I spent my first 15 years on the West Indian island of Jamaica. Those were the years 1940 through 1955. My time there ended just about 300 years after the island had come under British
rule and about seven years before Jamaica achieved full independence from the United Kingdom.
My family roots go deep into Jamaica’s past, with the residency of one branch possibly predating the English conquest in 1655—that being the Jewish line of my paternal great-grandmother, Ida Julia Brandon.
When I began to trace my roots, I decided to concentrate on identifying as many second cousins as I could. So this gave me eight core Jamaican family names on which to concentrate: Campbell, Brandon, Ramsey, Bogle, Reynolds, Binns, Stephenson and Nash. These, of course, are the surnames of my great-grandparents.
I’ll have more to say about these families as we go along, but first I’ll begin with a summary of my dad’s family to start us on our journey.
Generally speaking, family research predominantly follows male lines as these are more easily tracked through government records and are the names that usually survive throughout a person’s lifetime. For me, that meant finding my earliest Campbell ancestor. He turned out to be Alexander Campbell of Scotland and Jamaica. He was my Great, Great, Great Grandfather. My Great, Great, Great Grandmother was Marie Louise Sabate who was born in St. Dominique (Haiti).
My Campbell line to the present day
I descend from Donald Binnie Campbell (b. 1825 d. 1855), the youngest of Alexander’s and Maria’s children.
1. Alexander Campbell (abt. 1770-1826) and Maria Louisa Sabate, Jamaica, W.I. A
2. Donald Binnie Campbell (1825-1855) and Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman, Jamaica, W.I.
3. Alexander James Campbell (1848-1917) and Ida Julia Brandon, Jamaica, W.I.
4. Donald Harcourt Campbell (1883-1974) and Albertha Ambrosine Ramsey, Jamaica, W.I.
5. Clinton Garth Campbell (1913-1999) and Florence Agnes Reynolds, Jamaica, W.I.
6. Russell Garth Campbell (1940- ) and Denise Ann Bewley, Birmingham, England, UK.
Alexander Campbell & Marie Louise Sabate
Alexander Campbell was likely from the Greenock/Glasgow area of Scotland. His mother was Agnes McKinlay who lived at Glasgow at the time of Alexander’s death in 1826. He died at sea
on the ship Glasgow while returning home to Jamaica, to which he had immigrated several years earlier. Though not officially documented, I believe Alexander was closely related to May/Marjory who may have
married Thomas Crawford (his 2nd marriage). May and Thomas lived at Collander and Greenock in Scotland and had four children: Mary, Agnew, Arabella and May—these names are mentioned in Alexander’s will.
Alexander was inter alia the owner of Robin’s Hall, in Manchester, Jamaica and Turnsbull Pen, in St Catherine, Jamaica, estates which he left in trust to Marie Louise Sabate (later Darling) as guardian of their children, including their infant son Donald Binnie Campbell (1825-1855), my 2nd great-grandfather. Alexander never met this son of his since baby Donald was born during Alexander’s last trip overseas. He also left legacies to his other surviving children.
Though most of his estate was left to Marie Louise Sabate and his children in Jamaica, Alexander also left legacies to Misses Arabella and Marion Crawford, both of whom lived in Scotland. Their brother Agnew Crawford was named as one of the executors of Alexander’s will. Alexander’s will gave no indication as to the nature of his relationship with the Crawfords, but they probably were close relatives for their mother’s maiden name was Campbell and, from a Canadian source, I heard speculation—based on an 1814 letter from a George Campbell to Agnew Crawford—that George Campbell was Agnew’s cousin.
And that’s about all I know of my Scottish connection, at least as far as traditional genealogy goes. I have, though, had my DNA tested and used to connect to deeper roots in that country. The results are intriguing, but more about that at another time.
Maria Louise Darling née Sabate was a refugee of war from the island now known as Haiti. She was born abt. 1780 at St. Dominique and, apparently, immigrated to Jamaica as a refugee. By all indications, she was
an educated and cultured woman who spoke both French and English. She was, apparently, Alexander’s “housekeeper” as common-law wives in Jamaica were often called in those days.
Marie Louise bore 11 children to four partners, including 5 with Alexander: Agnes, Alexander, John, Jane and Donald. They all had the surname, Campbell. She, apparently, became a person of some personal wealth.
She married for the 1st time her last known partner, Robert Darling, on 8 Sep. 1836 when she was 52 years old. We believe she died in 1851 as a woman of substantial property, leaving in her will jewellery, chaise and carriage, livestock, furniture and other household items. Maria Louise also owned or had an interest in a tavern called the Ferry Inn, which is mentioned in her will. (I have a copy of her will, but it is difficult to read due to age, ink “bleeding”, etc.)
Robert Darling was a magistrate in St Catherine, Jamaica and the proprietor of several properties. At the time of Robert’s death in 1854, he lived at Malton Plantation, Manchester, Jamaica.
Marie Louise and Darling had at one time in 1838 several properties and over 500 apprentices working for them on two properties. Darling had several other business interests including banking and providing meat to the navy.
According to the Jamaica Almanac (1833), Marie Louise Sabate had been listed as proprietor of Turnbull estate in St Catherine, with 35 enslaved persons and 101 stock. She was also listed as a beneficiary of compensation for enslaved persons on Robin’s Hall estate, Manchester, Jamaica, and Turnsbull Pen, St Catherine, Jamaica, as guardian of her son Alexander Campbell, jr when slavery ended. (About 4,000 British slave owners were compensated by the British government in 1833 for the emancipation of their slaves.)
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