Thursday, 28 February 2013

Legacies of British Slave Ownership project

Yesterday, the University of Central London in England unveiled the results of a mighty project  - The Legacies of British Slave Ownership. The website is an amazing piece of work and well worth a look. The Encyclopedia of British Slave Ownership is part of the project

Slave owners could apply for compensation for loss of their "assets" when slavery was finally abolished in the British West Indies in 1833. The encyclopedia is made up from the applications to the Slave Compensation Commission from anyone who owned slaves (from a single slave to hundreds). Twenty million pounds was allocated by the British Government, all of which went to the owners rather than to the slaves themselves. The "freed" slaves were often tied to their former masters as indentured servants or "apprentices" for a period of years until they obtained their full freedom.

In the online search for the UCL website, I have found a William Fitzhenry, who owned 3 slaves in the parish Port Royal, Jamaica. He was awarded £63 16s 1d, and this claim was uncontested.
At present I know nothing more about this man, or the slaves.

I am indebted to Mr Ernest Wiltshire who has transcribed information from this book:

"The West Indies in 1837; being the Journal of a Visit to Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Jamaica; undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining the actual condition of the negro population of those islands" by Joseph Sturge & Thomas Harvey, London, Hamilton, Adams & Co. 1838. 

and posted it on this webpage. At the bottom of the page, is an entry for the parish St Thomas in the East, where Sir Henry Fitzhenry owned an estate named Grange Hill near Manchineal Bay. It suggests that there were at least 2 apprentices on the estate (4 years after slavery was abolished), a James Purton and a Louisa Burton, a cotton picker.

If anyone has any more information about William and Henry Fitzhenry (were they related?), please drop me an email here at the blog.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

In memoriam: Evelyn Fitzhenry of Fleet, Hampshire

We send our sympathies to Jim Fitzhenry of Fleet in Hampshire, an old friend of the Blog, on the recent death of his dear wife Evelyn. Jim and Evelyn were married in South Africa 62 years ago, and returned to England 14 years ago. Their daughter Helen and her family still live in South Africa.

Jim would also like to thank the staff of the nursing home who took such good care of Evelyn in her last years.

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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fitzhenry family from County Mayo

After the publication of my article on the Ancestry blog, I was dead chuffed to get an email from Peter Fitzhenry who lives in Somerset, but whose family came originally from County Mayo via Wigan and Staffordshire. 

I already had Peter's family in the database as family group number 73, and was delighted when he then volunteered to participate in the Fitzhenry/Fitzharris DNA study.*

Although we haven't positively identified the family back in Ireland, we know that they came from "County Mayho" from their entry in the 1881 census when James Fitzhenry (aged 33, a coalminer) and his wife Bridget (aged 32) were living at 9 Walsh's Yard, Scholes Street, Wigan. 
They had 7 children that we know of Martin (born 1870) Bridget  (1873), James (1875), Mary Ellen (1876), Edward (1878), Thomas (1880) and Joseph (1882).
There may also be an eighth child, a daughter called May. In the 1881 census she is listed as May Kenny, daughter, aged 19, married, cotton operative. However May does not appear with James and Bridget in the 1871 census, and May's age in 1881 would mean that Bridget was only 13 when May was born. I suspect May was a boarder and the census enumerator mistook the word "boarder" for "daughter".

Peter would be delighted to hear from anyone descended from this family, and you can send him an email through the Blog.

* Peter's is the third DNA test we have done over this winter. We would also like to welcome Jim Fitzharris from County Carlow (our first Fitzharris man to test!) and another Peter Fitzhenry from Australia, who is a descendent of Lesley Champion's Fitzhenry family. We welcome all of them, and are looking forward to the results over the next couple of months.

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