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454Update on Richards Caswells and Wades etc

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  • jamesteebee
    Nov 5, 2006
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      Hi Everett,

      Is it just you and me who read this forum? Not a single post in the
      best part of three weeks! Anyway, hello, too, to any other forum
      readers out there.

      Everett, I have been doing a little reading, mostly re-reading -
      more thoroughly the second time - the information on line regarding
      the history of the island. It has been a useful exercise and my
      thanks go to those who have made the information available.I have
      also had some new information from my aunt who has, in the past,
      been in contact with the archivist on St Helena. Before I go into
      this, however, I wanted to ask you whether you have been in touch
      with the archivist. I think it could be the simplest way to get the
      information you are looking for, especially since you are just
      looking, at present, to tie Thomas Richards the jeweller in with
      Elizabeth, who could have been the daughter of one of his three (as
      of 1814) sons. I think it's worth looking into. In some ways, I
      think that looking for ancestors on St Helena is probably easier
      than elsewhere, certainly easier, for example, than in South Africa
      where my great-grandmother Sophia married, her son, my grandfather,
      was born and where, too, my father was born.

      Anyway, this is the new information I have, and I am, of course,
      interested to hear if this ties in with anybody else or if anybody
      can back this up: Sophia Richards's mother was Harriet Wade who, it
      transpires, was the daughter of Sarah Wade born 1846, which would
      have made her 16 when she had Harriet, and John Alexander - this
      seems to have been a very popular combination of names on SH-
      Caswell born in 1841. Harriet, then, was illegitimate, though it
      appears, and here we could be completely off track, that Sarah and
      John cohabited and had a large family together. We don't know about
      Sarah's parents, however, John Caswell was ths illegitimate son of
      one Mary Ann Caswell who died a spinster at the age of 52 in 1870
      and a certain John Mohammed, described as an East Indian. Mary's
      date of birth would be 1817/18, which would tie her in very neatly
      with the presence of a soldier James Caswell who a ship's list,
      published on this website, shows arrived in 1813. Of course, this
      does not mean anything, and it would certainly be almost too neat a
      tie-in to be true, but stranger things happen. I have also been in
      contact with a lady whose mother was a Wade and who believes there
      is a family connection. She tells me that she has not found a Wade
      earlier than 1814. Unfortunately, we have not, as yet, discovered
      anything about Harriet's husband, James Richards, since there
      apppear to have been three men of the name on the island at more or
      less the same time. We also know that Harriet was a laundress.

      The above concerns names and dates and, as such, tells us little,
      however, it does raise questions: was it common for couples to raise
      families out of wedlock at that time?; why would there be an East
      Indian on the island in the 1830/40s? were there Malay soldiers in
      the garrison? or was he just a sailor who arrived, had a liaison
      with Mary Ann and then sailed off again, John Mohammed, perhaps
      being a generic name for an East Indian?

      One thing that has become apparent to me through reading the little
      material available on line, above all the posts on this forum, is
      that no few soldiers married the native, ex-slave girls. My reading
      of SH newspapers and websites, in general, tells me that relatively
      few of the names on the 1814 census are preseent on the island
      today - with notable exceptions such as Greentree (the oldest name
      on the island today?) and Yon. I conclude that those names on the
      island today which were not given to slaves by there owners e.g.
      Plato, Scipio, Constantine(?) and which do not belong to planters
      belong to soldiers who over the years married local girls. Then, of
      course, there is the question of temporary liaisons between the
      same. Janisch, in his compilation of news from the records, refers
      to 1824 and to 'the vestry having recommended a Tax on Free Blacks,
      the governors point out that they cannot recognise any distinction
      of Colour in legislation and that in the case of hundreds of
      individuals it would not be an easy matter to determine whether they
      ought to be classed as Whites or Blacks.' This would suggest that
      mixing had been going on for generations, yet from my reading, it is
      clear that in the 1700s, at least, there were laws prohibiting
      contact between Europeans and 'Blacks' - I do not remember the date,
      but one planter or soldier was tarred for having a relationship with
      a slave woman and was then to be shunned by the white community and
      considered 'nothing more than a black.' I would be interested to
      read more about this matter. Dr Schulenburg?

      Regarding the name Yon, something I raised in a previous post, I
      have found a reference to Worrall's slave man from 1786. Janisch
      reports a story to illustrate the legal double standards of the
      time: Worrall had ordered his slave, Yon, to steal sheep for him.
      Yon was sentenced to death, fortunately, he was reprieved, while,
      since evidence from a slave against a European was inadmissible,
      Worrall was acquitted. Where, though, does the name, perhaps the
      most common on the island today, come from? Some names I have come
      across in my reading are mysterious - Dullisear, O'bey - and I'm
      curious to know if they are ethnic names, that is, do they come from
      the countries of origin of the slaves? More generally, I am curious
      to know what,if anything, was kept up, for any time, of the
      traditions and customs of the countries of origin of the slaves.
      There must, at least, while slaves continued to arrive from the East
      Indies and Madagascar and for some time afterwards, have been some
      things which remained and formed cultural ties separate from the
      imposed language and culture of the white man.

      I will post more questions soon, in the meantime, I look forward to
      comments. I would also like to hear from descendants of Saints who
      settled in Cape Colony - in particular, Port Elizabeth - and Natal.
      I get the impression that, for a time, at least, the Saint Helenians
      formed small, but recognisable communities in Cape Town and PE and
      fell, naturally, somewhere between the European and Coloured*
      communities.
      * The Cape Coloured and Cape Malays shared a good few of their
      ethnic origins - European, Malay, Indian, Madagascan - with the
      Saints, though the former were Afrikaans speakers and through their
      Hottentot and Khoisan ancestors had a direct connection to their
      land. The Saints would have had a sense of linguistic community with
      the (white) English-speaking settlers.

      It would be nice to see a livelier discussion, but I know we are few
      in number - though, and this consoles me, more than I had originally
      thought.

      Regards.

      James
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