A Glance in the Past

In 1825, when John Wray established his rum company in Kingston, the town was a bustling seaport and Jamaica’s commercial center. Kingston was also home to one of the most fashionable theatres in the New World – the Theatre Royal – which played host to the English Touring Companies who would stop in Jamaica before going north to Boston and New York.

It was beside the Theatre Royal that John Wray set up the Shakespeare Tavern.  The tavern was located on the northern side of Parade, the main square, which was a popular meeting place for the young, middle-aged and elderly alike. 

The Shakespeare Tavern quickly became a hot spot as Wray was famed for experimenting with the blending of rums, liqueurs and spirits, producing alcoholic mixes that quickly found favour with his patrons. 

In 1860 John Wray took his 22-year-old nephew, Charles James Ward, who was a dynamic and gifted entrepreneur into the business. Two years after, he made Ward his partner establishing the company, J. Wray & Nephew.

Wray retired in 1864 and died in 1867, leaving Ward as the sole proprietor of the business; Ward developed his heritage - a tavern and liquor dealing business - into one of Jamaica’s premier companies.  

When Ward died he left his estate to be administered by trustees, and in 1916 the trustees sold the estate to Lindo Brothers & Co. Ltd who then purchased the Appleton Estate, which had been producing rum since 1749.

Since that time J. Wray & Nephew has changed hands several times ending with this latest acquisition by the Campari Group

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Last updated Jun 26 2018