THE WOLMER'S STORY
The history of Wolmer's
began with the death of its founder, John Wolmer, an English goldsmith,
on the 29th day of June, 1729. Little is known about John Wolmer,
but from his will, dated May 1729, it appears that he was an altruist,
who wished for the well-being of his fellow men. His altruism was
most profoundly demonstrated in his gratitude to faithful slaves by
bequeathing them their freedom. He also left his home, furniture,
a silver quarter tankard and £20 for his good friend, John Williams.
This suggests that he had no family, and it has been surmised that
he was a kindly disposed bachelor who, perhaps, regretted that he
never had children of his own and wished what he possessed to benefit
the youth of his country. In his will, John Wolmer left £2,300 from
his estate for the foundation of a Free School, in the parish where
he should happen to die.
Wolmer died 105 years before
the abolition of slavery, and among the provisions of his will was
the granting of freedom to a faithful slave, Peter la Campaign. This
slave was one of the attesting witnesses to the will. By giving the
necessary proof of execution by the Testator in order to obtain probate,
however, he had to release his right to his legacy. This did not deter
him from carrying out his obligation as an attesting witness. Thus
when the memory of the founder is celebrated, the role of Peter la
Campaign should not be forgotten.
The Wolmer's Trust was established
by an act of the Jamaica Legislature, and a co-educational institution
was set up. The school at that time as situated in downtown Kingston
and had an enrollment of five hundred (500) pupils. In 1895, the school
was reorganized as a secondary school and in 1896 the schools were
separated and independent Heads were appointed.
After the 1906 earthquake,
the Schools were moved to Quebec lands, north of the Racecourse. This
decision was taken after the earthquake destroyed almost all the buildings
at the original site.
Since John Wolmer's bequest,
there have been many other contributions to the schools by citizens.
The largest recorded legacy to Wolmer's was made in 1831 when Ellis
Wolfe donated £1000. In 1998, Vernon A Barrett, an Old Boy, endowed
the trust with $5 million for the three schools. Houses have been
named after several of the benefactors. Glasspole House was named
after His Excellency, the Most Honourable Sir Florizel Glasspole,
O.N., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., C.D., LL.D.(Hon) former Governor General
and Old Boy, who chaired the 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee
and was instrumental in the building of the joint sixth form block,
completed in 1984. Sir Florizel died on November 25th, 2000.
The Wolmer's Trust owns
all the lands housing the three schools, and is responsible for their
maintenance and repair.