Why Annie Palmer killed her husbands

The proper name of the resort I’m staying at is Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall. Which seems a bit odd since Rose Hall is the name of the old estate across the street where Annie Palmer, known on the island as “The White Witch,” murdered three husbands, kept love slaves chained up in the basement, and was eventually murdered herself by a voodoo doctor who was also one of her slave lovers.

Of course, this all happened some 175 years ago, so maybe people are over it.


I’d been resisting a visit to Rose Hall since duppies (what Jamaicans call ghosts) really aren’t my thing, but it was a dark and windy day yesterday—bad for the beach but perfect for visiting a haunted house.

Why did Annie Palmer kill her husbands at Rose Hall, above? She didn't.

Why did Annie Palmer kill her husbands at Rose Hall, above? She didn't.

I was shown around Rose Hall by a tiny little woman in a faux-plantation outfit (imagine the Hattie McDaniel character in Gone With the Wind) named Latoya. Now, I don’t want to step on any of Latoya’s well-rehearsed lines so I’m just going to basically repeat what she told me as we walked around the old stone house that was originally built between 1770 and 1780. I’m not going to use quotation marks, so just imagine that I’m now letting Latoya write the rest of this blog:

After the death of the original owner, John Palmer, the house eventually ended up in the hands of his grand nephew, John Rose Palmer, in 1818. Two years later he married a 17-year-old woman named Annie who was raised in Haiti by a nanny who taught her voodoo. Annie was nothing but wicked. Shortly after marrying John Rose, she poisoned him, mostly because she liked making love to the slaves on the plantation and her husband wasn’t down with that.

Then she remarried but that guy wasn’t too keen on her makin’ da sexy with the unhired help either, so she had one of her slave lovers take care of the guy. This gave her the time to redecorate the basement into one of the first orgy rooms on the planet, complete with torture equipment, sharp instruments, bear traps, and a round bed. Dis Annie was a kinky girl.

Well, she got married again but soon grew tired of this guy as well. I guess we all know what happened next. But at this point one of her sex slaves decided he just wasn’t that in to her. Most everyone on the plantation was scared shitless of Annie because she knew that Haitian voodoo shit, but this guy knew a little voodoo himself. So they had it out in a Harry Potter sort of way. In the end, they both died.

So the slaves buried her in a stone crypt meant to keep her soul caged up where it couldn’t cause anymore harm. But somebody forgot to say all the proper magical things during the burial ceremony and her soul got out. And now you can find Annie riding around the plantation at night, whip in hand, ready to lash anyone she comes across.

In short, Annie Palmer is one bad-ass bitch.

Okay, Latoya has gone off to escort the next tour group and I’m back. And I hate to spoil Latoya’s story because it really raised goosebumps up and down my spine, but almost none of this is true. According to an archivist for the Jamaica Archives, Annie Palmer was just a simple young woman (unfortunately, she was never trained in voodoo) who, when her husband died seven years after they married, “had no money, no slaves, no real claim to the estate—nothing.”

What? No slaves! Well, okay, according to the records there was an elderly housekeeper, who tried to keep the place up for a couple of years after John Palmer passed away, but Annie Palmer, who couldn’t afford Rose Hall, moved away.

Says the archivist, Geoffrey Yates, Annie Palmer “never married again, had no children, and was not destined to live to a ripe old age.” She died in 1846, at the age of 44, and “was buried in the church yard at Montego Bay. No tombstone has survived to mark the spot.”

Which sort of makes you wonder who’s buried in the massive stone crypt at Rose Hall where the guides like to end their tours by singing that old Jamaican spiritual “Ballad of Annie Palmer.” Which just happens to have been written by that old Jamaican singer/songwriter Johnny Cash.

Still, I have to say, I like Latoya’s version of the story better.

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  1. JD Vehorn’s avatar

    It would really suck to live your life innocently enough & then become known to have been as evil as satan after you die & cannot defend yourself anymore.

  2. Tony’s avatar

    Interesting, my question is how is it they know she poisoned the first husband and she didn’t get arrested or go to jail, had the lover kill number two and once again wasn’t arrested for conspiracy …ah but of course everyone was afraid of the voodoo?
    And with all those lovers back then how she manage “not” to get pregnant?…was she on the pill? or did they use condoms?…lol all sounds suspect to me.
    Don’t get me wrong I have visited this place..today’s folk just read the script that has been drummed into their heads.

  3. Ann Arthurs’s avatar

    Just visited this place today. Although it was very intriguing to walk around an historic property, I was suddenly dumbfounded that any of this legend would be believable. I also got the impression that the tour guides were tickled pink by all the oh’s and ah’s. Glad I took the tour.

  4. Allan’s avatar

    This is all alien to me. When I was a teenager my cousin’s husband was in charge of the development for the Rose Hall estate – the housing development, golf course, etc.

    I was told that Anne was a cruel woman who imprisoned slaves in small cells in the basement and had secret tunnels leading from the house so she could pop up unexpectedly. This lead to the stories that she practiced voodoo. I was also told/read that she married twice which gave her two estates, Rose Hall and one on another island. She then supposedly lost everything in a slave uprising.

    I suppose this is the stuff of historical fame: lots of stories about you which can’t be verified, only embellished for th benefit of tourism and tips.

  5. lil buddy’s avatar

    dude most of this is wrong. she learned voodoo by one of her slaves. and she poisoned 2 out of three of her husbands and to make sure the second was dead she poured hot oil in his ears. and she had the third one strangled by one of her slaves. she did have sex with her slaves but killed them the next day so she knew they wouldnt squeal! and one of her slaves got tired of her shit and strangled her when she was sleeping. get your facts right bro.

  6. LunarLilith’s avatar

    I think someone just got done watching “Ghost Adventures”, LOL. That’s pretty much word for word the story that was given on the show. Too funny!

  7. LunarLilith’s avatar

    O.By the way, that’s in response to the comment left by “Lil Buddy”.

  8. oliva’s avatar

    its not that scary because im a girl who likes scary stuff

  9. McKenzie’s avatar

    You need to get your facts right… she learned voodoo from her slave lover, and those three husbands? One she poisoned, #2 was stabbed repeatedly then to make sure he was dead she poured hot oil down his ears and hubby #3 was strangled by her slave lover who had taught her voodoo and he killed her after he found out she cursed his niece for loving the same slave as her he strangled her in her sleep and she was buried in that infamous crypt with the three crosses carved into the sides she was pure evil do you honestly think that the offical archives would let something so ugly and horrid out to the public?

  10. Susu’s avatar

    I took the tour back in the 70′s and could have sworn one of her husbands/lovers went out one of the bedroom windows too.

  11. Horace Fletcher’s avatar

    I was born and grew up in that part of Jamaica during 1950s-70s. That house was scary, locked up and avoided for years. Nobody would even go near it. Then an American Tycoon named John Rollins came and bought the land (hundreds of acres) and great house with huge plans of development. Nobody else was interested and the Government was intrigued by his interest in the “haunted house”. They were also impressed with his proposed development. He obviously did not believe in duppies and voodoo and paid the locals good money to get over their fears and rebuild the Great house. I visited it for the first time as a teenager in the early 1970′s when it had been recently refurbished. It was very well done. Several years later Mr Rolling apparently did not fulfill all his agreements and the House and land were taken back by the then Government. Mr Rollins was very unhappy and it is believed that he sought help from powerfull Lobbyist in US Congress to reclaim his property. This led to what some believe was sanctions imposed by the Americans and eventually with the change of Jamaican Goverment the land was given back to the Rollins family. There has been development on the property, not sure if this was as much as promised. As for Annie Palmer duppy stories the house does not look anything like what it used to when I was a kid but I doubt if many Jamaicans would be caught there in the dead of night.

  12. david’s avatar

    Wow, great story Horace. Where do you live now?

  13. Rocks’s avatar

    It is quite an interesting story!! I was wondering if anyone would be willing to make a movie about this and I stumbled across one that’s in production! This seems to be the official Facebook fan page…

    Can’t wait lol

  14. Rosie’s avatar

    Ok so I am writing a book an Rose hall and the white witch Annie Palmer is involved in this book . Is all the stories true or just made up ? I am really interested in this an just want to get the right info .. There is so many stories bout her , some how they all seem to tell the same story just different endings .. Was she really a slave owner that ruled with an iron fist that had a sex room that after she was satisfied sexually she would murder her lovers ? Or was she the totally opposite ? An left Rose Hall after her husband died …

  15. sarah’s avatar

    Anytime someone leaves a comment that you don’t like it is never put up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. sarah’s avatar

    I took this tour recently and the Lady that took me through the house name was also Latoya.
    I never heard her use the words that you clame that she did.( unless there is another Latoya).
    I can assure you that Island women do not talk to people who we are not personal with that way. The words that you are saying that the tour guide used is degrading to me. Please take that down because you know that is not what she said.

  17. unknown’s avatar

    i have recently found out that she is my ancestor i think its so strange and weird how i never knew her its so weird to know who your related to from a past and i think its so weird because i know nothing about her apart from what she did and has done xx:)

  18. jewel’s avatar

    i am on a visit their

  19. hannah’s avatar

    i agree with lil buddy thats exactly what she did and one of her slaves did kill her!

  20. soul eater4423’s avatar

    whats up ghost of annie palmer

  21. soul eater4423’s avatar

    i want to visit their soooooooooooo badly i really want to do an investigationshion and see what i get. I want to be just like zack off of ghost adventures!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. anita baker’s avatar

    i wanted to visit there soon that i can see what it is all about it sound scary yes but seeing stuff for your self would slove the story

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