SAMUEL JAMES FOSTER (1825 – 1903)
On 10th, January, 1856, Samuel James Foster and Catharine Ann King were married in St. George’s Parish Church. Samuel James’ address was recorded on the marriage certificate as “The Farm” where he was a planter. Samuel’s occupation was also recorded as a planter on the certificate. Interestingly enough, in 1853, a John Henry Forster, aged 27 years, died on “The Farm” estate. It is probable that the Fosters that lived and worked on The Farm in St. George were all close relatives.
Catharine Ann King’s address at the time of the marriage was King’s Cot. King’s Cot was located near to Thorpe’s Cottage in the Walker’s area in St. George. The Fosters and the Kings appear to have been very closely connected to The Farm. In 1882, when Annie Constance, Samuel James’ and Catharine Ann’s daughter, married George Ernest King, her first cousin, Samuel James was the manager of The Farm. John Thomas King, George Ernest’s father, although deceased by 1882, had also been a planter at The Farm. John Thomas’ wife was Mary Elizabeth Whitehall, a niece of the owner of The Farm, E.H. Whitehall. George Ernest’s occupation at the time of his marriage was “planter” at The Farm. So, the Fosters and Kings both worked and lived at The Farm for at least two generations.
It is noteworthy that neither Samuel James nor Catharine Ann attended the wedding of their daughter, Annie Constance, to George Ernest King. The wedding took place at St. Augustine Chapel in St. George on the 1st, April, 1882. The Anglican priest was J. Went King and the witnesses were C.T. King and J. T. King. Catharine Ann died on the 4th, April, 1882, a few days after the wedding. This would explain the absence of both of Annie’s parents at her wedding. However, the inter-marriage would not have sat well with members of either family.
Edward. H. Whitehall owned The Farm from 1842 – 1871. This covered most of the time that Samuel James and Catharine Ann lived at The Farm. Robert Challenor Jr., who married Mary Whitehall, E. H. Whitehall’s daughter, in 1868, was the owner from 1879 – 1887.
In 1879, The Farm consisted of 239 acres, with a steam mill driven by an 8 hp engine. (Bowen & Sons and C.F. Harrison’s 1887 edition)
The factory yard at The Farm was around four acres. As one entered the yard, a coral stone boundary wall extended the entire length of the yard up the right side and along the boundary at the back of the yard in an L (inverted) shape. This wall also served as the back wall for the stables and other animal sheds. The land sloped away down the left side into a gully. The boiler house with a cooling pond was located to the left of the yard, while the horse stables and mule/oxen pens were on the right. The manager’s residence was set back in the yard on a gentle uphill slope that dropped away to an orchard behind the house. The house was a wooden structure on a coral stone foundation with substantial storage rooms for provisions underneath. Beyond the orchard, along the back wall were the pig and cattle pens. There may well have been another house towards the back of the yard behind the boiler house. Two evergreens on either side of the entrance completed The Farm’s yard.
Although there would most certainly have been a wind mill on site to grind the cane prior to the steam driven mill, there might also have been a water mill. It is reported that there was a well over 200’ deep in the yard.
Not far from the yard there is a small quarry where the coral stone for the buildings and the boundary walls would have been cut.
It was here that Samuel James’ and Catharine Ann’s children were born and raised. There were eight children in all, but only six survived to adulthood. The firstborn, Clement Allan, died when he was three years old, while the first girl, Emma Burton, died as an infant.
The six children that survived were: Walter Reynold (b. 1859), Annie Constance (b. 1861), Samuel Clement (b. 1862), Allan Percy (b. 1864), Arnold Evans (b. 1866) and Rupert Darcy (b. 1868). All of the children were baptized at St. George’s Parish Church. Samuel James, Catharine Ann and their two infant children, Clement Allan and Emma Burton, were also buried there.
Before profiling the life of Walter Reynold Foster, my great grandfather, in as much detail as is possible, let’s take a look at his brothers and sister. Please understand that these profiles are very incomplete because it is extremely difficult to gather enough accurate information to paint a reasonably complete picture of each member of the family. It is somewhat easier to recognize the general trend that our family worked their way out of the “poor white” environment of the St. Andrew Fosters in the early 1800’s by Samuel James working his way up the ladder to become manager of The Farm in St. George by the late 19th Century. It is interesting to note, however, that by the end of the century, all of his children, having benefited from an elementary education, left the “factory yard” to work and live in, or in very close proximity to, Bridgetown. This exodus away from the sugar plantations in to the mercantile community must have been a consistent trend with many “white” Barbadian families at the time, especially those families that still did not own land.
It is also interesting to note that, although Samuel James’ and Catharine Anne’s sons all pursued careers in Bridgetown, none of them ever owned their own business. Some earned enough to purchase their homes, but generally, the entrepreneurial spirit necessary to start and develop a business enterprise was not forthcoming in this generation of Fosters.
Annie Constance Foster (1861 – circa 1940’s)
Annie Constance and George Ernest King had four children. According to her great grandson, Dr. George King, Annie was still alive in the 1940’s, although when he went to visit her as a little boy, she was bedridden and not very lucid. At this time, she lived in Hastings with her daughter, May. George Ernest died in 1894 when he was only 34 years old, so Annie could not have had an easy time raising their four children. Rupert Darcy, her youngest brother, was certainly a great help to her after he married in 1910 because he provided a home for Annie and her two daughters in Belmont Road next door to his family’s home, “Abbeville”.
Paul Foster, Samuel Clement’s grandson, has written about his grandfather. Although Paul’s memoirs are unfinished, he says it best:
“Our grandfather Samuel Clement Foster was born in 1862. He ran away from home when he was 14. He and his father could not get along with each other. At 14, he must have had the equivalent of what we know today as “an elementary education”. He secured his first job at 14 in Bridgetown. His wages were six cents a day. In due course he bought books and studied and improved himself culturally and financially, eventually becoming a stevedore with DaCosta and Company.”
In 1881, however, Samuel Clement decided to change his career path as Barrie discovered while researching the validity of the story that his older brother, Walter Reynold, had joined an Irish regiment as a youngster. She writes:
“I did find a record for his brother Samuel Clement at National Archives, UK under Registers of Seamen’s Services. It seems he served on board the “Tenedos” a few months in 1881 (before his mother died).”
Barrie’s research followed HMS Tenedos and Samuel Clement on their journey:
“As far as I can tell, the “Tenedos” was in Barbados waters in April 1881. It then sailed to Bermuda and by the end of May was in Halifax. It seemed to be based there that year as it went back and forth to other ports in that area. Then towards the middle of October 1881, it headed back to Bermuda where it had to be docked en route to Jamaica. Samuel Clement’s connection with the “Tenedos” was from 21st April 1881 to 14 August 1881. His trade is shown as Clerk. So my questions are: (1) was he working for a Shipping Agent in B’dos as at 1881? (2) then worked his way over to Halifax on board the Tenedos? He would have been age 19 then, and it probably was his first connection to Nova Scotia. Paul mentions in his story that he bought the lumber from Nova Scotia to build “Boylston”.
By 1884 he was back in Barbados as that was where he and Gertrude were married. Some years later passenger lists show that he and Gertrude made many trips to Canada & USA and in one particular year (I think it was 1907 while touring over 4 months) their final destination was Halifax. His occupation by that time is listed as Shipping Agent.”
“He married our grandmother, Gertrude O’Riordan on February 26th 1884 at St.Patrick’s
Roman Catholic Church on Jemmotts Lane. She was Irish, with a name like O’Riordan what else. They had two sons and four daughters.
The last two daughters were twins but they did not live long after they were born. Our father was their eldest son, James Percival Roynan (Percy) Foster. He was born on March 7th 1891.
In 1905 our grandfather was able to buy “The Barracks Store” (located) on the eastern side of the Garrison Savannah at a cost of L150.00 sterling. In 1905 he would have been 43. He purchased the lumber to convert the Barracks Store into the family home from Boylston, Nova Scotia in 1905. He called their new home “Boylston”.
We have little information on our father’s early life, except that before they moved to Boylston the family lived in a house at the top of Dalkeith Hill. My father said he went to school at a small private school at the bottom of Chelsea Road, near the Bay Street end. He used a tricycle with iron wheels to travel to school. I have a memory that the teachers were members of the Collymore family and he told me that he and Frank Collymore were close childhood friends. Frank Collymore became a literary icon in Barbados.
Our mother Kathleen Garner Bellamy (Kitty) was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) on December 5th 1901. Our parents met when our father traveled to British Guiana (BG) in 1917 to be Best Man at his brother, Mike’s marriage to Mary King. Mike had settled in BG several years earlier and had become a successful commission agent.
Our mother was the bridesmaid and it was love at first sight. My father returned to BG the following year and the engagement was announced.
On the morning of May 24th 1919 my father and his parents arrived in Georgetown aboard the SS Parima for the wedding. They were married the same afternoon May 24th. She was only 19 years of age. The newly weds left for Barbados in the same vessel on the day after the wedding.
Our parents set up their first home in one of the apartments in Pavilion Court, Hastings, but later, just before I was born on May 27th 1925, they moved into an apartment off the ground floor at “Boylston” that Granddad built especially for us. The following year my sister Jessica was born on July 27th 1926. About 1927 our parents moved into “Cottage Louise” a middle class bungalow in St.Matthias Gap in Christ Church, obliquely opposite St.Matthias Church.”
Samuel Clement died on the 4th, November, 1936. He was buried at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church.
Allan Percy was born on the 14th, January 1864. He married Alice Kitchin in 1891. Interestingly enough, they were married by J. Went King, the same priest that presided over the marriage of Annie Constance and George Earnest King. Alice was the daughter of Capt. David James Kitchin from Nova Scotia. She was 18 years old when she got married. Allan and Alice had two daughters, Vera, who married Frank Groggin, and Esther, who married William Herche. Here is an extract from Paul Foster’s notes to Barrie:
“Allan Percy worked at Johnson & Redman Bakery which used to be on Broad Street (Ithink the location was actually Roebuck Street). Percy’s wife, Alice, managed the Seaview Hotel in Hastings.”
Auntie Millie, Reyn’s wife, remembers that three Foster brothers used to sit outside DaCosta’s every afternoon after work and socialize. I am thinking that the three must have been Samuel Clement, Allan Percy and Rupert Darcy.
Arnold Evans Foster (1866 – 1933)
Arnold Evans was born on the 7th, November 1866. He married Constance Maria Barrow on the 26th, December 1887. Between 1890 and 1900, they had three children; Miriam, Evan. A., and James Keith. As a young man, Arnold Evans was a merchant’s clerk in Barbados. However, in 1902, according to Miriam Feldman, Arnold’s great granddaughter,
“He moved his family to NY to expand his opportunities and give his children a better life. Constance did not adapt well to the climate in NY; she was taken ill quite frequently, so she made several return trips back to Barbados. Arnold died as the result of a mysterious assault by a mentally ill person at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. My Grandmother, Miriam Elise Foster-Kyle, worked to help educate her two younger brothers Evan and Keith.”
To clarify how Arnold died, Miriam further explained as follows:
“The name of the hospital Arnold Foster died at was Belleview (Bellevue). It is the oldest public hospital in the US and has a famous psychiatric facility. Arnold was a cardiac patient; the other patient escaped from the psychiatric ward and he came across Arnold and attacked and killed him.”
Although all of Samuel James’ children left the plantation life and moved to the Bridgetown area to earn a living, Arnold Evans was the first Foster to seek a better life “over and away”. The difficulties of starting over can only be imagined in the above description of what life must have been like for his family living in Manhattan, Ward 12, in the early 1900’s.
Rupert Darcy Foster (1868 – 1955)
Rupert “Darcy”was born at The Farm on 17th, November, 1869. He attended a private school in St. George; no doubt the same “elementary” school that his brothers and sister would have gone to. Samuel Evan, his son, recalls that his father told him that the headmaster was very strict and did not spare the rod! Although Rupert wanted to further his studies so that he could be ordained as an Anglican priest, he never fulfilled his ambition because he had to look after his father until his death in 1903. This suggests that Samuel James suffered a prolonged illness or was not financially secure after he retired from The Farm in 1888.
This would also account for Rupert marrying so late in life. He married Susie Eleanor (better known as “Nellie”) Boyce in 1910 at James Street Methodist Church. “Darcy” and Nellie had five children – Daphne, Phyllis, Dorothy, Samuel Evan and Geoffrey. They were all baptized at James Street Methodist Church. “Darcy”, as might be expected, became a lay preacher and preached at Methodist churches around Barbados; but particularly, at James Street Methodist Church.
He worked all of his working life at Ince & Co., a general grocery store located in Roebuck Street. When he retired in 1943, due to blindness caused by cataracts, he was manager of the store.
“Darcy” and his family lived in Belmont Road. The house that they lived in, Abbeville, was owned by Nellie’s mother, but when she died, the Foster’s inherited the property. There was a small cottage next to Abbeville where Annie and her two daughters, May and Annie, lived for many years.
Note: This is part 2 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.