National Heroine … The Rt. Excellent Nanny of the Maroons (1700-1740)


Nanny, or Grande Nanny as she was called, was the leader of the Maroons at the beginning of the 18th century. She was known by both Maroons and the British settlers as an outstanding military leader who became a symbol of unity and strength for her people.

Nanny was reported to have been a small, wiry woman with piercing eyes. Yet, to most Jamaicans and to the descendants of the Maroons themselves, she is a larger than life figure and several myths and legend relate how she led her warriors to triumph over the British army. She is also well known for her knowledge of herbal medicines and West African (Akan) religious practices.

The famed leader led a settlement in the hills of the Blue Mountains called Nanny Town, which is reported to have fallen to the British in 1734 under the leadership of Captain Stoddard. Nonetheless, inspite of the loss of battles such as this, the determination of the Maroons led to the British approaching the Windward and Leeward Maroons to sign peace treaties. The first treaty was signed 1739 by Cudjoe, leader of the Leeward Maroons and in 1749 Quao signed the second Treaty for the Windward Maroons.

Nanny holds the distinction of being the only female Jamaican National Heroine and has earned an important place in the living history of Jamaica.




Gottlieb, Karla. A history of Queen Nanny: the mother of us all. Brenton N.J: Africa World               Press, 2000.

Tuelon, Alan. ‘’Nanny-Maroon Chieftainess.’’ Caribbean Quarterly 19. 4, 1973: 20-25.