The British left Jamaica with a system of laws of apprenticeship. This was a system of daily labor for one year for every nine years of indentured service. The poor who had little money to pay for this kind of work were given money to pay for their nine years of indenture. During the time between their release and their labor contract, slaves could serve a master in many ways, such as paid work, crafts, production of agricultural goods, and domestic work on the plantations, such as cooking. The true existence of the maroon populations is difficult to verify. British Governor Edward Shortland regarded some of the stories about the Maroon leader's actions as exaggeration, and this may have been a response to the activities of the Moravians missionaries and United Society, free blacks who were trying to strengthen a black presence and to protect the maroon populations.
The Maroons declined in prominence throughout the 17th century, as the Africans began to be sent to the West Indies for plantation labour. The number of Maroons by 1750 had declined by about two-thirds from its peak in 1640. They descended from the earliest African settlers in Jamaica. Their history includes being deported to different parts of the West Indies and being "pardoned" by the British Crown for their rebellion. Under the British, many maroons lived in considerable poverty as adventurers in the mountains, hunting, fishing and herding. Maroon women played an essential role in the economy until they married Africans or Eurasians, creating a new gene pool present in the island.
When the British outlawed slavery, many African slaves tried to avoid being sent to the plantations in the west of the island by fleeing to the mountains. Early reapers who came inland from the ships to cut the cane found clothing and food in the homes of the Maroons and in the hundreds of baskets and bags of the fugitive slaves. Stories indicated that most of the Maroons were the descendants of African slaves left behind to farm their masters’ land and that their numbers grew to a population estimated at 2,500. d2c66b5586