This is the first of our Gittens ancestors that I have found who has been elevated into the nobility of English society with the title of Lady. I though I would pass along a little bit about her for your interest.
The Future Lady Gertrude Agnes Cameron was born as Gertrude Agnes Gittens on March 18, 1877 in British Guiana. She was the daughter of Duncan Ostrehan Gittens Esq. and Margaret Amanda (Smith) Gittens. She was one of two girls born in this family. Her grandparents were John Hamlet Gittens, Esq and Ellen Hinds Clark who were a wealthy and influential Barbados family who owned at least two plantations, Oldbury and Applewhaites, in the Parish of St. John. Lady Gertrude’s grandfather was the Hon. Rev. John Hamlet Gittens, B. A. who has a very interesting background. The Hon. Rev. John Hamlet Gittens, B.A. was a planter, a politician who was a senior member of the Executive Council of the Government of Barbados, and a clergyman. He received a B.A. degree from Cambridge University, England and was ordained as a Deacon in the Anglican Church in Bristol on October 6, 1810. He returned to Barbados and served the church in many roles but most notably as the Rector of St. John’s church (1821-1845) a span of 25 years. Interestingly, his son George Duncan Gittens was also an Anglican minister who succeeded his father as Rector of St. John’s Church in 1847 and stayed at the church until 1862, some 15 years.
Lady Gertrude married Sir Donald Cameron (1872-1948) in 1904 in Guyana which was then called British Guiana. Sir Donald Cameron was a member of the British Foreign Service and he and Lady Gertrude subsequently spent many years in Africa where Sir Donald served as a Colonial Governor in Nigeria.
The following excerpt is from a book written by Harry A. Gailey titled “Sir Donald Cameron Colonial Governor”. The excerpt provides a glimpse into the personal life of Lady Gertrude.
“Cameron was married at the age of thirty-one just before leaving Guiana for his new position in Mauritius. The future Lady Cameron was Gertrude Gittens, a resident of Oldbury, Barbados. Despite much later speculation that Cameron’s marriage was not totally satisfactory, it was a union which lasted almost forty-five years. That Cameron was devoted to his wife seems clear from a close reading of his book or a perusal of his first will written when Lady Cameron had been ill for some time and was then hospitalized. It is undoubtedly true, as many observers have noted, that Lady Cameron was a quiet, introverted woman who much preferred to remain in the background and who did not thrive on the many social functions that the wife of a governor had to perform. She appears not to have been Cameron’s intellectual equal, but there were few who could make this claim. As Governor of Tanganyika, Cameron tended to invite certain couples over and over to small informal parties at Government House. In most cases the wives were charming and witty and the governor obviously enjoyed their company. But there was never a hint of scandal and it is obvious that Cameron’s marriage was at least satisfactory. Thus the charge by Sir Edward Grigg that Cameron was a lonely man during the crucial years of 1926-27 must be measured by an understanding of the different interpretations of the term lonely. The Camerons had one son, Geoffrey Valentine. To Sir Donald’s great sorrow, his son who was then Legal Secretary to the Malta government was killed in an aircraft which disappeared in the Mediterranean in May 1941. This tragedy obviously affected Lady Cameron greatly and her condition which later required continuous hospitalization can be said to date from the loss of their only son.”
(This Blog was edited on December 8, 2010 to correctly identify Lady Gertrude Agnes Gittens as the daughter of Duncan Ostrehan Gittens and his wife Margaret Amanda Smith. Many thanks to Harold Hart for bringing the correction to my attention.)
In my family research I have found a few naming conventions that had been quite puzzling. One of these is the use of “Wyndham” as a second or third given name in one of the Gittens family lines. The reason for the curiosity is that the origin or significance of the “Wyndham” name has not been identified.
Typically, but not always, children are named after family members, parents, grandparents and great grandparents, or other close relatives. For example, a wife’s maiden name is often used as a second given name, or even sometimes as a third given name.
An example of a fairly typical naming convention is my own name. In my particular case my full name is Clifford Charles Gittens. I am named after my great uncle, Clifford Bertram Gittens and my maternal grandfather, Charles Leslie Crittenden. In the case of each of my children, their mother’s maiden name of Johnson was included as one of their given names. However, the use of Wyndham as a second given name does not seem to fit any pattern. The first use of the Wyndham name in the Gittens family was with Fenwick Wyndham Gittens. We believe Fenwick Wyndham Gittens was born on the Island of St. Kitts in about 1857. His parents were William Nathaniel Gittens and Ann Christian Field who both were born in Barbados. Initially, I expected to find the Wyndham name used somewhere in the ancestors of William Nathaniel Gittens and Ann Christian Field. However, after researching their respective families back for two generations, the Wyndham name was not present. Further research revealed that the surname of Wyndham does not appear in the baptismal or marriage record in Barbados prior to about 1890, which is the date that Barbados records are available online.
Fenwick Wyndham Gittens married Florence Elizabeth Hordle Mann on 14 Dec 1880, in Barbados. They had 6 children who survived into adulthood, 3 girls and 3 boys. In the case of the girls only one daughter used the Wyndham given name with her children. Edith Wyndham Gittens who married Doctor Longfield Longfield-Smith named her oldest son, John Wyndham Longfield-Smith [who I refer to as John Wyndham Longfield-Smith Sr.] John Wyndham Longfield-Smith Sr. had two children and carried forward the Wyndham given name with his son, John Wyndham Longfield-Smith Jr., but did not use the Wyndham given name in his daughter’s name. In the case of Fenwick and Florence’s sons, only Darnley Erroll Wyndham Gittens (“Erroll”) had children. Erroll was married twice and had two children in each marriage, in total 3 boys and one girl. Each of these 4 children has Wyndham as a second or third given name.
Only Erroll’s boys in turn had children. Each of these three boys used the Wyndham second given with every single child born to them. Each successive generations of children repeated the pattern of using Wyndham as a second or third given name. We have as many as 6 generations who have used and are continuing to use the Wyndham given name. I have had the opportunity of asking a few people who use the Wyndham given name what its significance was and if they knew why it had been carried for so many generations.
No one was really sure of what the history of the name was. This certainly increases the curiosity……???? My purpose in publishing this blog is to see if anyone associated with the Gittens Family is aware of any family lore, or family history which might shed some light on the Wyndham name. If you can provide any information regarding the Wyndham name please submit a comment in the box below.
The intent of this blog is to gather information about the history of the Barbados Gittens family, who were very early English settlers in Barbados, and to make the information available to family members and other interested individuals.
This first blog contains an overview of the Gittens family history and its origins in Barbados. Future blogs will attempt to highlight some of the interesting aspects of the Gittens family of Barbados over the past 350 years.
All comments, suggestions and or ideas are invited and welcomed. I would especially appreciate making contact with other members of the Gittens family who have an association, past or present, with Barbados.
The start in Barbados
My ancestors, the Gittens Family, were white settlers who arrived from England in the mid sixteen hundreds. It appears likely that the family came from England but as yet there is no direct evidence supporting this assumption.
The early history of the Gittens family in Barbados is often confusing as records of this era, if they exist, are somewhat brief. For example baptismal records often only include a parish name, date, name of father and name of child. As time progressed the record keeping became better, often including the first name of the mother on baptismal records. Adding to the confusion were the naming preferences of the era. The Gittens family, for example, often used John, Nathaniel, Isaac, Benjamin, Joseph and Joshua for male children and Mary, Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Hannah for female children. This meant that almost every family had children with the same names making positive identification of children often challenging.
Further complicating the family history was the illiteracy of the 1600’s. The officials doing the record keeping wrote names as they heard them. The majority of the people of the era could not read or write so they were not able to correct spellings. Because of this the Gittens name had many variations, some of which included Gittings, Githens, Gittins and Gettings. The name standardized to Gittens following the census of 1715.
The final factor that adds to the confusion is that many of the Gittens in Barbados took up the Quaker faith in the 1655-1700 era. Unfortunately, all of the Quaker records have been lost over time.
The First Settlers
John Gittens and his wife Mabel were the first Gittens family to have children baptized in Barbados. It is likely that there were 8 children fathered by John Gittens as follows:
Mary Gittens, daughter of John Gittens was baptized 12 June 1648 in the parish of St. John. This is the earliest record of the Gittens in Barbados.
Isaak Gittens, son of John Gittens, baptized 22 November 1650 in the Parish of St. Phillip.
Maria Gittens, daughter of John Gittens and Mabel baptized 31 August 1678 at the age of 18 years and 7 months, in the parish of Christ Church. Maria was also married the same day to John Herbert in the Parish of Christ Church.
Joseph Gittens, this relationship was establish from a census done in 1679/80 listing the militia members
James Gittens, this relationship was establish from a census done in 1679/80 listing the militia members
John Gittens, This relationship was determined through a 1679/80 census of land owners which included three Gittens in the Parish of St. Phillip: John Gittens Senior owning 30 acres and 8 slaves (father) : John Gittens Junior, owning 5 acres and 4 slaves (son of John Gittens senior): Isaak Gittens. owning 25 acres and 8 slaves (son of John Gittens Senior)
Elizabeth Gittens, married Edward Barrett on the 14 February 1681 in the Parish of St. Michael.
Elizabeth Gittens was mentioned in the will of Thomas Pooler. She was the daughter of John Gittens and his second wife Elizabeth Pooler.
It is from these eight children that the Barbados Gittens family is descended.
The next blog will focus on the origins of the Gittens name.
Paul Foster, founding partner of the travel agency Foster & Ince, died this morning. He was in his early nineties.
Friends and loved ones have been offering their condolences on social media to the family of a man being remembered as a visionary and champion of tourism and heritage, who made a sterling contribution to the development of Barbados in the post-Independence period.
First Vice President of the Barbados National Trust, John Webster, in paying tribute to him said: “His contributions to the advancement of the Barbados National Trust (BNT) in its earlier years are immeasurable and we are fortunate to have had his leadership during the years he served. He was also a great photographer and documented many of the activities of the BNT and life in Barbados.”
Prior to venturing out into his own business, Foster was the manager of the Barbados Tourist Board – the predecessor to the Barbados Tourism Authority and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. – and a past President, Executive Director and Council member of the Barbados National Trust.
He was also one of three founders of the Rotary Club of Barbados; as well as founder and first president of the Barbados Jaycees and national president of the West Indies Jaycees. He was also a former captain of the Barbados Water Polo team.
In previous media interviews, Foster noted that his main focus at the Barbados Tourism Board was to encourage cruise ships to visit Barbados and to promote Barbados as a summer destination.
Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards in recognition of his public service and contribution to tourism, including the Gold Crown of Merit in 1985.
Article was published in the Barbados Loop News on December 24, 2016
(By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: January 11, 2016)
FORMER Scunthorpe borough councillor Allen Gittens has died at the age of 86.
Father-of-two Mr Gittens worked on the Tata Steel works in Scunthorpe – then the British Steel Corporation – as an assistant engineer before he retired.
He stood as a Conservative candidate in the Lincoln Gardens ward in the 1978 local council elections, but later defected to the then-fledgling SDP party.
But Mr Gittens was best known as a community leader.
He was a founder member of the Scunthorpe Anchor Swimming Club and at one time helped to run the Scunthorpe Steelers American Football team.
He was also a governor at the town’s Brumby Comprehensive School – now Outwood Academy Brumby.
Paying tribute, Shay Eddy, a former player-coach with the Scunthorpe Steelers, said: “Allen was a well-loved member of the Steelers family throughout the late-1980s.
“His enthusiasm and zest for life saw him helping out behind the scenes and on the sidelines.
“He worked well with head coach Robin Burton and was instrumental in attracting coach Antimarino to help out at the club.
“He was at that great victory away at Aberdeen and ended up celebrating in the freezing sea.
“My family thought the world of him and his wife Doreen. We will always remember him smiling and shouting encouragement from the sidelines.”
A further tribute came from former Scunthorpe mayor and council leader Cyril Nottingham who said: “It is sad to hear of Allen Gittens’ passing.
“During the years I worked with Allen he was a great supporter of the swimming clubs. He believed by getting on the council he could help more people.
“Like many of us, his disappointment was with the council and that it worked very slowly.
“In the end, Allen decided to go back to charity work. His wife Doreen backed him to the hilt.
“Allen was always cheerful and always found something good to say about people.
“Otherwise he was silent. As those who remember him as a councillor, which was many years ago, he took his work very seriously, but found it hard with the council to get things done that he would have liked for the people. He will be missed.”
Scunthorpe is a town in North Lincolnshire, England. It is the administrative centre of the North Lincolnshire unitary authority, and had an estimated total resident population of 72,514 people in 2010. A predominantly industrial town, Scunthorpe, the United Kingdom’s largest steel processing centre, is also known as the “Industrial Garden Town”. It is the third largest settlement in Lincolnshire after Lincoln and Grimsby.
This post will be of interest to Foster Family members.
Rosie Drew, nee O’Reardon, died 14 Mar 1908 in Philadelphia. What’s really fascinating are the details included in her death record. It states she was born 14 Mar 1862, in the West Indies, and that her parents were Michael O’Reardon, born in Ireland and Mary Ann Fox, born in England.
The exciting part is that my G-G-Grandparents were also named Michael O’Riordan (spelling differs), born in Ireland and Mary Anna Fox, born in Barbados. They were married 4 Nov 1858 in St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Barbados which is shortly before Rosie’s birth date.
The death record is convincing evidence that she may be the child of my G-G-Grandparents. The other known children of Michael O’Riordan and Mary Ann Fox are:
Kathleen O’Riordan, born circa 1865, never married and lived with the family of her sister, Gertrude and Gertrude’s husband Samuel “Clement” Foster.
Jerry O’Riordan, born circa 1865 and immigrated to the USA at an early age.
Gertrude O’Riordan born 16 Sep 1866, Barbados married Samuel Clement Foster in 1884, had 4 children who survived into adulthood and died 25 Mar 1934 in Barbados. (My G-Grandparents)
Son O’Riordan, Born Circa 1865. He was noted in family lore but his name was not known.
And maybe Rosie
We don’t know very much about Rosie. Her early life is shrouded in mystery in that family lore makes no mention of her, either by name or other reference. Likely she was baptised in St. Patrick’s Roman Church in Barbados (pictured above) further research at the church is required.
Records indicate that she immigrated to the USA in 1883, at age 21 and was married two years later to Louis Lyman Drew in Philadelphia. The couple subsequently had 4 children:
Nellie Drew, born Apr 1888 in Philadelphia
William F. Drew, born Apr 1888 in Philadelphia
Miriam F. Drew, born about 1889 in Philadelphia
Louis L. Drew, born Aug 1890 in Philadelphia
After Rosie’s death in 1908 her husband remain living in Philadelphia until sometime after the 1920 census where he appears living with his married daughter Miriam and her family. He does not appear in the 1930 census and the assumption is that he died before 1930. A family tree on ancestry.com states he died in Barbados. His death is another piece of evidence that connects Rosie to Barbados.
If anyone should have any knowledge about Rosie please add a comment.
Part I of Harry’s life sketch ended in about 1930 just following his separation from his first wife Molly Dowler and after the birth of their daughter Barbara.
When Harry’s marriage ended in the late 1920’s he was living in Montreal. Sometime after this Harry entered into a relationship with Agnes Mary Connor. We don’t know very much about Agnes, except she was born in Glasgow, Scotland on October 22, 1903.
Harry and Agnes had a daughter, Patrica Mary Conner who was born in Toronto in 1936. In 1940 Harry and Agnes married in Toronto, he was 49 at the time and she was 36.
Harry and his family then moved to Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario. Two children followed, Margaret Ann Leach was born 1941 and John Andrew Connor Leach (Jack) was born 1944.
Harry’s son “Jack” recalls the following about his father.
“My Dad took a job as a bookkeeper with The Canadian Army Ordinance in Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario. He & his new family settled in this beautiful town shortly thereafter. My sister Marg was born in 1941 and me in 1944.
Dad later took a position as the head bookkeeper at the famous Shepherd Boats factory. He was well thought of by the workers; he gave them great advice on money matters. He set up & managed their book for many years until Old Shep (as he was known) passed away. The firm was sold & they brought in their own people.
He then went to work for Canadian Canners in town. They are now known as Del Monte Foods. He set up there accounting system & managed the office until his retirement. He also prepared Income Tax forms for many small business in Town. He never made an error. He was well respected in the community.
My Dad smoked a pipe; Picobac was his choice of tobacco. He walked tall & erect ( he never forgot his army training). He was an avid gardener he worked his garden all by hand; he was meticulous and had tons of patience. He never held a drivers license or owned a car. He subscribed to the Cricketer magazine and he was an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan. He would sit in front of the TV on Saturday night, with his pen and paper and record all the stats for each game. His printing and handwriting was perfect. He recorded all his notes etc. by hand. He tuned into the BBC news from London at noon every day.
He was an avid church goer. We attended St. Marks Anglican Church every Sunday. He was a strong conservative and we would have many interesting conversations over supper. His strongest qualities were his great sense of humour and his honesty. He spoke his mind on many occasions. These 3 qualities I have tried to live up to. I am still telling the jokes he told when I was a kid.
He was a very proud man until the day he died. His last wish was to see his grandson Larry, who he adored. He died knowing that the Leach name would be carried on. He was so proud of me when Larry was born. Now we have Rory [Larry’s son] : Dad would have been be so happy.”
Harry died on May 4, 1975 and is buried in the Niagara Lake Shore Cemetery. He was 84 when he died.
Harry’s wife agnes died a few years later, on 13 December 1983 in Parry Sound Ontario, she was 80. Agnes is also buried in the Niagara Lake Shore Cemetery.
Walter Reynold Forster was born on 5th, June 1859. He was baptized at St. George Parish Church on 28th, July. Unfortunately, there is not a lot that is known about Walter Reynold. It may be assumed that he had a strict Anglican upbringing and that he attended the same private “elementary” school in St. George that all the children went to.
As the oldest child, he might well have been the first to go to Bridgetown to find work when he left school, although it is not known where he lived. However, he fell in love with Constance Cromartie Leacock who lived with her grandfather and mother in Suttle Street. Walter Reynold and Constance were married in 1885, a year after her mother, Rosilla, died. They were married in St. Michael and it is very likely that the marriage ceremony was at St. Paul’s Church because this was where Constance was baptized and Walter was buried in the cemetery there on 15th, May 1915.
The popular family story goes that Walter was in a regiment in his youth, but there is no evidence of this. In fact, his occupation in 1887 is a “merchant’s clerk” as stated on his son’s, Walter Neville’s, baptism certificate.
When Arthur Reynold, “Kelly”, was born in 1890, the parents’ address was Beckles Road and it appears that that is where the family home remained until 1912 when Walter Reynold and Constance, rented a home in the Military Prison, St. Ann’s, the Garrison. This building currently houses the Barbados Museum. It is here that Walter Reynold died in 1915.
Constance Cromartie Leacock’s background was very different from that of her husband. She was the daughter of George Phillips Leacock and Rosilla Lloyd Cromartie. Although Walter Reynold’s father had worked his way up the ladder to be the manager of a sugar plantation, he was not a landowner and none of his family was influential in commerce. The Cromartie’s, however, were wealthy plantation owners, owning two plantations in St. Philip, Woodbourne and White River. The family was also very influential in the mercantile community. In 1847, Colonel Frederick Maitland Cromartie, the Supervisor of Supplies and Ordnance Stores for the British Army, appointed Joseph Leacock, George Phillips’ grandfather, to be the “Deputy Ordnance Storekeeper” (The Barbadian newspaper of the 4th, Dec 1847)
Rosilla’s story is a mysterious one. There is no baptism certificate to be found for her, for instance. The year of her birth, c.1846, is based on her age given on her marriage certificate. Also, her father’s name is not shown on that certificate. Was she the illegitimate child of Sarah Cromartie (nee Nurse)? There is another more likely answer.
Matthew Cromartie, Colonel Frederick’s brother, lost his wife, Charlotte (nee Lloyd) in childbirth in 1839 when his son, Matthew Henry, was born. Who would have looked after his new born son for him? He must have hired a nurse to help. Is Rosilla the illegitimate daughter of Matthew Cromartie and a nanny? The name Rosilla Lloyd Cromartie suggests that this could have been the case. Rosilla and Constance Cromartie, Colonel Frederick and Sarah Cromartie’s daughter, were obviously very close childhood friends because Constance Cromartie Leacock was named after her.
Rosilla was sixteen years old and three months pregnant when she married George Phillips Leacock in April 1862. George Phillips was a student at Codrington College and intended to follow in the footsteps of his father, George William Leacock, who was a school teacher. The Cromartie family left Barbados for good by 1871. It is noteworthy that Rosilla was not mentioned in either Colonel Frederick’s or Sarah’s will.
The Leacocks lived in Roebuck Street, which was the main commercial street of Bridgetown.
On 24th, July 1863, the following advertisement appeared in the Times newspaper.
GEO. P. LEACOCK
The Subscriber begs respectfully to inform the Public of his intention to open
For young Gentlemen, at which instruction will be given in the Classics, French, and the Elements of Mathematics, in addition to the subjects comprising an ordinary English Education.
Due notice will be given as to the time and place of opening, so soon as he shall have received applications for the admission of as many pupils as will enable him to make a commencement.
Parties who might be disposed to place their Children under his care and tuition, are hereby assured of his utmost endeavours to afford satisfaction, by a conscientious discharge of the duties devolved on him.
Geo. P. Leacock.
I have found no evidence that this seminary was ever opened.
Constance Cromartie Leacock was born on the 7th, September 1863 and was baptized on the 11th, December at St. Paul’s Chapel. When she married the dashing young Walter Reynold in 1885, both of her parents had already died. Her father died on Christmas Day 1880. The obituary in The Barbados Globe on the 27th, December, read:
GEORGE PHILLIP LEACOCK
On Friday evening last at the residence of his father, in Suttle Street, GEORGE PHILLIP LEACOCK, aged 39 years. His remains were interned the following afternoon at St. Paul’s Cemetery, Bay Street.”
Rosilla died in 1884. She was 39 years old.
Walter Reynold and Constance had eleven children; five boys and six girls. One of the girls, Gladys May, died as an infant.
The Fosters must have been very busy parents, interacting with their children in creative and meaningful ways. Constance was a very accomplished pianist and I suspect that Walter Reynold might have played the violin because at least two of his sons, Roy and Donald Vere, played the violin, while “Kelly” played the bass fiddle and the saw! Certainly, the children were encouraged to play music and sing; and the girls, in particular, were also taught art. Auntie Gloria, Cecil’s daughter, remembers Winnie as being a fine painter. The boys were Walter Neville, Arthur Reynold (“Kelly”), Cecil Bertram, Roy Cromartie, and Donald Vere. The girls were Vivian Cromartie, Winifred, Annie Kathleen, Eileen, and the baby of the family, Elsie.
The boys must have participated keenly in many sports, especially swimming, athletics and football. At the turn of the 20th Century, the Garrison area was fast becoming a middle class suburb of Bridgetown. The British troops were withdrawn in 1905/1906, so many of the buildings that may have housed the barracks, hospital, and prison, became available for rent or sale. The Garrison Savannah must have been teeming with boys and girls playing games. Carlysle Bay offered plenty of opportunity for long days spent at the beach swimming and playing. The Fosters would most certainly have been in the thick of things.
Some of the Foster children went to primary school at “Woodville”, Chelsea Road, where Frank Collymore’s grandmother “gave piano lessons and kept a school”. The following extract is from ‘Frank Collymore, a biography’ written by Edward Baugh (page 15):
The school must have had fewer than a dozen children, because the room that it occupied was very small. “I remember the long table running down the centre with the children sitting on either side and the old lady at the head, facing the back door.” (F.C’s diary, July 29th, 1939). He also remembered many of the children very well – the Bynoes, the Fosters, the Richardses, the Waithes, the Sterlings and the Mustors –
“I remember Annie Waithe (correct spelling is Waite), later to be Kelly’s (Kelly Foster’s) wife, then about 11 or so and her two brothers, rather loutish creatures, Freddy and Lennie, with their loud voices and being made to stand on the bench.” (F.C’s diary, July 29th, 1939)
Although all of the children would have received a basic education at private schools, supplemented by learning music and art at home, it appears that only two boys, Arthur Reynold (Kelly) and Cecil went on to further their education at Harrison College, the premier boys’ secondary school in Bridgetown. Two of the girls, Kathleen and Elsie also attended Queen’s College, a school for girls which opened in 1883.
Vivien Cromartie Foster (1886 – )
Vivien was born on 29th March 1886. She immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s and married John Jackson. They lived in Poughkeepsie where the descendants of Walter Neville still live today. John Jackson died in 1929 and Vivien married a second time to William, “Bill”, Aldrich. They too lived in Poughkeepsie, New York. Phyllis Foerschner, Donald Vere’s daughter, shared some memories of Vivien. She wrote:
“Although my father spoke of his sisters and brothers quite often, I am more familiar with their names than with dates regarding their births, deaths and marriages. The only sister I recall vividly is my Aunt Vivien. As you know, she and Uncle Bill lived upstate New York (Poughkeepsie). As a child, I remember several visits to their home. They visited with us a few times in our Queens, New York, home a few times. Uncle Bill (William) was Aunt Vi’s second husband (a lovely man) and neither her first nor second marriage produced children. I do remember seeing a photo of Aunt Vi’s first husband on a table at her home. He was an extremely handsome man. I do not know his name. Aunt Vi said that he died from gas poisoning during the First World War. Perhaps Aunt Vi’s relatives in Poughkeepsie can fill you in there. The last time I saw Aunt Vivien I was about twenty years old (1948?). She had an eye operation in New York City and stayed at our home about two weeks before she was well enough to travel. Uncle Bill did not accompany her.”
Although Vivien never had any children, as the oldest of the siblings that immigrated to New York, she must have had a strong stabilizing influence on her younger brothers and sisters who lived in the U.S. When Walter Neville, for instance, immigrated in 1923, he lived in Poughkeepsie, and when he died in 1935, it was Vivien and Bill that paid the U.S$70.00 for his burial plot at Cypress Hills Cemetery. No doubt, when Vere, Walter Neville’s son, made his way to the U.S, he, like his father, would have found a home in Poughkeepsie with Vivien and Bill Aldrich.
Walter Neville Foster (1887 – 1935)
Walter Neville was born on the 8th, February 1887. He was baptized on the 23rd of April at St. Ambrose Chapel in Bridgetown.
His first son, Vere Burtram, was born in the U.S.A in 1911. This would indicate that Walter Neville and Ruby Bourne may have married in 1910. For whatever reason, the young family returned to Barbados shortly after Vere’s birth. Emily Foster, Ron Foster’s wife, shares a family story about Walter Neville:
“Walter and Ruby were here in the US when their first son was born. Vere Burtram Foster was born in a New York City hospital. They returned to Barbados and had two (actually three) more sons and a daughter. Vere was teased and called a Yankee. As the story goes, Walter Neville and some of his buddies bought a ticket for the Irish Sweepstakes and they won. I guess Neville didn’t use it wisely and made a few investments and it became necessary for him to leave Barbados. We don’t know much about him until Vere leaves Barbados and lands in the US.”
Please note, Ronald Foster is Vere’s Burtram’s son.
Walter Neville’s passport shows that he made two further trips to the U.S., one in 1920 and the last in November 1923. His occupation on the passport is “Seaman”.
The 1930 U.S. Census records show Walter N. Foster living in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY. His relationship to the head of household is “employee” and it lists his father as being born in Ireland and his mother in Scotland! No mention is made of Vere Burtram, his son, although he must have immigrated to the U.S by that time.
Emily and Ron write:
“Vere must have taken a few trips with the Cunard Lines – when he met up with his father, Neville he had $800 – a lot of money – you could buy a car for $400. I know Neville told him to send it home. Vere did not smoke or drink at that time. It wasn’t until he met up with a couple of Irish men that he took them both up. Neville worked as a doorman or an elevator operator for big hotels or exclusive residents.
Like many they traveled up state for work. There were many state hospitals for the mentally disabled that provided employment. Aunt Vivian and her family moved to Wingdale, NY and found work at the state hospital there.”
Walter Neville spent eleven years in New York before he died in 1935. He never did reunite with Ruby and their children, with the exception of Vere who was born in the U.S.A. Walter Neville was 47 years old when he died.
Clement Lisle Foster (1891 – 1891)
Clement Lisle died as an infant.
Winifred Foster (1892 – )
Winnie, or Aunt Winnie as she is remembered by Auntie Gloria, never married. She had a very good job at a bank and was an independent woman. Her mother, Constance, lived with her for many years in Hastings. When Constance died in 1938, her address was “Beach Gate”, Hastings. Uncle Geoffrey remembers Winnie living at Pavilion Court when he was a little boy (circa 1950). Apparently, Winnie was very fond of art and was quite an accomplished painter.
She accompanied her mother on a trip to New York, probably in 1937, to visit their family who had made the US their home. This visit was referred to by Phyllis Foerschner, Donald Vere’s daughter, in a letter to Barrie. The highlight of the trip was seeing Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist of all time, in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.
Cecil Bertram Foster (1893 – )
Cecil was born on the 7th of June, 1893. He attended Harrison College from 1908 when he was 15 years old and left in 1910.
Auntie Gloria (Goddard), Cecil’s daughter, told me that he met his wife, Stella Arnold, in Guadeloupe where he worked in the sugar industry. Stella was born in St. Kitts, but she spoke fluent French and she too was working in Guadeloupe at a bank. The young couple actually built a house there, but, unfortunately, Cecil contracted malaria and before they could move in to their new home, they had to return to Barbados.
Upon their return, Cecil worked as Chief Field Officer, assisting with the development of new strains of the sugar cane plant. Auntie Gloria remembers living in one of the apartments that made up the Married Women’s Quarters located along a road that ran behind where the Barbados Museum now stands.
The family later moved to “Woodside”, a beautifully appointed house with spacious grounds. According to his daughter, Cecil was very particular about his work uniform. This consisted of a pair of brown shoes which he polished every day after work, long socks, khaki shorts, a white shirt and a broad brimmed white hat! She pictures him in his uniform leaving for work in the family car, an Overland. Cecil was a very quiet man who loved to read, unlike Kelly, his brother, who was very active in sports, especially football, music and acting in plays.
Kenneth Roy Cromartie Foster (1895 – )
Roy Foster Remembered
In the early years Roy showed an interest in sport and was a keen footballer. Unfortunately, a cycling accident when he was very young caused an injury to his left leg resulting in a permanent limp. Despite this, he later developed considerably skill at lawn tennis – his back hand was said to be unreturnable!
As a young adult he immigrated to America with my aunt Leila where they were married. They did not, however, remain for any length of time in the US and soon returned to Barbados.
He joined the staff of R.M. Jones & Company, eventually becoming a director of the firm where he worked until retirement.
Roy and Leila had no children. However, I lived with them from infancy and was raised as their own. Known always to me as Fossie, Roy was passionately fond of music. He had a pleasing light tenor voice and played the violin, being largely self-taught. Some of my earliest memories are of musical family gatherings where my Aunt Vi, who played and taught the piano, would accompany in performances of songs and instrumental music (Leila also played the guitar). They were fond of late Victorian and Edwardian ballads which were still popular at the time.
Roy’s abiding passion – much more than a hobby – was his collection of gramophone records which continued to grow over the years. He was always changing and upgrading speakers, amplifiers, etc, with the latest equipment. On arriving home after work he would have his ‘tea’, then put on a stack of records- automatic coupling was the latest thing then – and listen quietly while reclining in his favourite armchair, until supper, after which he would turn the records over and continue to listen until bedtime. Thus it was that I grew up being exposed to great orchestras, conductors and soloists. So important was it to him that his listening would not be interrupted, he would not allow a telephone anywhere in the house! To this day it is a mystery to me how, as a businessman, he got away with this even in those more relaxed times!
The impression should not be gained that Roy was in any way a recluse. He did have a social life and in his younger days, as a keen member of Summerhayes Tennis Club, his circle of friends included the Gale family (Val and Louis) and others.
He was an avid reader, owning a comprehensive collection of books, fiction and non-fiction. I remember in the days before I learned to read fluently, his reading aloud to me the Iliad, not a children’s version, but an English translation of the original Greek. It is not surprising therefore that I enjoy reading as much as I do. He had a great influence on me growing up and I regarded him as a loving and caring father. I am forever grateful that through him I was afforded the opportunity to study music in London.
Roy was not a religious man in the formal sense as he did not adhere to any prescribed dogma. Throughout his life he gave help to others anonymously, often unknown to the individual recipients themselves. His core values were simple: Love is better than hate, forgiveness and mercy are better than vengeance, and tolerance is better than prejudice and bigotry. In life we should strive to follow the golden rule in all our dealings with each other – not for hope of reward but simply because of our common humanity.
Annie Kathleen Foster (1896 – 1975)
Annie Kathleen Foster was born on the 27th, October, 1896. She was one of two of the Foster girls that attended Queen’s College. She is listed as a student there in 1912. A note in the school register states the she had previously attended a private school for three years. Her address was c/o Mr. Foster, Military Prison, St. Ann’s, Garrison.
Kathleen married C.L. Abrams who was a magistrate. They lived in Strathclyde. When her younger sister, Eileen, died of cancer, the Abrams looked after her daughter, Ruth. The Abrams had no children of their own.
Kathleen was buried in Westbury Cemetery on August 12th, 1975. She was 78 years old. Her address at the time of her death was Garden Gap, Worthing, Christ Church.
Gladys May Foster (1899 – 1899)
Gladys May died as an infant
Constance Eileen Foster ( 1901- )
Constance Eileen was born on the 21st of February 1901. She was one of the Fosters who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1920’s. She married Percy Reece and they had a son who died as an infant, and a daughter, Ruth. When Eileen and Percy divorced, mother and daughter returned to Barbados. Uncle Geoffrey remembers Ruth living with Winnie at Pavillion Court (1940’s). This might indicate that Eileen was still alive at that time. However, when Eileen died, Ruth lived with Kathleen before she returned to the U.S to live with her father.
Donald Vere Foster (1902 – 1982)
Donald was born in Barbados (26-04-1902) where he worked as a wireless operator before emigrating to the U.S.A. in the early 1920’s.
The following paragraphs are taken from a letter, written to Barrie by his daughter, Phyllis.
“I remember a visit to our home (in New York) by Grandma Foster (Constance) and Aunt Winnie. My father talked about this visit often because the highlight was obtaining tickets to Yehudi Menuhin in concert. They were able to see him perform close up as they were given seats on the stage because the house was full. This event was quite a thrill, as my father loved the violin. After my mother died in 1981, Dad returned to his violin.
In 1963 my parents visited Barbados; my father’s only visit since coming to America. This trip was in quest of getting a copy of his original birth certificate. There was a discrepancy in the date, and he was in need of the right info for retirement purposes. I know he saw his sister, Kathleen, at that time as I have some photos of that visit.”
Elsie Collin ( 1905 – 1962)
Elsie was the baby of the family. She was born on the 12th of October 1905. In 1920, she was in Form IIIB at Queen’s College. She had previously been educated at Miss Ellis’ school which she attended for two years. Her address in 1920, according to the Queen’s College register, was Edlaville in Chelsea Road. Edlaville was the Weatherhead family home at the time, so after Walter Reynold’s death in 1915, Constance must have moved there with her younger children, Eileen, Donald Vere and Elsie.
Elsie married Donald Connor. Unfortunately, I have not been able to learn very much about her life, although Emily did send me information on her death. She died on December 20, 1962, and is buried in South Dover Cemetery, Wingdale, New York.
Certainly, by the early 1920’s, many of Walter Reynold’s and Constance’s children had immigrated to the New York area to make better lives for themselves. The difficulty and hardships that they endured in search of the American dream can be imagined as we read through some of their profiles. There is, however, a sense of strong family bonding that kept the Fosters close together. Vivien, Walter Neville (and his son, Vere), Donald Vere and Elsie made their homes in NY, and raised their families there. Eileen and Roy returned to Barbados; Eileen because she and her husband were divorced, Roy because he and his wife, Leila (nee Spencer), chose not to stay.
Of those that remained in Barbados, Arthur Reynold (“Kelly”) married Annie Waite a year after he left Harrison College and entered the Civil Service. Cecil, after working in Guadeloupe, returned home to continue his career in agriculture. Kathleen became Mrs. C.L. Abrams and Winnie remained a spinster all her life. Constance lived with Winnie in Hastings until she died in 1938. Her address at the time of her death was “Beach Gate”, Hastings.
Constance Foster (nee Leacock)
The Foster Girls
Back Row (left – right):
Elsie Foster, May Stephens (nee Arnold), Winnie Foster, Robert Arnold (May’s brother).
Front Row (left – right):
Mrs. Arnold (mother of May and Robert above also of Stella Arnold who married Cecil Foster)
Kathleen Foster (who married C. L. Abrams)
Constance Foster (nee Leacock) mother of Elsie, Winnie and Kathleen.
Note: This is part 3 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.
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.
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.