ST JAMES was included into the city of Port of Spain on June 1, 1938. In the 16th Century, the town of St James was the centre of the Northern Province of the Ameridians in Trinidad. St James was then called "Camocorabo" an Ameridian word which means "the place of silk cotton trees". Even today as we look around St James there are silk cotton trees to be found. Although Trinidad was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498. It was not until 1530 that Governor Antonio Cedeno made the first settlement when he set up a fort at "Camocorabo". The Spaniards diluted this name to Cumucarapo" from which the present name "Mucurapo" was derived. However, the fort was eventually taken over by the Ameridians. During this period Trinidad was still uncolonised, and it was in 1592, Domingo de Vera eventually claimed Trinidad for Spain in the name of Governor Antonio de Berrio, who was succeeded by his son Fernando de Berrio in 1597.
By 1793, due to the Cedula of population granting land to settlers from other islands an Irishman by the name of James Devenish arrived in Trinidad on the invitation of Monsieur Roume de St Laurent, a settler in Grenada who had visited Trinidad in 1777. Under the terms of the Cedula of Population - Catholics of any nationality were given more grants of lands. More grants were also given on the basis on the numbers of slaves that were brought along with the prospective land developers.
So it was that the Irishman James Devenish, a Catholic, brought along his wife, with many slaves and set up house in St James, which was then called "Peru" Estate - the name given by Devenish meaning treasure. The Peru Estate was one of the earliest Sugar Plantations in Trinidad.
In 1797, the Spaniards surrendered to the British and the "Peru Estate" prospered until it fell on hard times at the beginning of the 19th century and by June 1820 an agreement was made to sell Peru Estate to John Williams Henderson from the Grenadines. However, due to the terms and conditions stilpulated in the agreement the sald did not take place. Instead, another Irishman - James Woodford O'Brien, a son of Governor Hill and Post Master General at the time acquired a part of Peru Estate. James Woodford O'Brien married one Ann Matilda Stone, whose other sister Catherine Stone, had married Francisco Jose Salazar (the couple had no children). James Woodford O'Brien later sold Peru Estate to his brother-in-law Francisco Jose Salazar, who then renamed it Esperanza Estate.
On Salazar's death Catherine sold the western part of Esperanza and the remainder she willed to her three unmarried sisters, two lived in Woodbrook and the other Mary Angelina Stone lived with her brother-in-law James Woodford O'Brien on the site of the old St James Police Station - opposite the St James Gas Station. The St James Amphitheatre and Park now occupies the site. Incidentally BAYVILLE lies directly opposite the St James Amphitheatre.
Today St James is regarded as the most vital sub-division of the City of Port of Spain, developed from a sleepy village into a vibrant, and enterprising community. The town of St James is a model community, the best example of ethnic, cultural and spiritual harmony on the national landscape of Trinidad and Tobago.