Trelawny originates out of St. James, which was a large parish on the northwestern coast of Jamaica during the early 18th century.
In the 1730s the wealthy property owners began to demand their own capital, as they complained that Montego Bay, the capital of St, James was too far away for them to conduct business. After several years of lobbying the authorities, Trelawny was finally created in 1770. The new parish was made up of the area from Long Bay running south up to the northern boundary of the Maroon or Accompong Settlement of St. Elizabeth. The decision to form the new parish was not ratified by the British parliament and so commissioners were appointed to run the affairs of the parish in the interim.
The first choice of name for the parish was ‘New Brunswick’ but the decision was taken to name it after the then governor, Sir William Trelawny, who served from 1767-1772.
During this period, sugar was the main economic activity in the parish. Trelawny had the most sugar estates and sugar factories in the country. At one time there were as many as 100 estates and no less than 40 sugar factories. It also had the most slaves with 25,830 listed in 1825. By 1927 the number of estates had fallen to 16, but nonetheless, the parish still produced more sugar than any other parish in the island.