|Letter: Ancestry - A follow-up|
|Published on July 28, 2014||
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To: Peter Binose
By the way, a belated thank you for your support and encouragement since I first appeared on this site.
With regard to the “difficulties of our black brethren’s family history,” I agree with your comment but, unlike those who give up too easily, difficulties do not usually dissuade me.
Are you familiar with the Ashton Warner Case? If not, go to the following site for an interesting read on the many surprising emanations of slavery that confronted Ashton in St Vincent and the Grenadines when he sought to extricate himself from an unjust and confusing imposition of slavery. This ridiculous event all happened after Abolition but before Emancipation: see http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/warner/warner.html.
The social issues on the matter of surnames, are vividly illustrated in that document. It would seem that, in those days, slave women did not have the privilege of a surname; hence, the surnames of Ashton’s mother (Margaret) and his aunt, Daphne, are not given. Their surname might have been Baptiste since their brother’s name was John Baptiste. This leaves the door open to the possibility that, as slaves, the family might have taken the surname of a former French plantation owner as their own. (Perhaps that name provides a portal toward uncovering the mystery of the prevalence of that name in the issuance of land grants, around the turn of the 20th century, to a number of Baptistes in the York Mountain above and on the banks of the York River valley flowing through Campden Park to the sea. Names, ending with Baptiste, such as John, Douglas, James, Gabrielle, Richard, Company Baptiste are spread all over the map of land ownership in that area.)
Back to the point! Daphne had a long term relationship with a rather surprisingly well-to-do ‘coloured’ man by the name of Dennis Crosbie. In following up that surname, I discovered that a James Crosby was not a large plantation owner but he owned a few slaves in SVG and was later compensated for a few of them. If we assume that the change in spelling, from Crosby to Crosbie, could be the result of unfamiliarity (on the part of an uneducated mistress and her son) with the original spelling of the name, the question could be asked: was a ‘free’, well-to-do Dennis Crosbie the ‘coloured’ son of James Crosby? Nevertheless, as a result of this relationship and because of her having been manumitted earlier, Daphne became a free woman, which seems to have entitled her to a surname. Although they were not legally married, she took the surname Crosbie as her own. (Note that all of this is going on during the confusing historical heyday of slavery in St Vincent that has not been studied.)
In 1821, Daphne paid to have five people, including her brother (John Baptiste), sister (Margaret), and nephew (Ashton), manumitted. The other two freed slaves were called Plassey and Archibald, parents of Daphne, Margaret, and John Baptiste, according to Ashton. Based on the narrative, we have no clear idea of who Ashton’s father might have been; he refers to the man in Margaret’s life as her ‘husband’ but he does not call that individual his ‘father.’ Somehow, Ashton was baptized with the surname Warner but we have no way of precisely determining how he arrived at that name.
Did Margaret, like Daphne, simply take the name of the man that impregnated her and did she baptize her son using that name? Could it be that, in a system that did not force the fathers to acknowledge their children, women attempted to impose legitimacy for themselves and their offspring by simply claiming their paramour’s name? Could it be that one Charles Warner, before buying into the Estate in Bequia, (he was, within eight years, half owner, with the three Scott brothers, of the Bequia Spring Estate) had earlier worked on the Cane Grove Estate, as manager, at the time that Margaret and the rest of the Baptiste family were still slaves? Did Charles Warner do a little dipping of his wick in Margaret’s pot? This is the type of interesting byways that historians have to dig through sometimes, just to get to solve a difficult puzzle.
Based on the above, I hope you will accept that I have no desire to ‘claim superiority by way of lineage’ but when I suspect something and need to resolve a nagging suspicion, the thought of the thing does ‘drive me (a bit) mad’ and, I must admit, when I get mad, I also pursue my quarry indefatigably. In that respect, you and I are alike; we do not give in when confronted with difficulties. Actually, (judging by the amount of ferreting that you seem to engage in) I think you are even more persistent than I am and that is why I constantly read and, for the most part, enjoy what you write.
I am also a bit familiar with the black side of the Gonsalves family. Earlier this year, when I was in St Vincent, I had dealings with one of them. This guy, whose name will not be mentioned, was more black complexioned than white. The strange thing is that, when I finally built up the courage to ask him if he was related to the prime minister, this relaxed, very pleasant individual affirmed the connection but, despite his blackness, I could not help noticing the red tinge that appeared from his hairline to his neck. Backing off from me, quietly and slowly, he made it clear, very firmly and politely, that he was not particularly proud of the association. In response, I dropped the subject like a hot potato and, both smiling, we continued on with business.
PS: I tend to think of Pknight as Mr P Knight (the Party Knight, the Political Knight, the Paymaster Knight, the soon to be totally disgraced Preposterous Knight who once bedecked himself in shining armour). But, unlike PKnight I have this habit of ruminating opinions, especially blood-curdling ones such as those propounded, like a madman, by this grandfather of the internet crazies, before responding to them. I want him to spout some more so that, in his all-consuming anger, he might make a few more mistakes. I hope you’re beginning to get my drift.
By the way, over the last two weeks, as a result of one unexpected ‘incident’, I check my smoke detectors religiously every morning before going on the internet. They are doing a marvelous job of keeping the invading fumes out -- so far. But, I certainly have a growing record of the IP addresses from which the destructive smoke is emanating. If it keeps up, someone will have to pay a ridiculous price for cyber snooping. Wade Kojo Williams got away with it once before in the days leading up to the 2000 election. I will not allow it to happen again.
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Thanks for the complementary names like Party Knight, Political Knight, Paymaster Knight, Preposterous Knight and whatever… they certainly wouldn’t ruffle my feathers (feathers have I none)... like I have yours. Maybe you should abandon your “impervious ancestral snooping”, and as a good Dutch boy (sorry! historian), lend some of your gibberish to the happenings in Aruba; I’m sure you will be much safer there, now you’re in league with the Binose’s; there are several you know. Moreover, did you mention the word “mistakes”, as in reference to “what mistakes”?
Anatol Leopold Scott the only mistake here is you and your "uppity prattling". But that’s what I’ve been trying to point out in my “PKnight rebuffs Anatol Leopold Scott,letter”
but I guess you’re too far gone and ashamed to admit that, I like all those who have rebuffed and ignored you in the past and still do, might not have known you were not trying to ‘claim superiority by way of lineage’, and posing as an historian, but you just wanted to be recognized as somebody. You are Anatol! You are!
Listen, there is an old saying that goes like this “If it walks like a Duck, and quacks like a Duck… then it’s Anatol Leopold Scott”… or is it a Jackass? Well, whatever. Fly on back to Aruba, they’re waiting on you to record their history, and stop quacking with miss Binose (yes! miss as in, off target).
Your only true friend, PKnight.
Yeah right...! Anatol, you're simply pathetic. So sorry I couldn't be of further help to you...gotta move on to better things. So long! Hope you finally get the recognition you're trying so hard to achieve.
Dear Anatol thanks for the kind words. Names did change and it usualy came about by officials asking people who did not know how to spell to pronounce their names and the official then spelt the phoenetic pronounciation. It happened everywhere especially in the United States during the immigration of Europeans. Some people who did not have a name, or could not be understood were given a name of what their occupation was or where they lived.
To: Mr. P. Knight
Of course, you have no feathers so I will not attempt to ruffle what you don’t have. However, that simply makes it easier to penetrate your very thin skin.
Actually, I was in Aruba from December 2012 to March 2013. I was almost tempted to make it my winter escape. I wanted to find out how Aruba was faring after the people’s lifeblood since the 1930s, the giant Lago Oil Refinery, was suddenly forced to close its doors in the 1980s as a result of the Venezuelan refusal to sell Lago more raw crude oil. At that time, Aruba was left destitute, most of the people (the foreigners who held the economic power) unceremoniously took their leave. But, the Aruban people and Government did not give up and they did not go begging. In 1985, they launched a massive tourism development project; the type of project that I, in my discussion with Roddy Grant and James Mitchell, wanted to launch in St. Vincent in 1970. Compared to the varied and abundant natural beauty of St. Vincent, except for a few white sand beaches (which are inferior to those in the Grenadines), the little rock that is Aruba has no real natural beauty; truthfully speaking, it is a barren, half desert which could have been left to the beautiful wild donkeys and goats that roamed all over the island when I lived there as a young boy.
To me, it is amazing that that tiny island, with a population of much less than 100,000 souls has managed to create a tourist industry that is the envy of all Caribbean countries. In 2013 over a million and a half people visited it. Their tourism consists of long-term visitors, a large percentage of whom have been returning annually for over 30 years. It is amazing to see 2 or 3 of the largest cruise ships in the world, day after day, disgorging thousands of happy, smiling foreigners on to the splendidly clean island. The most important and telling feature of the Aruban people today is their pride in their island and in their culture (most of them speak a minimum of four European derived languages but their local lingo, papiamento, is spoken by them all). The industry, based on a belief in “service” to the tourists provides them with a standard of living that ranks among the highest in the Caribbean. They have good reason to proclaim that they are “One Happy Island” for they are an abundantly happy people.
I have just “lent some of my (historical) gibberish to the happenings in Aruba; I think that short piece makes your gibberish look very sick. I can also quite easily reclaim my right to citizenship of Aruba. My basic problem is that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, as well as, my mother and my father are all buried at the Lowman’s Hill Cemetery overlooking Campden Park. My sense of Loyalty to them makes me hope that, when my time comes, I too will be buried there. That is my choice and preference and noone, except the Almighty, can deny me that. I agree with you that I “will be much safer” in Aruba but that comment begs the question: are you telling me that I would not be safe if I return to St. Vincent?
Be careful with your threats, Mr. P. Knight. In this regard, you have already made several ‘mistakes.’ Stay posted! Your shock treatment is already on the way!