Tag Archives: plantation

A Parcel of Ribbons – The Book – Now available

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Available in perfect bound paperback 6″ x 9″ – 374 pages with illustrations.

ISBN: 9781105809743

When I set up this website it was with the aim of sharing material I had come across during research into my family history. In particular I was looking for the origin of the story that in my mother’s family there had been an ‘Indian Princess’.

It may seem a long way from an Indian Princess to Jamaica but the trail that led me there was illuminated by the discovery of a wonderful collection of family letters.

I can now share these and the story of the remarkable Lee family with you. I do hope you enjoy their story as much as I have enjoyed writing about it.

Augier or Hosier – name transformations

 

 

When I was transcribing the 1754 census of Spanish Town I came across three people listed as “free Mulattoes or Descendants from them admitted to the privileges of white people by Acts of the Legislature”.  Two of them I knew already – Mary Johnston Rose and her son Thomas Wynter who each lived in the house that they owned. Then there was Susanna Hosier who was recorded as a sugar planter and who owned a house worth £60 that was un-tenanted.  I was surprised that I did not know who she was and could not find any reference to her, since as a mixed race woman she seemed to be unusually wealthy.

Sometime later I was working on the family of Susanna Augier and realised that the name was sometimes written as Augier and sometimes as Hosier.  Once you pronounce Augier as ‘O-gee-er’ with a soft G you realise how it could come to be written as Hosier.  It was also occasionally mis-transcribed as Augire, Angier and Augine.   I often use dictation software when transcribing Wills and writing these blog pieces, and the software delivers ‘osier’ for ‘Augier’ !  It is the kind of name transformation that makes the work of the genealogist both frustrating and fascinating.

Having resolved the name puzzle I was able to build the story of Susanna Augier and her extended family.  She was a quite exceptional woman and well known to the Jamaican Plantocracy. Her case was used to support the argument in the construction of the 1761 act preventing “Devizes to Negroes”, limiting the inheritance of black, mixed race, and illegitimate Jamaicans to £2000. The size of her inheritance seems to have been exceptional, but it provided useful ammunition for those wanting to restrict the size of legacies.

Susanna was the daughter of John Augier, a planter who died in 1722.  He seems to have had little connection to his origins and a fondness and care for his Jamaican family.  Under his Will he freed his daughters Susanna, Mary, Jenny, Frances and Jane.  Subsequent references to his family show that there was a further daughter called Elizabeth and a son called Jacob, and probably a daughter Sarah who died young.  Susanna, who was probably born about 1707, seems to have been particularly favoured and in due course became the mother of four children with a planter called Peter Caillard or Calliard.  Mary, Peter, Frances and Susanna Caillard were born between 1725 and 1728. [But see Postscript below].

Peter Caillard died about 1728 leaving Susanna hugely wealthy. In addition to her inheritance from her father she now had a life interest in several properties in Kingston and Spanish Town and an estate including a Penn in St Catherine and a Mountain at Way Water, all valued for probate at £26,150 8s 1d, and entailed for her children Mary and Peter.  By 1753 Susanna owned 950 acres of mainly good land in the parish of St Andrew (including 40 acres under coffee, 100 acres of provision ground and 800 acres of woodland) with eighty negroes, one white servant and forty-two head of cattle. Like many other free mixed race Jamaicans Susanna owned slaves – for example John Augier ‘a negro man belonging to Susanna Augier’ was baptised in Kingston on the 4th of March 1740. Few women in eighteenth century Jamaica owned estates (most who did were planters widows), fewer still managed them themselves as Susanna appears to have done.

Peter and Susanna Caillard both died young, but in 1738 Susanna applied for the rights of whites for herself and her children Mary and Frances Caillard. A Private Act of the Jamaica Assembly dated 19th of July 1738 granted them the legal status of whites.

Mary Caillard travelled to England, perhaps to meet her father’s family in Bristol, and on the 19th of April 1748 at Henbury, Gloucestershire she married Gilbert Ford who would in due course become Jamaican Attorney General.  It was an unusual marriage for a mixed race Jamaican, even more so for a young English Lawyer.  Ford came from a well-to-do family – his brother James became Physician Extraordinary to Queen Charlotte, Physician Extraordinary to the Westminster Lying-in hospital, and Consulting Man-Midwife to the Westminster General dispensary.  Sadly there were no children of the marriage and Mary died in May 1754 at Clifton, Bristol[1].  It seems to have been after her death that Gilbert Ford went to Jamaica where he married for a second time to Elizabeth Aikenhead.

Within about a year of Caillard’s death Susanna was living with Gibson Dalzell  with whom she had two further children, Frances and Robert, and on his death in about 1755 she inherited a life interest in his estate worth £6854 1s 3d.  Dalzell made full provision for Frances and Robert who by then were living with him in London.

Robert Dalzell was sent to his father’s college, Christ Church Oxford in 1761. In 1762 aged just twenty he married Miss Jane Dodd, ‘an agreeable young lady of large fortune, and with every other accomplishment necessary to adorn the marriage state.’ [2]  There were three children of his marriage who lived into the nineteenth century and had descendants, owning the manors of Tidworth and Mackney in Berkshire.

Frances Dalzell married the Honourable George Duff, son of the first Earl of Fife, on the 7th of April 1757 and moved into the ranks of the aristocracy.  Tragically her first child was  ‘a lunatic from birth’[3] perhaps severely mentally handicapped, or born with Down’s syndrome.  Her son George and her two daughters died unmarried.

Susanna herself died in February 1757 and was buried on the 12th in Kingston.

 

All of this would be remarkable enough until you take into account the rest of Susanna Augier’s siblings.  In 1747 two Private Acts of the Jamaican Assembly were passed.  The first gave the rights of whites to Jane Augier and her children Edward James, Thomas, Peter and Dorothy.  The second on behalf of Mary Augier gave ‘the same rights and privileges with English Subjects, born of white parents’ to Mary’s children William, Elizabeth, Jane and Eleanor; to her brother and sister Jacob and Elizabeth and to Elizabeth’s son John.  Even this does not tell the whole story.

Of John Augier’s daughters it must be assumed that Jenny and Frances had probably died before 1747 and so were not included in the family’s bid to acquire full white status.  Jenny had a daughter called Sharlott, born in 1729 and dead just under two years later, whose father was the choleric Theophilus Blechynden.

Around the time of his daughter Sharlott’s death he married Florence Fulton the widow of Dean Poyntz who had left his wife an annuity of £200 a year.  Poyntz was in partnership with Mathias Philp and years later Blechynden and his wife sued the estate of Philp’s other partner William Perrin for £10,000 of back payments of her annuity.  The case dragged on for years and was only finally settled by Blechynden’s son when almost all the other parties were dead!

A not untypical example of Jamaican litigation.

Frances Augier had two sons William and John Muir, and a daughter Hannah Spencer born in 1736. Frances probably died in Kingston in February  1738.  Elizabeth whose son John was granted the rights of whites in 1747 had also had a daughter called Elizabeth who died at the age of four, both were the children of Richard Asheton.  Elizabeth was buried in Kingston on the 16th of January 1749/50. Jacob Augier also died in Kingston and was buried on the 18th of September 1751, I have found no record that he had any children.

Mary and Jane Augier both had large families.  Jane had six children with John DeCumming, of whom two died before she could apply for their rights.  It is the children of Mary who have descendants that we know the most about.  Mary had at least seven children with William Tyndall a Kingston merchant, and her daughter Elizabeth (born in 1726) had nine children with the wealthy Kingston merchant John Morse.  Morse also had a daughter called Frances, probably born before he began his relationship with Elizabeth, who was brought up by his sister Sarah Vanheelen in Holland, and who died, unmarried, in London about 1818.  Several of his children died before their father, but his three youngest daughters all married and had descendants.

John Morse had returned to London before his death – he was buried at St Mary Aldermanbury on the 2nd of April 1781. His family may have travelled with him, or may already have been educated in England. Catherine Morse married a young lawyer called Edmund Green at St Mary Aldermanbury in 1777 – the witnesses at the wedding included her uncle by marriage Joseph Royall.

Catherine had eight children, among whom her daughter Frances Ann married William Farington from the Isle of Wight who became an Admiral in the Royal Navy.  Edmund’s training as a lawyer was called into play during a lengthy Chancery suit[4] on behalf of John Morse’s children against the Morse family who were unhappy at the legacies left to his mixed race illegitimate offspring.  In this he may have had help from Robert Cooper Lee who had himself secured his children’s future via a Private Act of the Assembly passed in 1776. Frances Lee, his daughter, left legacies to her friend Catherine Green and her daughter Frances Ann Farington.

As the boom days of Jamaica were coming to an end so the focus of empire switched to India. Catherine’s sisters Ann Frances and Sarah went to India with their brother Robert and both married there in 1780. Ann Frances married Nathaniel Middleton and had ten children born variously in India and England. The Morse/Middleton fortune passed down the generations and  in 1898, at the death of Hastings Nathaniel Middleton, was worth £84,100 15s 7d.

Sarah married William Cator in Calcutta and their daughter Ann Frances became the wife of Colonel Edward Baynes who as Adjutant General to the British forces in North America was sent to negotiate the armistice with the US government in July 1812. After service in North America they settled happily to retirement in Devon, their investments managed by Robert Cooper Lee’s son Richard. Their son William Craig Baynes migrated to Canada taking charge of the extensive estates acquired while his father was serving in Quebec.

Edmund Green eventually won the Chancery case on behalf of his wife and her siblings.

By the early nineteenth century the descendants of the Augier sisters had blended seamlessly into the highest levels of British society, their Jamaican slave roots conveniently air-brushed from history.

————————————-

POSTSCRIPT : 2nd August 2012

I have been looking again at the children of Susanna Augier and I think a confusion has arisen over her children with Peter Caillard. I now think that her children with Peter Caillard were Mary, Peter and Susanna and that there is only one child called Frances – the daughter of Gibson Dalzell.

 

 

 



[1] I have a reader of this website to thank for this information. “Last week died at Clifton near Bristol, after a lingering illness, the Lady of Gilbert Ford of the Middle-Temple, Esq.” London Evening Post (London, England), May 7, 1754 – May 9, 1754

[2] ‘Parishes: Tidmarsh’, A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 (1923), pp. 433-437. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk

[4] For more detail on the Morse sisters and the Chancery case see D.A.Livesay, Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Migration from the West Indies to Britain, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Michigan, 2010 – available on-line at http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/77875

 

 

Happenstance and Villainy

 

George II shilling

One of the things I love about genealogy is tripping over a discovery while looking for something quite different.  Earlier this week I was working my way slowly through the Kingston marriage register when a name suddenly jumped out at me – nothing whatever to do with the person I was looking for.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you may remember I have previously written about Scudamore Winde who spent many years as a merchant in Kingston, dying there in 1775.  He was the son of John Winde and Mary Scudamore who had married at Kentchurch in Herefordshire in January 1728.  Their first child Mary was baptised at Kentchurch in December 1729.  The only information I had about when Scudamore went to Jamaica related to the fact that his father had committed suicide in October 1759, after which he had sold a family property at Twickenham and left for Jamaica with his younger brother Robert.  I knew nothing of any earlier connection with Jamaica.

Now suddenly there was the name Maria Scudamore Winde in the Kingston parish register five years earlier.  It is not a common name and therefore I have no doubt that this was Scudamore Winde’s sister who was three years older than him.

On the 2nd of  October 1755 at Kingston she married Gershom Williams Esquire.  To date I have no idea why she was in Kingston and whether her father had a previous connection with Jamaica, which seems likely. At twenty-six she would not have required her father’s permission to marry, but it would have been conventional and perhaps he was present. Indeed that could explain why Scudamore Winde went there after his father’s death, possibly picking up the reins of a merchant house his father had established there.

So I went in search of Gershom Williams and thanks to the Jamaican family search website and an abstract from Caribbeana I found a Will written in December 1759 by William Williams of the parish of St Anne Jamaica.  The Will begins in conventional fashion requesting his executors to pay all his just debts and then deals with the disposal of Flatt Point and Woodstock plantations and sugar works, together with a plantation pen and pimento walk and a Mansion house in the parish of Saint James.  These were being put in trust, with the trustees being Robert Arcedeckne and Zachary Bayly both of Jamaica, and Michael Atkins a Bristol merchant.  The money raised was to be devoted to a cause referred to as “the Hospital for the Maintenance and Education of exposed and deserted young Children in Lambs Conduit Fields London”.  This was the Foundling Hospital established by Thomas Coram about fifteen years earlier to provide for the needs of abandoned babies and children, and was indeed a worthy cause.

The Will went on to leave £500 Jamaican apiece to a niece and nephew and then –  “Item I give and bequeath to that most abandonedly Wickedly Vile detestable Rogue and Imposter who hath assumed and now does or lately did go by the name of Gershom Williams pretending to be a Son of mine one Shilling only to buy him an Halter wherewith to hang himself being what he hath for a long, long, very long while past Merited and deserved from the Law and hands of the Hangman for his great and manifold Villanies.”

What on earth had Gershom Williams done?  Was he really the son of William Williams, or a conman who had been passing himself off as his son?  In either case William Williams had thought it important to include him in his Will.  Today we sometimes refer to someone being cut off without a shilling, but the importance of leaving somebody only one shilling, or one penny, or some very small amount of money, was that it would prevent them from contesting the Will on the grounds that they should have been included.

It appears that William Williams actually made an earlier Will dated the 26th of May 1759 leaving the plantations to his son William Williams and the remainder to the trustees to sell on behalf of the Foundling Hospital, however by December of that year his son William had presumably died and the Will was revised, leaving the majority of the estate for the benefit of the foundlings.

There is a reference in the catalogue of the Beinecke Lesser Antilles Collection at Hamilton College[1] to articles of agreement between Gershom Williams of Jamaica and the governors of the Foundling Hospital, dated October 1763, by which Gershom Williams agreed to pay £4,500 to the Foundling Hospital by instalments in return for the governors assigning their interest in all the estates of William Williams to the use of Gershom Williams. Did the Foundling Hospital ever receive the money?

If Gershom Williams had pulled a fast one he did not live long to enjoy it.

Maria Scudamore Williams was buried in Kingston on the 17th of December 1763. Following the death of William Williams, and barely two months after the death of his first wife, Gershom Williams remarried and in his own Will, dated September 1765, he left most of his worldly goods to his “faithful and beloved wife Anna Williams”, formerly Anna McNeal and to his brother Job Williams.

Administration of the will of William Williams was finally granted in 1768 to John Edwards who was Zachary Bailey’s attorney.  Robert Arcedeckne was by then living in North America, and Michael Atkins had died.

And what had Gershom Williams done that so alienated his father?

I have absolutely no idea, and if anyone can tell me what his supposed or actual crimes were I would love to hear about it.



[1] University of Florida Press, 1994

Death and Disease in Jamaica

aedes aegypti – the mosquito that transmits yellow fever

 

The colonists who went to Jamaica in the 17th and 18th centuries were aware of many of the risks to their health but not of the causes.  Much has been written about the reasons why white society in Jamaica never became established to the same extent as it did in North America in spite of the fact that the Caribbean islands were regarded as part of the same territory.

It is notable that of the early colonists who arrived with Penn and Venables from 1655 onwards few had descendants still on the island a century later.  Very many marriages were terminated within a short time by the death of one partner. Infant and maternal mortality even by the standards of the time was shockingly high, and more than one colonist died at sea fleeing the island for the sake of their health.  Of the eight children of the Rev William May featured in an earlier article only one survived to full adulthood, with two sons aged fifteen and twenty dying at sea on their way to Boston “for the recovery of their health”.  Young girls seem to have married earlier on average than their equivalents back home in England, and it is likely, quite apart from the shortage of young white women in Jamaica, that this was at least in part an attempt to ensure the production of children before their parents’ anticipated early death.  Visitors to the island noted with shock that few of the tombstones recorded Islanders who had made it past their early thirties.

The reasons for the very high infant mortality included waterborne infections such as diarrhoea and dysentery, measles, smallpox, whooping cough, and especially in the case of infants born on the plantations to enslaved mothers infantile tetanus (known as lockjaw).  This disease whose spores are transmitted through animal faeces nearly wiped out the population of the Scottish island of St Kilda in the 19th century, until the local minister studying a course on midwifery prevented the anointing of the baby’s cord with sheep dung.  On the Jamaican plantations where women carried baskets of dung on their heads to manure the sugar cane, such knowledge and choice was unavailable.  There is no record of the number of babies who died in this way but it must have been high.

Infections such as measles, smallpox and whooping cough were no respecters of colour or class but there is evidence of appallingly high mortality among slaves newly arrived in Jamaica.  Their health already compromised by dehydration, poor food, lack of fresh air or exercise and suffering from grief and depression, those on the lower tiers of a slave ship spent the voyage unable to avoid the urine and faeces of those above them. If they survived the voyage they too easily succumbed to epidemic diseases on arrival. It was generally the practice to “season” new arrivals allowing a period of acclimatisation often by working on the pens tending livestock or producing provisions before they were put to work in the cane fields or at the more skilled and exhausting tasks in the boiling houses.

Major epidemics killed white settlers and slaves alike, with regular outbreaks of yellow fever, measles, smallpox and yaws all of which were highly infectious. There is evidence that on some plantations it was realised that the slaves themselves were better at treating yaws, with which they were familiar from their home countries, than the European doctors who prescribed mercury itself a poison and used by them to treat the related condition of syphilis[1].

Yellow fever had probably arrived in the West Indies from Africa by the mid seventeenth century. Like malaria it is dependent for its transmission on mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water, both then present in abundance in Jamaica. The clay pots used in sugar production when broken were cast down and provided small pools of water; hurricanes and earthquake tsunami created larger bodies of water ideal for breeding.

Following the disastrous earthquake of June 1692 a correspondent of Sir Hans Sloane wrote on the 23rd of September, “We have had a very great Mortality since the great Earthquake (for we have little ones daily) almost half the people that escap’d upon Port-Royal are since dead of a Malignant Fever, from Change of Air, want of dry Houses, warm lodging, proper Medicines, and other conveniences.”[2]

Another wrote “The Weather was much hotter after the Earthquake than before; and such an innumerable quantity of Muskitoes, that the like was never seen since the inhabiting of the Island.”

In addition to infectious illness with high mortality Jamaica’s inhabitants had to contend with problems caused by ticks and jiggers. Blood sucking ticks particularly attack bare flesh around the legs and infected bites could lead to more serious problems. Jiggers, or chigoe fleas, bore into the feet to lay their eggs and were particularly problematic for anyone without shoes, which of course was most of the enslaved population as well as some poor whites. It was important to remove the jiggers early in their life cycle using a specially designed knife, and many cases of lameness among slaves were attributed to the lesions from untreated jiggers. They could also attack the hands, and any part of the person exposed to the ground, such as legs or buttocks. Many plantations carried out weekly hand and foot inspections.

Europeans arriving in Jamaica recognized smallpox and dysentery, measles and whooping cough but yaws, tropical ulcers, the dry bellyache and miscellaneous fevers were new to them. Most were infections against which there was little remedy but the dry bellyache should have been avoidable by the mid-eighteenth century when its cause was understood to be lead poisoning resulting from the stills used for making rum.

Benjamin Franklin “wrote about lead poisoning on several occasions, in particular about a disease known as the dry-gripes (or dry-bellyache) that had plagued Europe and the colonies for years….in 1723 the Massachusetts colonial legislature passed a bill outlawing the use of lead in the coils and heads of stills.  Observance of this law led to vastly decreased incidence of the dry-gripes, as the population drank less and less lead-contaminated rum.” [3]

In 1745 Thomas Cadwalder had drawn attention to the extreme cases of colic ‘West India dry gripe’ that were caused by the use of lead piping in rum distillation, but it seems nothing was done and it is not clear when the use of lead was reduced in Jamaica, with large scale illness and death among the garrisons and in the navy still occurring at the end of the eighteenth century.  The better off colonists avoided the worst of this by drinking imported claret, brandy or Madeira as well as rum, but excessive use of alcohol leading to liver damage further weakened their ability to withstand illness and live to see old age.

One notable exception was Jane Gallimore born about 1664, who outlived her husband Matthew Gregory by nearly forty years and whose burial record in St Catherine in 1754 gave her age as ninety. Mary Bailie was buried on 22nd July 1756 when her age was recorded as ‘about 95’.

Many colonists chose not to risk the hazards of Jamaica once they had established their plantation, or made their fortune as merchants and left the island for ever hoping thereby to live a long and healthy life ‘back home’.



[1] Richard B. Sheridan, Doctors and Slaves, Cambridge University Press, 1985, reprinted 2009, pp.86-7

[2] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 1694, 18, pp.78-100

[3] Lisa Gensel , The Medical World of Benjamin Franklin, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Vol. 98, No 12, pp. 534-538