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Akua (?- 1761?) known as the “Queen of Kingston” for her leadership in Tacky’s War, a rebellion of the enslaved in Jamaica, which lasted from April 1760 to October 1761. She was also known as Cubah, likely from an English mispronunciation of the Fante name Akuba. Although Tacky was executed quite early in the war, other leaders, like Queen Akua, continued his efforts throughout the island of Jamaica. Little information is available about her date or exact place of birth and death, though it is assumed she was executed in 1761, near or after the war’s ending. Although the exact name of the plantation where she resided is also unknown, sources state that she was owned by a “Jewess.” The surviving information of Akua’s life provide details of a woman who was elected Queen of Kingston by her fellow “Coromantees,” an English-derived word used to reference enslaved people from the Akan ethnic group of the Gold Coast in present day Ghana. Some sources mention Akua as being specifically of the Ashanti people.

Tacky’s War began between April 7th and 8th of 1760, the night of Easter Sunday and the early morning of Easter Monday. The rebels used a few factors to their advantage: the relaxed mood of white settlers during holiday periods; the significant numerical advantage (9:1) of the enslaved over the white colonists on the island; the absence of many landlords who lived in Britain rather than occupying their estates in Jamaica; and the low number of British troops on the island after many were transported to the French colony of Guadeloupe in 1759 as part of the Seven Years War with France. With these factors to their advantage, rebels from Frontier, Trinity, and Heywood Hall estates in the northern parish of St. Mary’s, having killed a shop keeper, seized Port Maria—which was without a garrison even though it held the island’s arms and ammunition. Now armed, the number of rebels quickly swelled to about 400 as they marched to Heywood Hall to destroy the sugar works and cane, then to the Esher estate, which was owned by a wealthy politician named William Beckford. At the Esher estate, they killed two white people and mangled a doctor who somehow survived the attack. Their advance, however, was challenged when two enslaved persons from the Frontier estate, home to many of the rebels, rode over 40 miles on horseback to alert Governor Henry Moore.

The governor, himself a Jamaican-born planter, immediately declared martial law and devised a plan to close in on the rebels from two sides. Executing this plan, Governor Moore sent the Seventy-fourth and Forty-ninth regiments into St. Mary’s and, relying on the treaties signed at the end of The First Maroon War, looked to the Maroons for further help quelling the revolt. At the end of The First Maroon War in 1739, colonial officials signed the first peace treaty with Cudjoe, leader of the Leeward Maroons. In exchange for autonomy and territory, the Maroons agreed to help catch fugitive slaves as a condition of their freedom and autonomy. The Maroons apparently honored this stipulation in 1760 for a Lieutenant Davy of the Scott’s Hall Maroons is credited for Tacky’s execution on April 14th, having shot and removed Tacky’s head to carry as proof of death. Although Tacky was executed early in the War, the larger scheme of insurrections has come to be known as “Tacky’s War” because his initial uprising on Easter Sunday initiated a wave of rebellions that would last until October of 1761.

Occurring about twenty years after the end of the First Maroon War, leaders of Tacky’s War aspired to head an independent, decolonized nation that would be shaped by Akan cultural practices, including enslavement and the appointment of Kings, Queens, and Chiefs. The objectives of the war were to extinguish the entire white population, enslave Africans who refused to join the rebellion, and—as was done in their home nations—partition the island off into small principalities, which would be headed by persons they appointed. Queen Akua herself was appointed by her fellow Akan, who reportedly gave her full queenly treatment. The Jamaican planter and historian Edward Long wrote in Volume Two of his History of Jamaica that the “Coromantins” elevated Akua to royalty, dubbing her the Queen of Kingston. He even reported that, during meetings, she was said to have sat beneath a canopy donning a robe upon her shoulders and a crown upon her head. When Queen Akua’s involvement in the rebellion was exposed, her owner’s Jewish religion reportedly made some white Christians uncomfortable. Some feared that Jews and Africans would conspire to take control of the island’s commerce. Nevertheless, colonial officials focused their attention on the larger threat of Akua’s influence over other enslaved people, ultimately deciding to separate the Queen from her following.

Queen Akua’s influence became known to British officials after the discovery of a “Coromantin” wooden sword sparked a hunt for evidence of a conspiracy. The sword reportedly had a “peculiar” structure, a red feather stuck into its handle, and was regarded as a signal for war among the Akan. Seeking out further evidence of war led officials to Akua, of whom they learned that Kingston’s Akan had rallied around, dubbing her the Queen of Kingston. In the Akan way, Queen Akua had chosen territory and had followers committed to her fight to place the island under Akan control. With knowledge of an emerging leader with influence over the island’s Akan, the British government ordered Akua to be deported from the island to Spanish Cuba—a regular destination for exiles—aboard the Royal Naval vessel, Norfolk.

In early December 1760, the Jamaica House of Assembly learned that Queen Akua had returned from exile, having successfully convinced a ship captain to land her at Hanover parish at Cousine’s Cove, which was just over the mountains from the site of the rebels’ barricade. This landing point suggests that she was familiar with the rebels’ plan to occupy the hills between Hanover and Westmoreland and sought to rejoin the fight for an island ruled by the Akan rather than the British. The Queen of Kingston was reportedly at large for a few months before she was captured and immediately executed, becoming one of the very few women to meet such a government-sanctioned death. This means, she likely perished in early to mid-1761 since she was known to return to Jamaica in December 1760 and remained uncaptured for months.

Several acts were passed to address the aftermath of Tacky’s War. Soon after Akua’s return was discovered, the assembly passed an act to “Prevent Any Captain, Master, or Supercargo of Any Vessel Bringing back Slaves Transported off the Island.” Additionally, the Jamaican Stamp Act passed in December of 1760 produced legislation to prevent future rebellions and raised taxes to property. Since the uprisings were most successful at plantations without the owners on site, the legislation also discouraged absentee plantation owners by charging differential tax. Plantation society changed dramatically in the wake of Tacky’s Rebellion as enslaved persons were eventually prevented from carrying arms and the Assembly passed stricter legislation to track slave movements and gatherings.

Online Resources

Elizabeth Osofuah Johnson



Oats, Lynne, Pauline Sadler, and Carlene Wynter. "Taxing Jamaica: the Stamp Act of 1760 & Tacky's Rebellion." ​eJournal of Tax Research  12 (2014): 162-184.


Craton, Michael. Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.


Brown, Vincent. Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2020.


Jada Similton

"Old Cudjoe Making Peace", Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed October 10, 2022, http://slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/810

Key Events


The Leeward Maroons sign a peace treaty with British officials, agreeing to return fugitive slaves and help combat insurrections in exchange for autonomy and officially recognized territory.

April 7, 1760

Tacky’s War begins with rebels from three estates in the northern Jamaican parish of St. Mary’s, taking control of Port Maria, the site of the island’s ammunition.

April 8, 1760

Governor Henry Moore declares martial law and looks to the Leeward and Scott’s Hall Maroons for help quelling the revolt.

April 14, 1760

War leader Tacky is executed by Lieutenant Davy of the Scott’s Hall Maroons.

May 28, 1760

Coinciding with British holiday Whitsun, an uprising rivaling the initial one in St. Mary occurs on Westmoreland.


An Akan war ornament, a wooden sword with a red feather, is found in possession of one of the island’s enslaved people, sparking a wider investigation of war conspiracy on the island.


It is discovered that the Akan people have rallied around a woman named Akua, who they’ve appointed the Queen of Kingston.


Akua is deported on the Norfolk to Spanish Cuba.

December 1760

Akua persuades a captain to drop her off at Cousine’s Cove, near the rebel’s barricade. She supports the insurrection for months.


Akua is captured and executed on site. Exact date unknown.

March 1761

The Stamp Act passed on December 1760 becomes effective, ultimately collecting extra revenue to recover from Tacky’s War and penalizing absentee plantation owners for their negligence.