Dehany – Goodin and a plea for help

March 22nd, 2014

 

Firstly let me thank Pamela Miller both for getting in touch and for providing a lot of new information about the Dehany and Goodin families, and for letting me post it here for the benefit of other researchers.

Pamela also has a plea for help in return -Does anyone know the whereabouts, or have a copy of, the Will of George Goodin who died in 1739 ?

Pamela was contacted by someone wanting help which led her back to this website and to query my information which shows David Dehany having married Mary Gregory, information which I know also appears elsewhere.

On the contrary Pamela believes David’s wife was Mary Goodin, the daughter of George Goodin – not Mary Gregory.    George Goodin’s will was challenged by his granddaughter, ”Mrs. Thomas Hall.”  In my records, David and Mary (Gregory) Dehany’s daughter Mary married Thomas Hall.  Pamela’s research by contrast points to Mary Gregory as the wife of George Dehany, the son of David Dehany and Mary Goodin.

She writes, ”I was able to view the microfilm of the original document and took these notes:

Barnett-Hall Collection, MSS 220,

Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD

Box 3 Folder 28 (microfilm)

1763, Case

[Written on the outside/pm]

Geo. Goodwin’s [sic/pm] will. His granddaughter “Molly” Mrs. Thos. Hall For Mr. Amblers Opinion

[Inside/pm]

George Goodin [sic/pm] late of the Island of Jamaica, Esq.r deced was in his Lifetime seized and possessed of a very considerable Real and Property….[made his lawful will..."giving several Legacies" not listed/pm]

He gives and Disposes of the Rest and Residue of his Estate in the following words:

“Item all the rest reside and remainder of my Estate both Real Personal or [mixed?] of what Kind or Nature soever and not herein before disposed of I Give, Devise and Bequeath unto Fife Elletson one of the Sons of my Daughter Sarah Elletson at his Arrival to the Age of Twenty one Years or Day of marriage….[if he dies with no heirs] then I Give the same and every Part thereof to my Daughter Sarah Elletson during her Widowhood. And from and immediately after her Marriage or Death then I Give Devise and Bequeath the same and every Part thereof between my Daughter Mary Dehany’s surviving children To hold to them their Heirs and assigns for ever Part and Share alike.”

[Notes continued/pm]

George Goodin died soon after the making his will.

Fife Elletson died before he arrived his Age of 21 years and without issue.

Sarah Elletson is still living. [1763/pm]

Mrs. Dehany at the Death of Mr. Goodin had the foll.g children

George Dehany…..Living

David Dehany…..Since dead having made his will whereby he devises all his Reversion or Shar which he had or might have in George Goodins the Testators Bequest to his wife Dorothy.

Mary…….The wife of Thos. Hall Esq. Since dead leaving issue

Phillip Dehany……now living

Ann…..The wife of James Herr, Esq. now living.

Goodin Dehany…..Dead — Intestate and without issue.

After the Death of Mr. Goodin ___ Mrs. Dehany had another Son named Hugh who died a Minor and Intestate and without issue.

[The remainder is the merits of the case and decision of Mr. Ambler, 28 Nov. 1763/pm]

The children named as Mary Goodin Dehany’s children in this “Challange” match the names of David Dehany’s children in his 1754 will.

Pamela also wants to highlight that the Barnett Hall collection is now available on-line.

Pamela has documented Mary Goodin in her Cavalier Family Tree which she stresses (as I always do too!) is a work in progress. I sometimes think the genealogist’s work is never done!

Here is back story that Pamela also sent me:

I have researched my ancestors, William Ricketts and his wife Mary Goodwin of Canaan, Westmoreland, Jamaica, for more years than I care to admit to.

There has been much controversy over Mary’s last name….Goodwin or Goodin or Gooden or Gooding….are they variations of the same family name or distinct families?  [As you see in my transcription of the original document above, it seems to be intermingled.  I began researching before documents were commonly transcribed and know that names/words were commonly shortened within the text.  I believe Goodwin was shortened to Good'n in lengthy documents and later interpreted as Goodin...and possibly adopted by some family members....just my opinion.]

My 7-great grandfather, William Ricketts’ will of 1734 names his cousin George Goodin, Esq. of the Island of Jamaica as the executor of his estate there.  Many years ago, I found a transcription of the 1735 will of Col. John Cavalier which contained several names that I knew to be associated with the Ricketts/Goodwin family….including George Goodin.    I built a “Cavalier Family Tree” on Ancestry.com in an attempt to sort out who was who and how were they related.  I was fortunate to find several wills that clearly explain relationships.  They are included in my tree….other information is from other Ancestry.com members and may or may not be accurate….I am careful to cite my sources for others’ reference.

I found the George Goodin mentioned in Col. Cavalier’s will. Col. Cavalier’s niece, Mary Sharp married George Goodin (parents of Mary Goodin Dehany.) But I don’t know if he is the George Goodin mentioned in William Ricketts’ will….there is another George Robert Goodin whose will was written in 1799.  And there is the Major George Robert Goodin who is named as the brother of Judith Goodin who married Edward Barrett. [“The Family of the Barrett” by Jeannette Marks.]

More information about the family comes from the Will of David Dehany, and Pamela has made some comments on this which are given after this abbreviated transcription.

David Dehany, of the parish of Hanover, Island of Jamaica, planter. Will dated 17 Aug. 1753. My son George Dehany, planter, £1000 currency. My son David D. £400 c. yearly. My dau. Mary Hall* £1500 c. My dau. Ann D, £4000 c, My son Goodin D. £100 c. yearly. My wife Mary3  slaves. My son Philip I give that estate joining on the E. side of Lucea Harbour with the estate called Barbican joining on the E. side of Masqueta Cove, with the works, negros, cattle and stock, also 2000 acres at Negercat in the parish of Westmoreland, now a pen, also the houses and stores at Savanna Lamar and Savanna Lamar Savanna, which I bought of Francis Blake as attorney to Richard Dunn Lawrence and of Margaret George, also two parcells of land in Hanover, the one joining on Sir Henry Morgan’s run now in the possession of Julian Beckford, Esq., the other joining on the E. side of Fatthogg quarter Harbour and that part of Sir Henry Morgan’s I possess called Shew. My sister Martha Corbett the 150 acres she lives on joining E. on William Bucknor and W. on Philip Anglin, deceased, for her life, then to go to George James, son to George & Mary James, deceased, and William Wren, son to James and Patian Wren. All residue to my son Philip, if he die without issue all the estate equally to my 3 sons and 2 daus.  My son Philip sole Executor.  My wife Mary,  Philip Haughton, Sr., of Hanover, John Reed and Thomas Hall of the parish of St. James, Esquires, Trustees and Overseers. Witnessed by Gn. Castelfranc, Peter Archibald Jameson, James Findlater. On 22 June 1754 was sworn P. A. Jameson before Charles Knowles. A true Copy. T. Hay, Secretary. Proved 25 Oct.1754 by Philip D. the son. (P.C.C., 271, Pinfold.)

Comment:  Jonathan Haughton (b. 1667, Barbados) is believed to have married Mary Dehany (Parents unknown.)  Jonathan and Mary had a son, Philip Haughton, (1700 to 1765) and a son Richard Haughton (1691 – 1740.)  Richard Haughton married Elizabeth Goodin (1700 – 1734) the daughter of George Goodin and Mary Sharpe.  (See Col. John Cavalier’s will)  Elizabeth Goodin was the sister of Mary Goodin (1702 – 1761) who married David Dehany.  Elizabeth Goodin and Richard Haughton’s daughter Mary Haughton married John Reid in 1734 per Archer.  Mary Dehany, Daughter of David Dehaney married Thomas Hall./pm

(/pm=Pamela Miller)

Once again, many thanks to Pamela for sharing all her hard work.

The Allen Family of Glasgow & Inchmartine

January 21st, 2014

Fortiter-Henry Howard Allen

Arms granted to John Allen in 1779 and matriculated to Henry Howard Allen in 1878
(Crown Copyright) Courtesy of Jonathan Allan

It has been some time since I last uploaded a family tree, and last week I added an extended and updated version of the Allen family of Glasgow, whose details can also be found along with the associated Scott, Dehany, Gregory and Welch families.

I revisited the Allens following a query I received, and it occurred to me that they provide a good model of what happens to a particular kind of middle class merchant and professional family during the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Looking at them may provide clues if you are researching a similar family of your own.

John Allen, who was the business partner and close friend of Robert Cooper Lee, came from a Glasgow merchant family and probably went to Jamaica about 1750 or thereabouts, like so many young men in search of fortune. Lucky enough to survive the unhealthy conditions there, he returned to Britain with his wife Favell Dehany in the 1770s, and two sons were born to them in London. John Allen was godfather to Robert Cooper Lee’s son Matthew Allen Lee while in Jamaica, and Robert Cooper Lee and his wife Priscilla named their last child Favell after John Allen’s wife. John Allen’s first son was named John Lee Allen.

The_Allen_Brothers sized 256

There is a delightful portrait of this boy with his younger brother James, painted in the 1790s by Henry Raeburn and now housed in the Kembell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas (source: Wikimedia Commons).

John Allen suffered badly from asthma and in January 1795 Margaret Grant, a mutual friend, wrote to the Lee family:

With the deepest concern I take up my pen to inform you, that our dear friend Mr Allen is no more.  They returned from a short excursion they had made to Glasgow on Saturday last; that night he was seized with a severe attack of the Astmah which though alleviated by medical aid did not yield to it and joined to some internal malady, which the force of medicine, or human skill could not reach, at ¼ past eleven yesterday morning proved fatal.

His disconsolate Widow and her dear Boys are with me, she wonderfully calm and collected under her severe loss, the more so as so unexpected, at least by her.  May the Almighty support and protect her and her Boys.  [A Parcel of Ribbons, p.318]

The family were left very well off, for John Allen had bought the Inchmartine and Errol estates in Perthshire on his return from Jamaica. Sadly the house that John Allen knew was destroyed by fire in 1874 and the current Errol Park dates from 1875-7. John Lee Allen worked to improve the estate.

The farm-buildings have been much improved, and draining has been carried to a considerable extent; embankments have been also constructed for protecting the low lands from the inundations of the Tay. The principal of these was completed by Mr. Allen in 1836, when about 100 acres were reclaimed from the river, now forming some of the richest land on his estate; the embankment is forty feet wide at the base, and two feet on the summit, and is eleven feet high; the lower portion of the bank, to the height of four feet, consists of a wall of dry stones, and the upper of earth and reeds intermixed with stones. A second embankment has been more recently constructed by Captain Allen, R.N., on a similar plan, to the east of Port-Allen, and of greater extent than the former to the west of the port; and in process of time, by continuing these embankments, a very large portion of most valuable land will be added to the farms contiguous to the river.  (source: http://perthshire.blogspot.co.uk/2007/12/errol-perthshire-scotland.html)

Two of John Lee Allen’s sons went into the Royal Navy and the youngest appears to have migrated to Canada. The nineteenth century saw many families bidding farewell to members who sought fortune overseas, but now instead of the West Indies eyes turned either to India or to the new colonies in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

John Lee Allen’s brother James, who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the 23rd Lancers, married the daughter of a Colonel in the East India Company. It was their son Henry Howard Allen who completed the matriculation of the family coat of Arms, and who by then was resident in England at least as much as in Scotland. His eldest brother James Vaughan Allen had died young, in Brussels of cholera, leaving a young widow Barbara Elrington Douglas who married twice more, but separated from her third husband possibly because she blamed him for the death of her epileptic son following an argument with his step father. She settled in Norway where she led a very interesting life farming, writing books and cohabiting with a translator called Oluf Endresen. However towards the end of the nineteenth century the money that paid her annuity from the Inchmartine estate was running out and sadly she ended her life in poverty.

The line from James Allen dies out by the end of the nineteenth century, with all his descendants either unmarried or childless, but the descendants of John Lee Allen were more numerous and by the late nineteenth century he had grandchildren and great grandchildren in Australia, where three of the children of Commander Henry Murray Edward Allen had settled.

The pattern of descent and settlement from John Allen and his Jamaican wife Favell Dehany shows many features common to similar families of the period. First successful colonists return home from Jamaica and invest their acquired wealth in their mother country, often with property in several places. Their sons have careers in the Army or Navy and marry well, into upper class or aristocratic families. Some of their children die young (but not nearly as many as in previous centuries) and some do not marry or are childless. A few carry on the family line, but seek to make their fortunes in the newly developing colonies and eventually settle there.

My mother’s family followed a similar pattern with sons in the Indian Army and Indian Army medical Corps during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, then others who tried for new lives in America and South Africa before settling in Australia and New Zealand. Such migration was often driven by the need to provide for the larger families resulting from reduced infant mortality, and from periods of agricultural depression in the UK.

So if you cannot find your family members where you expect them to be, look away from their geographical origins. If you are searching online widen your search terms to include other geographical areas. Look at records from India held by the British Library, check passenger lists for ships travelling between Britain and her expanding Empire, above all do not be surprised by the degree of geographical mobility of our ancestors.

The Allen family, who began as Glasgow merchants, had members who made a fortune in the West Indies; they settled in Canada, Norway, Australia and New Zealand, and have descendants still in the UK today.

Jamaican Christmas & John Canoe

December 24th, 2013

 

 

John Canoe 1 resized 350

Christmas in Jamaica before emancipation was one of the few periods in the year when slaves were able to enjoy themselves, free for a brief period from work. If they were lucky they received extra rations of food and possibly cloth or clothing for the coming year, as was the custom for servants in England.

There were John Canoe processions, (variously written as Johnny Canoe, Junkanoo and Koo Koo, possibly from the French l’inconnu – the unknown- or perhaps of West African derivation) which are the origins of the modern carnival. The two pictures shown here, painted by the artist Belisario and published in 1837, represent the actors who were competing for their costume and group of friends to be picked to lead the festivities. By this time the costumes were more elaborate, and less fearsome, than those described half a century earlier by Edward Long.

Long, whose History of Jamaica was published in 1774, wrote that

In the towns, during Christmas holidays, they have several tall robust fellows dressed up in grotesque habits, and a pair of ox-horns on their head, sprouting from the top of a horrid sort of vizor, or mask, which about the mouth is rendered very terrific with large boar tusks. The masquerader, carrying a wooden sword in his hand, is followed with a numerous crowd of drunken women, who refresh him frequently with a sup of aniseed water, whilst he dances at every door, bellowing out John Connu! with great vehemence…this dance is probably an honourable memorial of John Conny, a celebrated cabocero at Tres Puntas, in Axim, on the Guiney coast; who flourished about the year 1720.

 

John Canoe 2 resized 350

There were also more local celebrations. On Christmas Eve 1812 the Moravian missionary John Becker wrote, Scarcely was our worship closed, before the heathen negroes on the estate began to beat their drums, to dance, and to sing, in a most outrageous manner. The noise lasted all night, and prevented us from falling asleep.

The following day he wrote: After breakfast, I went down and begged the negroes to desist, but their answer was:’What, Massa, are we not to dance and make merry at Christmas. We always did so. ‘ I represented to them that this was not the way to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. and expressed my surprise, that having heard the word of God for so many years, they still continued their heathenish customs. But all I could say was in vain… (quoted in Braithwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, pp.227-8).

In England, since medieval times, masters had allowed their servants licence over the Christmas period to let off steam.There can be little doubt that the Christmas festivities for the slaves in Jamaica performed a similar function – the one time in the year when they were free to enjoy themselves as they chose, to sing and dance and eat, and for a brief period perhaps forget their situation.

Mistletoe resized 250

For those of you spending part of your Christmas holiday on family history research, you may like to know that the invaluable Jamaican Family Search website is now entirely free to use. Patricia Jackson, who set up the site fourteen years ago had always hoped to be able to make it free. Recently she wrote, ”Those who have paid subscriptions in the past enabled me to purchase microfilms, microfiche, electronic images, or photocopies of documents and registers, not only from Jamaica but from archives or libraries in England and the United States. I spent thousands of hours transcribing information from them to put on the site, often working up to 50 hours a week (so much for a part-time job!).” If you have not already discovered her site I can warmly recommend it.

Also free and with many useful articles and website lists is Genealogy In Time Magazine. This site helps to fund itself by receiving small fees from Amazon if you click through from the links on their home page to purchase something on any one of the main Amazon sites. A recent article addresses the question of just how popular is genealogy and examines the statistics comparing internet traffic to the most popular sites and distinguishing between the occasional researcher and those of us who become obsessive!

However you choose to spend the Christmas period, may I thank all of you who have been in touch or have bought my book, and wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

 

Snails and Serendipity

November 30th, 2013

Snail Milk Water

 

So much of extending my historical knowledge has depended on serendipity.

This week I was in London for a meeting and hoping to be able to visit the Tate afterwards. However the meeting over-ran and, because it was closer to St Pancras where I catch my train, I went instead to the Georgians Revealed Exhibition at the British Library. It is full of fascinating images and objects demonstrating the way in which the Georgians shaped modern Britain. One of the highlights for me was the huge map of Georgian London making up the floor of the final room of the exhibition. I can spend hours looking at maps – and often do!

Afterwards I browsed through the books and souvenir objects for sale, which included among the usual mugs and posters a complete high head white wig for those wishing to dress the part! And among the books I came across a small volume that looked interesting, containing Georgian household cures and remedies.

And here I discovered a Jamaican connection, for the original book had come down through the Biscoe and Tyndale-Biscoe families to its present custodian Nicola Lillie. Some readers may remember the story I told not long after starting this website of the court case involving Joseph Biscoe and his runaway wife Susanna.

Joseph Biscoe’s aunt by marriage, Elizabeth Ambler (Mrs Elisha Biscoe) was the original owner of the ‘Physick Book’ in which she, her friends and later generations recorded their recipes for various potions for easing or curing everything from the bite of a mad dog to fits, bladder stones, gout, coughs and indigestion. Marilyn Yurdan worked with the author to provide the medical historical background, and although some recipes would be fairly easy to make now, it really is a case of ‘Don’t try this at home’ when you encounter Nurse Payne’s Receipt for a Sore Throat in the Small Pox containing rock alum and white dog turd! Given that as little as one ounce of alum can kill an adult (not to mention the dog turd), this is not one to copy.

Nor are we likely to want to make use of woodlice, earthworms and snails, all of which were favourite eighteenth century ingredients.

More benign is a recipe to make Lavender Water by simmering lavender flowers in cider; and a Tincture for Gout and Colick in Stomach was made using raisins, rhubarb, senna, coriander, fennel, cochineal, saffron and liquorish infused in brandy. My guess is that the rhubarb and senna would have made it effective for constipation if not for gout. Increased prosperity in the eighteenth century leading to a diet rich in red meat and other high protein items such as turtle, taken together with rich red wines, made gout the classic Georgian complaint.

Besides reproducing the recipes, the book explains what the various ingredients were – how many of us now would recognise Burgundy Pitch, mithridate or Balsam of Tolu? even if we could safely identify coltsfoot, ox-eye daisies or camomile. To take us through these forgotten ingredients each recipe has its own glossary and an explanation of its intended use or the problem it was intended to ease.

It is also a beautifully produced little book with a short, illustrated history of the Ambler Biscoe family and woodcut illustrations of the various herbs and other ingredients.

Although the eighteenth century family name was Biscoe, in the mid-nineteenth century it became Tyndale-Biscoe (after the Biscoe name had been lost for a time through a female line of descent) and some readers may know the lovely Historic Jamaica from the Air by David Buisseret, in which the photographs were taken by Jack Tyndale-Biscoe.

There is a large bequest of papers, maps, documents and photographs relating to Jamaica made by Jack Tyndale-Biscoe and his wife in the Jamaica Archives in Spanish Town – you can read the details of what was donated in Kenneth E. Ingram’s University of the West Indies publication Manuscript Sources for the West Indies. The collection also includes genealogical information on the Morrison, Duff and Dallas families of Jamaica and the Branch and deFreitas families of St Lucia.

In addition to their connection with Jamaica, the eighteenth century Biscoe family also owned plantations on St Kitts. There are records for the slave ownership of Stephana and William Biscoe (widow and son of Joseph Biscoe) in Jamaica on the Legacies of British Slave-ownership website.

Not for the first time I have been impressed by just how intertwined was the history of Jamaica with the huge changes that went on throughout the eighteenth century.

Lavender Water & Snail Syrup: Miss Ambler’s Household Book of Georgian Cures and Remedies, Nicola Lille & Marilyn Yurdan with illustrations by Laura Lillie, The History Press, Stroud, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7524-8995-7

A Year in Jamaica – Book Review

November 2nd, 2013

A Year in Jamaica resized 350

 

For anyone with an interest in Jamaica and its history this enchanting memoir is a must read, and a great Christmas present.

Diana Lewes was the pen name of Elizabeth Anesta Sewell whose grandfather William Sewell went to Jamaica shortly after the abolition of slavery, and profiting from the general view that Abolition had ruined the plantations, bought up a number of estates including some that had belonged to the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. William’s partner married his daughter but died childless so that the legacy William had to leave at his death was a very valuable one. However, knowing that his son Henry was a spendthrift, William left his estate in trust to his five grandchildren, of whom ‘Diana’ was one.

In 1889 sixteen year old Diana, her older sister Beattie and their parents went out to Jamaica to live on Arcadia, while their brother Philip was sent to learn the business on the Oxford estate. The memoir, written over a period of years, has some fictionalised elements, partly perhaps to conceal the fact that Diana’s father embezzled part of his children’s inheritance. In the book this crime is committed by the attorney, which certainly fits with much of Jamaica’s history of dishonest estate management.

The year Diana spent in Jamaica was one not only of learning about a new country and its customs, but also one of growing up, of attending parties and of being forced by her father to promise never to marry. Her descriptions of a sugar estate in the late nineteenth century differ from the eighteenth mainly in the increased use of machinery and the relative freedom of the black workers. We are left in no doubt however about the different standing of various white neighbours, the black house servants, who wear white, and the other workers who still wear mainly the osnaburg of their slave ancestors.

She describes the house on the Oxford estate.  ”Like many of the old fashioned Jamaican houses, it was built a storey above ground. Underneath were storerooms and servants’ sleeping quarters. Above these, approached only by two flights of steps, was the main part of the building and, crwning all, was a wide sloping hurricane roof.” At Oxford Diana learned that it was important to know the working cattle by name to ensure that none was worked two days running, “no steer, fed as these are, can stand being worked every day”. Diana learned to recognise all her brother’s cattle and on one occasion spotted one that had been out the previous day. The other drivers shouted with laughter that their colleague had been caught out by a young white girl.

On another occasion Diana was asked to count the canes in the cane bundles, as some workers would try to cheat by having too few in each bundle. She picked a bundle made up by Alexandra, a black woman who Diana comes to realise is the attorney’s mistress, and her intuition is proved right when the bundle is short. The ambiguities and nuances of post slavery, colonial Jamaica are very clearly brought out in descriptions of entertainments, riding parties and an encounter with a family of poor whites who have been evicted from their property.

There are moments of high drama too when they are riding back from a neighbouring property and are charged by a herd of cattle, or when the cattle are being counted and two huge bulls start to fight while Diana is trapped and only rescued by the black overseer. There is the night Diana spends alone with a large bag containing the estate money wondering if she will be attacked and murdered for it.

There are descriptions of lavish meals, melon, turtle, turtles eggs, yam, sweet potatoes, cho-chos, peahen, fried plantain, avocado pears and coconut pudding, but an underlying sense of the struggle Diana’s mother faces to maintain a style of life she had known as a young bride a quarter of a century earlier. When a careless servant spills water on the highly polished mahogany floor, she is equally careless about mopping it up, and there is the strong sense of a colonial way of life slipping away.

There are wonderful descriptions of the Jamaican landscape and vivid character sketches of the people who lived there. It is no wonder that when Diana’s nephew discovered the manuscripts of her memoirs after her death that he wanted to be able to publish them.

They richly deserve to find a wider audience and to stand alongside Lady Nugent’s earlier descriptions of Jamaica which convey the impressions of a sympathetic outsider and help the reader to understand how Jamaica has evolved.

 

A Year in Jamaica: Memoirs of a Girl in Arcadia in 1889, Diana Lewes, Eland Publishing Ltd, London, 2013. ISBN 978 1 906011 83 3 cover price £16.99

Sugar loaves and coal scuttles

October 12th, 2013

 

JMW_Turner Coal_Boats_Loading,_North_Shields_-_Google_Art_Project

Coal boats loading at North Shields c.1795 - J M W Turner  (via Wikimedia Commons)

 

It’s that time of year when preserving garden produce for the winter is on my mind. It’s been a fantastic year for fruit in the UK and there is a glut of apples and pears, we’ve had a huge crop of blackberries and the wild rowan trees are covered in berries.

Checking the cupboard for sugar to make crab apple and blackberry jelly I found some left from last year that had hardened in the packet and that made me think of the labour involved in preparing sugar for use in the eighteenth century. Once the cane was cut and the juice boiled and crystalised most was packed into barrels for transport to Europe and further processing there. Only a small amount was ‘clayed’, further refined into white sugar loaves, in Jamaica. This was to protect the interests of the sugar bakers in Britain.

Either way the sugar bought by the eighteenth century housewife came in hard loaves from which the sugar had to be rasped or broken off and then pounded to the consistency required. Imagine taking a bag of modern sugar crystals and pounding it down to produce your own icing sugar and you will get an idea of the sheer physical labour involved and the time it took.

Then remember that to cook using your sugar you would have to light and tend your kitchen fire. By the eighteenth century London was dependent on imported coal as the medieval forests that once covered the country had been cut down for domestic fuel and for early industry. You would have ordered your coal using the old measure of a ‘chaldron of coals’, an amount which could vary from about 2000 pounds weight upwards. A London chaldron was defined as “36 bushels heaped up, each bushel to contain a Winchester bushel and one quart, and to be 1912 inches in diameter” (source:Wikipedia). The weight of this was about 3136 pounds so it was no wonder that a limit was put on the amount that could be drawn in one wagon – incidentally to protect the road from excessive wear rather than the horses from exhaustion!

When the coal was delivered to your house you would have to inspect it to make sure the merchant was not cheating you by including poor quality coal, wet coal or a load full of small dust called ‘slack’. It would be shovelled by hand from the wagon into your cellar or shed and from there you or your servants would have to scoop it up into the coal scuttles for use in kitchen and living rooms. Little wonder that only the well to do had fires in their bedrooms in even the coldest of weather.

Everything that happened in the eighteenth century household involved physical labour on the part of the householder or the servants. Preparing meals meant walking to market for the ingredients, scrubbing and preparing the vegetables, plucking the poultry, rendering your own fat from pork or beef to produce dripping, beating the eggs and ingredients for cakes (my grandmother beat fat and sugar for an eggless sponge by hand – that is using her own hand not a beater, the beating took up to half an hour but she made a superbly light sponge!). Even so simple an act as writing a letter might still involve mixing your own ink, and would require you to cut your own quills – paper you could at least buy ready made.

Leaving aside the digital revolution, think of any task you now undertake and then take yourself back to a time when there was no electricity, and virtually no machinery to assist. You could buy the cloth and thread for your clothes, but you or someone else would have to make the pattern, cut the cloth and sew them by hand. When they got dirty they would have to be washed by hand using soap you made yourself, although in London the air was now so filled with soot that those who could afford it sent their linen out of town to washer women in the outlying villages. If the weather was cold the water might freeze in the pump and in any case it would all have to be carried by hand to where it was needed.

In eighteenth century Jamaica the source of cheap labour that made all this possible was of course enslaved, while London and the growing cities such as Manchester and Birmingham were sucking in labour from the surrounding countryside. The nineteenth century would see a huge change with a move from human to machine power and a gradual increase in the cost of labour, with a corresponding decrease in the relative cost of machine power. We are much closer to this nineteenth century world than we are to that of the eighteenth.

So next time you put sugar in your coffee, boil a kettle, load the washing machine, cut the lawn or drive to the supermarket to load up with ready prepared goods, just pause for a moment and imagine having to do all these tasks the eighteenth century way.

The Jamaican Diaspora

September 28th, 2013

 

landing-1820-settlers-1820settlers

 

British settlers landing at the Cape Colony

 

There was of course a huge Jamaican diaspora in the second half of the twentieth century. After the second World War the Windrush generation left the Caribbean in large numbers to work in Britain, in the USA and Canada. Many ended up remaining and making new homes rather than returning.

However, there is a sense in which there has always been a Jamaican diaspora, if it is defined as people born in Jamaica leaving for what was perceived as a better life elsewhere.

I was reminded of this when I came across the name Hercules Ross this week. I have written briefly before about the family of Hercules Ross of Rossie, who made his fortune in Jamaica as a merchant and who had two families. Like so many young white men, while in Jamaica he had a stable relationship outside marriage with a mixed race woman, Elizabeth Foord, with whom he had seven children five of whom survived to adulthood.

Ross, who was one of thirteen children of an impoverished excise man, went to Jamaica about 1760 to work as a naval clerk, became owner of a general merchant’s store and two trading sloops, captain of militia, ADC to a Major General, JP for Kingston and was owner of the 200 acre Bushy Park estate. The young Horatio Nelson was nursed back to health from a fever at Bushy Park. During the War with America from 1775 Ross became Prize Agent for Jamaica taking a cut of the prize money for captured vessels, and running his own privateers. He left Jamaica in 1782 and bought the Rossie estate in Scotland in 1785 for £33,250. Like a number of such men he then married. Harriet Parish was the daughter of a wealthy Scots Hamburg merchant and they had four legitimate children.

However he provided well for his three Jamaican sons and two daughters who came to Britain with him. The daughters became school teachers and his sons had positions in the East India Company. Best known was Daniel Ross, who was one of the two or three greatest hydrographic surveyors of the 19th century and has been called ‘the father of the Indian surveys’. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1822. He died in Bombay, and his obituary was published in the Straits Times dated 18 December 1849.

Of his brother David nothing seems to be known, and it is a common name which makes him harder to trace. Their brother Hercules Ross is believed to have been murdered by pirates, along with his wife, in the East Indies in 1810.

What prompted me to write this piece was encountering a reference to a young Hercules Ross who was Secretary to General Craig in the Cape Colony, on the very respectable salary of £1500 a year, in about 1798. He was referred to by Lady Anne Barnard in one of her letters to Henry Dundas, later Lord Melville, written between 1797 and 1801 and published in book form a century later. It is not certain that he was the same Hercules Ross as the son of Elizabeth Foord, but it is quite likely.

As the nineteeth century began the British Empire was expanding rapidly. No longer did young men seek their fortunes planting sugar in Jamaica, but their descendants, particularly their mixed race sons, often looked to the newly expanding colonies to make their fortunes. Parental influence could get them a place in the East India Company or the Indian Army, or a place in the colonial civil service. Moreover it may be that for those whose mixed race was more obvious it was easier to make a name abroad than at home.

And so a generation born in Jamaica spread out across the world in the first wave of the Jamaican diaspora.

 

Education at Home and Abroad

September 7th, 2013

Steen_schoolmaster resized 450

 Jan Steen (1625/1626–1679)  via Wikimedia Commons

Much has been written about the failure of Jamaica to establish a self-sufficient and expanding white colony during the eighteenth century by comparison with the success of the rest of the North American colonies. The appalling death rates from yellow fever, malaria, smallpox and other diseases meant that it was difficult for those young men (and it was mainly men) who arrived seeking to make their fortunes to get a permanent toe hold. Even if they survived long enough to marry, and there were too few white women available for them all, their children also died in great numbers.

However there is another reason why those colonist families that did begin to become established did not remain on the island, which has perhaps received less attention than it deserves. Jamaica failed to establish a really good education system and did not found a university.

This meant that the colonists sent their children back home not just for their health, but to be educated, and once there, experiencing the wider world of eighteenth century Europe, and with the apparently limitless resources provided by the parental plantations at their disposal, they lacked the incentive to return to Jamaica. Many preferred to buy their way into the landed upper middle classes, build grand houses, and participate in Jamaican interests at a distance through the West India lobby or involvement in the building of the West India Docks.

Elsewhere in North America Harvard University was begun in 1636, William and Mary College in 1693 and Yale University in 1701, but there was no parallel development in Jamaica.

There were some early attempts to establish schooling on the island. In 1695 An Act for erecting and establishing a free-school in the Parish of St Andrew was passed, along with other Acts relating to island defence. Subsequent Acts of the Assembly were more concerned with ensuring the rights of minors, defending the island, building roads and bridges, and trying to encourage further white migration than with educating those who were already there. The incentive to provide schools for their own children was also reduced among families for whom the employment of a private tutor (if you could persuade one to come) was the norm.

When William May arrived in Jamaica as a young clergyman, he wrote home to his bishop in far from flattering terms about the early colonists, and in the case of Jonathan Gale and his son Colonel Gale he marked them both as ‘illiterate’, as he said was the father of John and Samuel Moore. There were some Jamaican schoolmasters mentioned by William May – the fathers of both Colonel Peak and Colonel Sadler were said by May to have been teachers, but their sons preferred to make money from their plantations rather than seek an academic career.

You can find the full text of May’s letter in Caribbeana – he clearly had a very poor opinion of his parishioners! But many of the very early settlers probably had little use for more than basic literacy, being concerned to carve out their estates from virgin territory. On the other hand the merchants who imported the goods they needed and who traded their produce for them had to be well enough educated to keep good records, as did the attorneys who managed their legal affairs. But like so much of their food, tools and luxury goods these skills were generally imported by the settlers rather than being home grown.

On the 3rd of February, 1730, Peter Beckford, another man of whom William May held a low opinion, and who died five years later worth over £300,000, gave £2000 ”for a school and poor housekeepers”. However, there appears to have been was no real concerted effort to establish good quality schools during the eighteenth century and it became the norm for children, both boys and girls, to be sent to England for their education. The two Moore brothers mentioned above matriculated at Wadham College Oxford in 1700 and 1702, with Samuel going on to register at the Inner Temple.

Both John and Samuel Moore returned to Jamaica after their time at university, but as the century progressed it became more and more common for those who had made their fortunes in Jamaica to relocate to Britain and seek a place in British society. If Jamaica had had good schools and a centre of learning sufficient to attract students from elsewhere in the Caribbean, it is possible more young men would have remained on the island.

 

 

Some things in life are free

August 17th, 2013

dau of John Lee 1749

Example from the register of St Catherine’s parish taken from FamilySearch.org, showing the baptism of a daughter to John Lee (brother of Robert Cooper Lee) and Mary Lord. It also shows the baptism of a legitimate child, the ‘bastard’ son of Robert Taylor, records the ‘mulatto’ status of the Clifford children and shows two adult baptisms.

One of the wonderful things about genealogical research is the willingness of so many people to share what they know, to help you find records you are looking for, and to make information available to everyone without charge. There are volunteers working all over the world to read and transcribe vital records, and other material, and to put it on-line.

Assuming you have access to a computer (or you would not be reading this!) you have a vast volume of information to draw on that could not have been imagined by our predecessors who had to work by visiting their local parish church, writing to the vicar of a parish they thought their ancestor might have come from, or requesting documents from their local county record office in the hope that they would find something useful. All these avenues are still available, and are often very useful, but working from home, or in your local library (which may also have a subscription to some of the paid genealogy sites such as Ancestry) there are many records available to you for free.

The first site I ever used, and one of the very first to put records onto the internet, was familysearch.org . To quote from them directly:

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years.

The site has recently had a makeover and increasingly hosts a much wider variety of records than the baptisms and marriages of the original IGI (International Genealogical Index). In addition to transcribed indexes they now also include images from parish registers, and burials and census records are gradually being added. For Jamaica’s early parish registers, baptisms are now indexed but for the present to access older marriages and burials you must still use the images of the original handwritten indexes and then find the corresponding register page.

Transcribing Jamaican records presents particular problems, not just of difficult handwriting, but because of the complex state of relationships and colour status so it is always worth trying different combinations of parent names and different spellings. Apart from those who had no choice in coming to Jamaica from Africa, there were many arrivals from other parts of the world and as IGI widens its geographic spread you may now be able to find your ancestors who came from places other than Great Britain. You may also find ancestors who left Jamaica for the USA, Canada and other countries.

Recently completed indexing projects that will shortly be available on line include the following:

  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Bergamo—Nati, 1875-1894 [Part 2C]
  • U.S.—1900 Census
  • Magyarország, Szabolcs—polgári anyakönyvi adatok, 1895–1978 [3. Rész]
  • U.S. (Community Project), New York—New York Passenger Lists, 1942–1957 [Part J]
  • Belgium, Limburg, Lommel—Civil Registration, 1891–1910 [Part 2]
  • U.S. (Community Project), New York, New York—Passenger Lists, 1942–1957 [Part F]
  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Cremona—Nati, 1875–1902 [Part 2B]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Illinois—Northern District Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 [Part D]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Illinois—Northern District Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 [Part C]
  • U.S., Virginia, Richmond—Birth Index, 1870–1912
  • U.S., Florida—County Marriages, 1830–1957 [Part D]
  • U.S., Massachusetts, Plymouth County–Probate Index, 1881–1939
  • Sverige, Stockholm stad—Register til kyrkoböcker, 1546–1927
  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Udine—Nati, 1875–1901 [Parte 2B]
  • Russland, Sankt Petersburg—Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1833–1885 [Teil A]
  • U.S., Georgia—Deaths, 1931–1940 [Part A]
  • Canada, New Brunswick—Provincial Marriages, 1789–1950 [Part A]
  • U.S., Georgia—Deaths, 1931–1940 [Part B]
  • Brasil, Rio de Janeiro—Cartões de Imigração, 1900–1965 [Parte 3DD]
  • Jamaica—Civil Marriages and Deaths, 1871–1995 [Part B]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Illinois—Northern District Naturalization Index, 1926–1979 [Part A]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Rhode Island—Naturalization Index of the District Courts, 1906–1991
  • U.S., Tennessee—Deaths, 1956–1961
  • U.S., California—County Marriages 1850–1952 [Part D]
  • El Salvador—Registros Civiles 1836–1910 [Part B]
  • U.S., Kentucky—Death Certificates, 1956–1961
  • Brasil, Rio de Janeiro—Cartões de Imigração, 1900–1965 [Parte 3EE]
  • U.S. (Community Project), Connecticut—Naturalization Indexes from the District Court, 1851–1992
  • U.S. (Community Project), New York—Passenger Lists, 1942–1957 [Part K]
  • U.S.—Applications for Headstones for Veterans, 1941–1949
  • Italia (Antenati Italiani), Bergamo—Nati, 1875-1894 [Part 2B]
  • México, Coahuila, Matamoros y Torreón registros Iglesia Católica, 1870-1966
  • Deutschland, Mecklenburg-Schwerin—1867 Volkszählung [Teil C]
  • U.S., Alabama—County Marriages, 1809–1950 [Part D]
  • Nederland, Zuid-Holland, Leiden—Burgelijke Stand, Geboorten, 1870–1882
  • U.S., Arkansas—WWII , First Draft Registration Cards, 1940–1945 [Part C]
  • Danmark—Borgerlige Ægteskabsbøger, 1923–1961

Good hunting!

Postal services then and now

August 3rd, 2013

The_Mail_Coach_in_a_Drift_of_Snow_-_James_Pollard (1)

Mail Coach in a Drift of Snow by James Pollard

Much of the last month has been spent on research for my next project, a biography only obliquely related to Jamaica. It included a week spent at the wonderful National Archives at Kew doing research the old fashioned way by handling actual documents. Even then modern technology comes to our aid, and I and most others there were using pocket digital cameras to photograph documents rather than having to sit and make laborious, detailed notes and transcriptions. Moreover having got the images home I can blow up difficult to read handwriting in a way that you can’t with the real thing.

So much has changed for historical research in a digital age with huge commercial genealogical websites, the pioneering IGI (now given a facelift and including lots of new data) and even local county record offices are putting much of their material on-line saving the researcher in time and travel costs, not to mention the ease with which material can be found when it has been indexed on computer.

Nevertheless sometimes one has to rely on the postal services either to receive photocopied material, or as several weeks ago, to pay by dollar cheque for material sent from an American University. They were kind enough to send the material first and invoice afterwards. Because they had no facility for paying on-line, I then had to visit my local bank and obtain a dollar cheque (for which they charged an arm and a leg!) which I then posted by registered airmail.

Here the saga began since six weeks later it has still not arrived and I have had to arrange a wired payment instead and now wait to hear if the Post Office will refund the value of the missing cheque, plus bank charges and postal costs.

It made me think once more how impressive in fact were the eighteenth century postal services. On a fast passage by packet boat letters from London might reach Jamaica in the time it has taken for my letter to fail to arrive in America! Moreover, many of the papers I have been looking at in the National Archives are letters sent within England which are dated and have a postmark demonstrating that they arrived just as quickly as a modern letter – and sometimes faster!

From the mid-eighteenth century houses in most British towns began to have numbers to help the postboy deliver to the correct address, as the quantity of letters handled by the mail increased. In 1760 the Post Office revenues were taken over from the Crown and merged with general revenue and the Post Office took over direct management of the Inland Post, Foreign Letter Post, the Penny Post and the Bye and Cross Roads Letter Post.

There were problems in relation to political influence, for example the contract for the provision of packet boats to places such as Jamaica was often held by an MP whose support might be required by the government, regardless of how efficiently he managed the contract. Members of both Houses of Parliament were allowed to send letters, packets and newspapers post free and often provided a ‘frank’ to others with a consequent loss to the revenue. Those who could not afford the penny post, payable on delivery, would send a letter with a code on the address to indicate that they were well and the letter could then be refused by the recipient who had in fact received the intended message.

In 1784 the first Mail Coaches replaced post boys on horseback and there were experiments in Ireland with a new kind of mail cart probably similar to those still in use in the early 20th century. There were however still problems with the quality of the roads, and as the picture above shows, severe weather could delay the mail.

For international mail, wars and weather could take their toll and it was common practice to send important letters in more than one copy by separate boats, as I discovered when preparing the Lee letters for publication in A Parcel of Ribbons. Shipwreck could also result in the loss of correspondence as for example in December 1768 when a box addressed to Joseph Lee, then visiting London from Jamaica, was washed up along with some Jamaican mahogany on the Cornish coast following a winter storm.

It would be interesting to compare the time it now takes to send a parcel by surface mail from England to America or Jamaica relative to the eighteenth century times. Of course air mail makes all the difference now – when it works!