2075RE: [St.H.Fam.Hist.] Slave information
- Jul 1, 2014
Richard, I am not going to be much help. I have looked through most of the consultations for St Helena between 1790 and 1835 – skimmed rather than read - to pick out general info on slaves. The comments I have made re naming is my interpretation of what was going on – I have seen no document that specifically describes a naming convention. You are probably right in your assumptions but basically your guess is as good as mine. I have seen no evidence that slaves were systematically named after their owners (although some may have been) – as everywhere else in the world, naming was often at the whim of the first owner – could be a day of the week, or month – January, March eg or classical names – Hercules, Neptune, Bacchus, Cato, Caesar, or even names of the ship or port they arrived on/from – Pompey, London, Worcester. At the Cape derogatory names were sometimes chosen although there is little evidence of this on St Helena – possibly Tom Toe or Maggott but that is by no means certain. More than not is was just a name and no more and it seems possible even that names were changed when ownership changed. It is very odd that there are a number of names on the 1839 list that do not appear on the 1827 list which is very strange indeed.
Someone else was asking about Des Fountain and its alternative spellings. When looking at the handwritten records it is very difficult to be sure about a De and a Des – the curve of e’s can end with a slight reverse line and it is not easy to determine whether this is intentional or not. Likewise Desfountain or De Fountain can also be difficult when seen written. I think there were two related families and possibly they made a slight variation of their name to distinguish one from the other especially when they had the same first name. It has always been difficult to be certain as what seems the same person can be written in different ways. Also, it has to be remembered that many of the documents in the BL are copies of letters received and not the originals and the scribes no doubt had the same problem. There are a surprising numbers of errors in the records as you will see if you look at my comments regarding the muster lists.
Thank You Colin,
It's all coming back to me now. I have seen a version of your list floating about somewhere. I am a member so I have just looked through your documents. Thanks for confirming the naming protocol. It was as I hypothesised and I can now cite you good self to the family members also chasing my John Francis Young. I have long considered the possibility that he was born John Francis and picked up Young after the fact. I see your example of slave ref #14 Yon Thomas referred to as Thomas Yon.
+ Could "the young John Francis" have become John Francis Young when he jumped ship in Australia. I think I can place him in Bendigo at about 20 or younger and it is unusual, is it not, for St Helenans to have middle names?
+ If my quarry was said to have been born/baptised about 1834/35 and on marrying in 1880 on the Victorian goldfields declaring his age to be 46, his father to be Joseph Young and his mother Sarah Francis is it still within the time frame for him to have been documented under the surname of the slave owner?
+ What of his mother Sarah, were there slave owners named Francis? I notice from your 1839 alpha listing that the character of some of the Francis's does not bear well.
These are what form my quest.
Thanks and regards
Richard, the information in T/4248: long papers, bundle 720 has been transcribed (by me) and is available to members of the Friends of St Helena: http://sthelena.uk.net
If you log on and go to ‘slave ancestors’ and then look at ‘slaves listed alphabetically by name in 1839’ it will download a pdf of the complete file. Actually these people were no longer slaves – they had all been freed by this time- the list is actually an account of loaned money outstanding and does not provide much in the way of family history. The main interest is how these people had fared since they had achieved their freedom – sadly not very well.
Members also have access to the 1827 valuation list (also transcribed by me) from Brit Library India Office Records IOR/F/4/1264 and also repeated in G/32/92. (The F series are compilations of items with a similar theme – F/4/ is exclusively slave info. If you go to the BL and look at these volumes, ignore the 5 number digit at the end – it is just a folio number – it is the IOR/F/4/NNNN that you need to order). You cannot take photos of these pages or photocopy them. You can order digital photographs on a cd at a rate of 100 pages for about £35.
Miscellaneous papers relating to the administration of St. Helena - measures taken to ameliorate the condition of the slave population - regulations regarding the consumption of Cape wine etc. etc. (includes a printed copy of the Proceedings of the St.
Date: 1801 - 1823 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Claim of John De Fountain for remuneration on account of the loss of the services of his slave George Howlett, now a convict - he is granted an allowance of 4d a day by the St Helena Government - case of William Williams, another slave of De Fountain's
Date: 1825 - 1830 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
The St Helena Government expend the sum of £5,550 to secure the manumission of 124 slaves - they request the Court of Directors to allow Captain George Andrew Den Taaffe to receive a salary for his work as Reporter of Slave Emancipations.. [British Library
Date: 1826 - 1831 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Further papers regarding the gradual abolition of slavery on St Helena - proposal of Government to buy the manumission of one fifth of the slaves each year, etc. (includes list of slaves for 1827/28 giving slave's name, name of owner, age, monetary value,
Date: 1819 - 1828 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Award of medals to meritorious slaves at St Helena (includes lists of the slaves with the names of their owners). [British Library Collections, India Office Records]
Date: 1824 - 1826 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Further papers regarding the gradual abolition of slavery on St Helena (includes a list of slaves, dated 9 Jul 1832, giving names of owners and monetary value, pp 62-63, and a memorial from 62 proprietors suggesting that emancipation should be completed
Date: 1831 - 1832 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Medals and pecuniary rewards are granted to meritorious slaves at St Helena.. [British Library Collections, India Office Records] Letters concerning Torbett and money for N’s grave. Gaol regs
Date: 1802 - 1824 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Further papers regarding the emancipation of slaves on St Helena - one quarter of the remaining slave population are emancipated by lot on 29 April 1833 (includes a list of the 124 emancipated slaves, with the names of their owners, and the amount of compensation
Date: 1685 - 1833 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Question of the measures to be taken for the gradual abolition of slavery on St Helena, (includes a list of slave owners who are prepared to emancipate their slaves under certain conditions, pp 1057-60). [British Library Collections, India Office Records
Date: 1633 - 1825 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Measures taken to ameliorate the condition of the slave population at St Helena.. [British Library Collections, India Office Records]
Date: 1698 - 1824 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
Improvement in the condition of the slave population at St Helena - 500 children receiving a religious education etc.. [British Library Collections, India Office Records]
Date: 1633 - 1825 Source: Access to Archives (A2A): not kept at The National Archives
I know of no other source of general information. The Quarter Session Books which record details of crimes do have some individual slaves named but it is hit and miss whether anyone can trace their ancestors from them Only the 1791-1793 period is available at the BL under shelfmark IOR/G/32/97 - all the others Session books are on the island. Another problem is that slaves brought to the island were generally only given a first name. It was only the second generation that mostly had second names – eg a slave (or several slaves) may have the name ‘March’ and would be referred to in the records as say Mr Brabazon’s March against another March who may be say Dr Kay’s March. Slave ownership varied as slaves were often bought and sold so it is extremely difficult in many case to track down an individual. Children of these slaves used their father’s name as their last name so March’s children might be say John March. This clearly makes it easier to identify individuals.
Hope this helps a little
Hi to everyone,
I was following a lead given to me by Eddie Storey (Thanks Ed of Falcon) to get on the UK National Archives, which I did. We have similar here for those looking to chase family in Australia particularly for war service records. http://www.naa.gov.au/
Anyway I was trawling matters relating to St Helena and came across;
Ref # T 1/4248; Long Papers, bundle 720: St Helens: Slave Emancipation Loans
This particular archive has not been digitised so a request has to be made to get the files opened and the Archive replies with a quote but you can request a person reading therefore I am wondering, other than the archivists, has someone in our group has physically seen the contents of these files?
I recall seeing a table with some details on the slaves and their values around the time of emancipation. I forget who released it but I assume Colin Fox or Christine Adams (apologies to the author if I am wrong).
I am banking on the records providing some lineage details other than currently available so I guess I am asking two things;
- was this table compiled from the files in the above archive?
- are there other sources available with the slave loan details?
I see this archive as potential for we who are descendent from slaves other than the usual suspects that pop up on the genealogical websites. Given that the population at the time of emancipation was many times more than the recorded names in East India Company records I see it as a pretty safe bet.
Separately I followed Ed's advice to Hathi Trust and found the digitised marriage Banns from St James' church but I believe there were two churches on the island at the time and I am punting on two denominations. Was there a second church and are that churches records of BBBMDB ceremonies available?
(Births, Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, Deaths & Burials)
You were wonderfing why the family emigrated: what I found that our family left in 1920's after the emergence steam ships, and opening of the Suez Canal in 1860, there was a big decline in ships calling at the island. So my family were unable to get their flax to England to the market, so they sold up and left.
So this probably affected the islanders tremendously and they had to move to keep earning!
- << Previous post in topic Next post in topic >>