RE: [St.H.Fam.Hist.] Traders or merchants on St Helena 1800 to 1830.
I've not been following the list very closely for some time, so please
forgive me is this information is redundant, or is information you already
If I had any interest at all in this time period (which I did), I would make
every effort to obtain at least some of the LDS films for the East India
Company Consultations of the time period. Until you've read some of them,
you really can't grasp how much minutiae they concerned themselves with, and
how many of the residents ended up before the Council for one thing or
another. It's a rare opportunity to read (plowing through the handwriting)
about the everyday life of specific persons of no real reknown.
Balcombe is a name that is prominent in the writings of the period, as you
probably know. Napolean stayed at the Balcombe home for a period of time
before being moved to Longwood. Betsy Balcombe, who was about 13, had
substantial recollection of her interactions with him. I was interested in
that, because there is one little line in Napolean's diary about Betsy and
the "little Legg girl" visiting with him. I like to think that perhaps that
Legg girl was a member of my Legg family - why I don't know - tiny claim to
fame I guess.
According to Julia Blackburn, in her book, "The Emperor's Last Island, A
Journey to St. Helena," Betsy kept a "diary" of sorts during the first three
years of Napolean's captivity. Different St. Helena scholars have denied the
existence of it, but Blackburn says it is held in the archive department of
an art gallery in Melbourne, Australia. Unfortunately, she never gives any
more specific information. She does say that it's sketchy, sometimes
skipping whole months, sometimes concerning herself only with a dress she
wants, but it does also contain notes about Napolean.
As an older woman, Betsy Balcombe wrote a book under the name "Mrs. L.E.
Abell." It is entitled "Recollections of the Emperor Napolean during the
first three years of his captivity." and was published in 1944 by John
Murray [pub.] in London. I'm sure you can't find it on Amazon.com! Depending
who you consult, some scholars dismiss Betsy's recollections as "fantasies
and wishful thinking" and other believe her accounts of interactions with
Napolean to be reasonably accurate.
In answer to your question about what might be "illegal" at that time -
could be just about anything the EIC decided they should control. The
locally produced liquor is a substance called arrack -strong spirits made
traditionally from fermented fruit juices, and sap of palm tree, and it was
frequently being bootlegged.
There was a market for illegal firearms.
Depending on which items were in shortage at any given time, the Council
would undertake to strictly control and regulate their distribution. At one
time, cotton thread was a very scarce commodity. I seem to recall that salt
supplies could be exhausted.
I checked my own database for any mention of the surnames you listed, but
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- Christine many thanks for your input. I have plenty of information about
Betsey Balcombe and her friendship with Napoleon, I've even bought the
'recollections' book. Melbourne claims not to have any diary... some
extensive questions have been asked by our group of Balcombe researchers!!
William Balcombe is my husband's several-greats grandfather. I am interested
in his 'work' on the Island... when he arrived, who he was in partnership
with as a merchant, what trading he did and so on. I believe his brothers in
law Thomas Hornsby and Teavil Leason may have spent some time on St Helena
Many thanks for your suggestion re the EIC films from the LDS. I will order
----- Original Message -----
From: "Christine Adams" <adamslab2@...>
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 1:13 PM
Subject: RE: [St.H.Fam.Hist.] Traders or merchants on St Helena 1800 to
Caroline, Re your note below. I would be very grateful if you keep an eye open for any mention of James or Eleanor Bennett during your researches into the Balcombe family. The Bennetts lived at Chubbs Spring from 1814 to 1825 (and then Maldivia) and would have been very close neighbours of the Balcombes. Betsey never mentions them in her book but there may be refer
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