a1 Monash University
In the several works on the great controversy aroused by Governor Edward John Eyre's measures for suppressing the Morant Bay rebellion, in Jamaica in October 1865, British government reactions and decisions have been surprisingly neglected. For the best part of two years at the beginning of this period the government had to deal with a most serious political as well as colonial crisis. Two successive ministries were involved in this. Lord Russell's Liberals received news of the rebellion in the depths of the 1865–6 parliamentary recess. Public dispute was therefore kept, temporarily, at a distance which policy-makers could welcome. The government appointed, in December 1865, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Jamaican troubles. Its report, which alone amongst official sources has attracted much attention from writers on the subject, was released shortly before the end of June 1866, when the Liberals, defeated in parliament, resigned. The Derby Conservatives then taking office continued the Liberals' policies over Jamaica and Governor Eyre, a deceptively simple task.