptismal register entry signed by him (Alexander) was on Nov 4 1858 and he died on December 8, 1858.”
Rev. Alexander Campbell served the St. Andrew Parish Church for 45 years making him the longest serving Rector in the early history of the Church.
Between 1858 – 1872 three Rectors (Richard Parton, William Mayhew and George Taylor Briane) served the Parish Church, however in 1872 the Campbell legacy was ignited when Alexander’s son Duncan led the Parsonage until 1878. For Duncan, his tenure at the Parish Church was almost as though he were at home again, carrying on a family tradition.
Rev. Duncan Houston Campbell is the third generation of Campbells that served the St. Andrew Parish Church.
The Rev. Hubert H. Isaccs was the last Rector residing at Devon Penn before the Church sold the property. Rev. Isaccs began his tenure in 1879, and after only two years the Rectory was sold to George Stiebel, however, he served the church for 21 years before his death in 1900.
1644 – 1700
1747 – 1760
1760 – 1768
John Poole LLB
1768 – 1782
John Campbell MA
1782 – 1813
Alexander Campbell MA
1813 – 1858
Richard Parton DD
1858 – 1860
William Mayhem MA
1861 – 1870
George Taylor Braine BA
1870 – 1872
Alexander Duncan Campbell
1872 – 1878
Hubert Headlam Isaacs MA