James Richards, Harriet Wade and Sophia
- Hi Everett,
I didn't suggest that your Elizabeth was not white, I merely stated
that my great-grandmother was not. I think it is probably a fairly
safe bet that Elizabeth was the daughter of one of Thomas Richards's
three sons, this would mean that her father was presumably white. As
to Elizabeth's mother, there is no reason to presume she was not
white. However, by the time Elizabeth was born, I presume she was in
her teens or twenties when she sailed to the U.S., the island's social
composition must have begun to change: the last slaves had been made
free, the East India Company had been replaced by government from
London and, in addition, with changing fortunes, those who had the
wherewithal to leave - the more well-to-do - started leaving with the
poorer whites and the former slaves remaining.
These, at least, are my deductions from what I have read of the
history of the period. However accurate or not these suppositions,
what is still unclear to me is whether any slaves took their masters'
names. It does seem to me that if they, indeed, did do so, it was not
common, or at least not as common as for slaves to bear
surnames/nicknames bestowed on them by their masters - frequently from
a classical background eg Plato, Leo, Caesar. I'm still hoping that
someone better-informed out there can shed some light on this.
I am now able to post some more details about my Saint Helenian
ancestor. Sophia was born on 13th February 1886 on SH. Her parents
were James Richards, date and place of birth unknown, though I think
him likely to be have born on the island, and Harriet Wade born on SH
on 17th May 1862. Harriet and James married on 19th April 1885. Sophia
left for Port Elizabeth on the RMS Galician in January 1903. I do not
know for what reason she left, what schooling she had had nor what
became of her parents, but I presume they lived the rest of their
lives on the island.
Regarding James Richards: there is a record of a James Richards being
a witness to the marriage of William Knipe, boatman, and Louisa Myra
Yon on 5th May 1879.Is this my great-great grandfather? The other
witness was Ruth Yon, who may have been married to one Thomas Bagley,
another boatman. I mention this for two reasons: the first is that I'm
not exactly sure what a boatman did, and secondly, because there is
family lore which suggests that either James or, possibly his father
was in the Royal Navy. It is also said in our family that there was a
Red Richards, so called because of his red hair, again it is not clear
if it was James or his father, but I suspect his father, as it was
said that he was from Belfast. In addition, one of the two met a
violent end in Marseille. I wonder if any of these details ring any
bells with anyone else.
Before writing my next post I hope to have some details regarding the
Caswell connection. Look forward to any comments or suggestions.