By aleksandrz, May 3 2016 06:00AM
Francis Williams, born around 1702, was apparently the youngest of the three sons of John and Dorothy Williams, Free Blacks, who, in 1708, with their sons, were granted by the House of Assembly the privilege of not being subject to slave evidence in court, a status usually reserved for Whites.
About 1716, the Governor, the Duke of Montague, proposed an experiment to find out whether a Black man could equal a White man if he was given the same education and opportunities. He chose Francis Williams, and sent him to England, first to a grammar school, and then to the University of Cambridge, where he made considerable progress in mathematics and other branches of science, and also in the classics, an essential part of the education of an 18th century gentleman. He wrote a considerable quantity of Latin poetry in the style of the day, often addressed to Governors of Jamaica. After several years Williams returned to Jamaica, where he opened a school in Spanish Town, the capital of Jamaica, under the Governor's patronage. He taught reading, writing, Latin, and the elements of mathematics. He trained one of his Black pupils to take over the school. Possibly Coloured and poorer White citizens of the capital may have disregarded Williams' colour and sent their boys to be taught by a Cambridge educated scholar.
It seems that Williams died around 1770. Sadly the teacher he had trained to continue to run the school had some kind of mental break-down and there seem to be no further references to the school.