Rose Hall great house, Jamaica
In the late1700’s, this great house was built for John Palmer,
the wealthy owner of a very successful sugar plantation.
Rose Hall was built on a high ridge overlooking the
surrounding 6,600 acres, worked by more than 2,000 slaves.
On March 28, 1820, John summoned Annie Paterson to Montego Bay to become his wife.
Annie, standing 4’ 11’’ tall and only 17 years of age at the time, made a beautiful bride.
She is thought to be the widow of the builder’s grandnephew who had died quite suddenly
Some say, “Annie grew up in Paris, France and loved the glamour of French living” Others
say, “Annie was born in 1802, in England to an English mother and Irish father. At the age
of 10, her family moved to Haiti. After her parents died of yellow fever Annie was adopted
by a Haitian voodoo priestess.”
Whether she acquired the knowledge of the rituals and practices of “Voodoo” from the
slaves after she came to the Island or from her adopted family, she became familiar with
and quite skilled in it. Although it seemed a bit strange at first, she was a fast learner and
soon knew the power of this magic.
Annie could have had a wonderful life at Rose Hall, but “she missed the bright lights of
Paris or just became bored with the laid back Island living” so she began luring
innumerable men to her bed with the power of Voodoo. Whether white or black, slaves or
visitors she enticed them. When she grew tired of them, she killed them by poisoning,
stabbing, strangling and pouring boiling oil into their ears; then she buried them in
unmarked graves. These murders may have been committed to strengthen her powers.
When John Palmer found out she was having affairs with young slaves, he is said to have
beaten her with a riding whip. John Palmer died that night, and before long, rumors were
flying that his young wife had poisoned his wine.
After John’s death, Annie Palmer “began a reign of terror at Rose Hall.” She became quite
nasty, more lascivious, more diabolical and very mean spirited to her slaves and all who
worked on the plantation. She began Lording over them in vile and despicable ways.
Annie started her day by stepping onto a small balcony at the rear of the plantation
overlooking the yard where she had the slaves assembled. Here she issued the orders of
the day. “She would have some of her slaves whipped for just about no reason, often in
public to show the others just what they had in store if they disobeyed her orders in any
way. She had a dungeon built and would put them in there and torture them as punishment
for the slightest infraction of her orders; some she would even have executed.” It wasn’t
long before Annie Palmer earned the title, “White Witch of Rose Hall.” She gained quite a
reputation of being ruthless and evil to everyone in the area. Even the pirates that
frequented the area stayed away from her. Annie Palmer was widely feared as a black
She married again, boasting, “If I survive I’ll marry five.” When she was bored with him, it is
said, “She got rid of this husband in the same manner as the rest, acquiring his fortunes as
well.” Annie continued to dabble in voodoo, torture her slaves, and murder her lovers.
Some say, she made a final mistake at the age of 29, in 1831. “She murdered a young
man who had been in love with a young girl who happened to be the daughter of the
overseer of the estate.” They were to be married and the girl was heartbroken…the
overseer also was a high priest of Voodoo, something he didn’t want Annie to know. He
was furious at this action on Annie’s part and decided to do away with her using his magic
against hers. He prepared a special grave for her with specific markings and designed it
so that she would be unable to rise from the dead. He then went into the house and
engaged in a battle to the death of both of them, fighting both physically and with all the
magic he could muster from his years of practicing this very strange voodoo religion. They
then, “buried her in the grave he had prepared for her and that was supposed to be that!”
Annie’s power prevailed in spite of this attempt and her ghost is said to roam the house
and grounds of Rose Hall still today.
Others say, Annie Palmer was eventually murdered herself by one of her slave lovers that
same year. Fanciful legends of underground tunnels, blood stains and hauntings
Tours of the Rose Hall great house, Jamaica, can be scheduled on-line. It is the
centerpiece of a golf development, now.
Johnny Cash used to live near Rose Hall, and he wrote a song about Annie Palmer. It can be heard on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOSU5WMkOpo