Butcher & Planter from St. Andrew.
Samuel Foster and Elisabeth (?) had a son, Samuel James, who was baptized on the 19th, December, 1825, in the parish of St. Andrew. Samuel’s occupation at the time was listed as “butcher”. This information is seen on Page 3 of the church register of BAPTISMS solemnized in the Parish of SAINT ANDREW, in the Island of BARBADOS in the year 1825 and 1826.
Unfortunately, there are no records for the parish of St. Andrew prior to 1825. Apparently, the registers were taken to England by Rev. John Brome, the incumbent of the parish. He died in 1828 in London, however, and the registers have never been recovered.
Although there is plenty of evidence of Fo(r)sters living in Barbados from as early as 1628, it has proven impossible to trace our family history with any certainty beyond Samuel Foster, the butcher from St. Andrew, circa 1800.
Common sense, however, suggests that a butcher from St. Andrew, whose son was born in 1825 in that parish, would himself have been born in Barbados of parents that were likely to have been Barbadian as well. Further, we can assume that the parents of a butcher from St. Andrew were not substantial land owners, or owned land at all. All of these assumptions point to a family of “poor whites”, or, perhaps, a branch of a Foster family that had once been land owners, but which, through the years, had lost their land and their wealth and had, therefore, been marginalized to the parish of St. Andrew. The Foster surname is still very prevalent in the Chalky Mount/Cambridge area.
The first Forster that was connected to Barbados was Edmund Forster. He was a merchant in London who was contracted by the Earl of Carlisle, along with other London merchants, to finance an expedition to colonize the island in 1628 under the command of Charles Wolferstone. The merchants who backed the venture were granted 10,000 acres between them. Edmund’s wife was Elizabeth Rawdon, the daughter of Marmaduke Rawdon, another of the London merchants who financed the venture.
“Wolferstone, accompanied by sixty four persons, arrived in Carlisle Bay, and landed on the twenty fifth day of July, one thousand six hundred and twenty eight. Each of the settlers was entitled, on his arrival, to one hundred acres of land.” (John Poyer, History of Barbados from the First Discovery of the Island in the year 1605…”)
Among the colonists was John Forster, one of Wolverstone’s captains. He married Elizabeth, the widow of Col. William Sandiford.
While it is unlikely that Edmund Forster ever set foot on Barbadian soil, there is a Rev. John Forster who is recorded as owning 100 acres in 1640. When Ligon’s map of Barbados was published in 1657, he recorded the name Foster as owning 100 acres in St. Peters.
Section of Ligon’s map published in 1657 showing that “Foster” owned 100 acres or more in St. Peters, close to All Saints Church.
This property was known as Ellis Castle. It was situated close to All Saints Church and on Richard Ford’s map of the island, dated 1674, Rev. John Foster’s neighbors were the Sandifords, Gays, Yeamans and Berringers. It is more than likely that Captain John Forster and Rev. John Forster is the same person. Rev. John Forster’s daughter, the infamous Margaret, is alleged to have conspired with her lover, Col. John Yeamans, in the murder of her husband, Col. Benjamin Berringer, in 1661.
Margaret subsequently married Col. Yeamans and they immigrated to South Carolina where he became governor.
Section of Richard Ford’s map of 1674 showing “Foster” owning land in St. Peters
Richard Ford’s map of 1674 also confirms that two Foster’s owned large tracts of land “Belowe the Cliffe” in St. Joseph and St. John.
These Foster’s were cousins, Thomas and George. In George’s will dated 1670 he mentions “land bounding cousin Thomas Foster”. George’s wife was Hester (nee Smith?) Foster. In 1680 Thomas owned 188 acres in St. Joseph, while Hester owned 133 1/3 acres in St. John.
These Foster’s were Quakers. Hester is listed as a Quakeress in Barbados in 1677. She attended meetings at Thicketts and Clift. (The Journal of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, Vol. IX, pg 195-197.)
Her husband, George, who converted to the faith in 1660, was a known activist in the cause of the Quakers. “Foster was one of five Quakers who sent a lengthy letter to Governor William Lord Willoughby, the Council, and Assembly in 1669 detailing the “sufferings of some of us People called Quakers in this island”. He was described as “a prosperous sugar planter in St. John parish who also had property in Bridgetown.” (The Quaker Community in Barbados: challenging the culture of the planter class” by Larry Dale Gragg)
By 1721, Thomas’ grandson, the Hon. George Foster, a member of the House of Assembly for St. Joseph from 1721-1724, owned Belowe the Cliff plantation and it remained in the Foster family until the mid 1700’s when it became the property of the Hon. Henry Evans Holder who had married Elizabeth Foster, a grand daughter of the Hon. George Forster. When it was sold to Benjamin Alleyne Cox in 1781, the name Belowe the Cliff had already been changed to Foster Hall plantation.
Is it possible that these Fo(r)ster families were connected? Which branch does Samuel come from? These are questions that we do not have the answers for. However, it is not unreasonable to assume that our Samuel Foster is a descendant of a long line of Foster’s that lived in the St. Andrew/St. Joseph area for generations.
We must also remember that the first laborers on these developing sugar plantations were indentured servants imported from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. There were certainly Fosters among them. In 1658, for instance, one Thomas Foster sailed to Barbados from Bristol as an indentured servant. In 1659, Edward Foster from Dorsetshire followed, and in 1669, another Thomas Foster left Bristol to work as an indentured servant on the island. (Centre for Barbados Studies in History and Genealogy)
So, all of the early Fosters in Barbados were not necessarily prosperous land owners. Maybe, Samuel was a descendant of one of these “poor whites”. One thing is certain, the Fo(r)ster name in Barbados dates back to Carlysle’s expedition in 1628. Hopefully, the missing link between Samuel, the butcher from St. Andrew, and his ancestors will be discovered one day.
Note: This is part 1 of a 4 part series which chronicles the descendants of Samuel Foster, the butcher from St. Andrews, Barbados. The articles were researched and written by Dennis “Denny” Foster who lives in Barbados.