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Richards and a question about Saints' family names e.g. Yon

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  • jamesteebee
    Hi Everett, Yes, I had read on this forum about your great-grandmother leaving the island for the US. It is, of course, not impossible that Sophia Richards was
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 12, 2006
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      Hi Everett,

      Yes, I had read on this forum about your great-grandmother leaving
      the island for the US. It is, of course, not impossible that Sophia
      Richards was related to your ancestor in some way. I don't have her
      dates - am awaiting these details - but she would have been born in
      the 1880s or 1890s.
      Was your Elizabeth white? My great-grandmother Sophia was not(and
      from my reading, by the time of the 1881 census, all but the London-
      sent administrators and soldiers were of mixed race). Her son
      Daniel was born in Port Elizabeth around 1920 and I know that his
      birth certificate classified him as coloured - his father was, by
      all accounts, a white Englishman, John Henry Brooks whom Sophia had
      met in P.E.
      This brings me to a general question, which I believe is a useful
      one for elucidation given that so many of us contributing to this
      forum know so little about how today's community on S.H. was formed,
      and here I mean in the specific. Everett, it may be that we are
      distantly related by blood, but I suppose it might also be true that
      my Richards line might simply begin with a Richards slave.The
      question is quite simply how did the Saints' get their names? Am I
      wrong to think that relatively few of the names from the 1814 census
      are present on the island today? Of course, I know that only the
      whites' names were recorded, the rest were simply counted under the
      categories blacks and Chinese.
      One name which was in the census and is still very present on the
      island, and which is also to be found in numbers in the Cape, is Yon.
      The references to the Yons in the 1814 census, however, don't get
      the same treatment as the others. Why was this? I have read
      somewhere on the internet that the origin of this name on the island
      is Chinese, not implausible, I suppose, but it does not convince me.
      Similarly, the statistic that Saints' have 25% of Chinese blood in
      their veins, which you can read on the web, must be wrong, surely:
      en masse, the Chinese labourers only stayed a few decades. I look
      forward to comments and explanations from historians out there.

      Thanks, Everett, for your post. I'm glad that this forum is being
      read. I have other questions for forum readers and for Dr
      Schulenberg, but for now this is all.

      Regards

      James
    • Christine Adams
      The following is taken from the book by Glennis Snell, entitled The Knipes of St. Helena, which I cited in an earlier post today. pp 178, 179 In a chapter
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 5, 2006
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        The following is taken from the book by Glennis Snell, entitled "The Knipes
        of St. Helena," which I cited in an earlier post today.
        pp 178, 179
        In a chapter entitled "Historical Background." Although a general
        bibiography is given, I did not find specific footnote for this information.
        "A law had been passed in 1792 prohibiting the importation of slaves and
        Governor PATTON hit on the idea of bringing Chinese laborers to St. Helena
        to satisfy this shortage. This scheme was approved by the EIC directors and
        in 1810 the first group arrived on the Island. They were engaged on a three
        year contract, later extended to five years. Some of these Chinese labourers
        returned to their homeland after completion of their contracts but their
        numbers were swelled by the recruitment of Chinese sailors whose ships
        called at St. Helena and who volunteered to remain on the Island as
        labourers (or simply deserted and were hidden by their countrymen until the
        departure of the ship). At its height the Chinese labour force on St. Helena
        numbered more than six hundred, but their numbers were reduced over the
        years until in 1835 only 27, who held the status of settles, were allowed to
        remain. These indentured workers were not known by their names but were
        given numbers e.g. Chinese No. 1 (holding the most important position) and
        so down. They were issued with copper disks on which their number was
        engraved and in the government records they are referred to by their number
        until the middle to late 1800's when some names appear. The well-known
        Island name of YON looks and sounds Chinese but apparently stems from French
        not Chinese and early members of the YON family were slaves, something the
        Chinese never were on St. Helena.
        Given the large number of single Chinese men on the Island it is not
        surprising that many Saints have Chinese blood, but the lack of Chinese
        surnames is very evident. This is perhpas because the established Church
        would not marry a couple were one party was Chinese (and therefore not
        Christian) so the offspring of any union with local women were given their
        mother's surname."

        If I had strong interest in this period of the Island's history, and I had
        access to a Family History Center, I would order films #1259076 - forward
        for as long as I wanted to continue tracing the Chinese habitation. There
        are actually about 17 films of EIC Consulatations between 1792 and 1835. I
        can testify that they are not easy reading, but they tend to contain
        fascinating insights among the endless minutiae. Actually, for any period of
        Island history until Apr 1835, the consultations are excellent resources. If
        your ancestor is mentioned (and almost every Christian person and many
        slaves were), you have access to details about their day to day existence
        that go 'way beyond vital statistics.

        RE: "One name which was in the census and is still very present on the
        island, and which is also to be found in numbers in the Cape, is Yon.
        The references to the Yons in the 1814 census, however, don't get
        the same treatment as the others. Why was this? I have read
        somewhere on the internet that the origin of this name on the island
        is Chinese, not implausible, I suppose, but it does not convince me.
        Similarly, the statistic that Saints' have 25% of Chinese blood in
        their veins, which you can read on the web, must be wrong, surely:
        en masse, the Chinese labourers only stayed a few decades. I look
        forward to comments and explanations from historians out there."

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