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Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

What's In your Blood Line? Are We All Cousins?

My first wife hails from part of Britain's landed gentry--although a long way back in the blood line. Among her great back-grandparents was the Earl of Hopetown in Scotland (see a little biography of the titled family and also some Scottish clan history), near the Scottish border country. Her ancestor was one of the earlier sons who decided to 'jack it in' when he realised he was going to inherit nothing. He moved southward from the northern reaches of Scotland, and the family ended up in places like the Isle of Man and then Cumberland. As a result of this lineage, her family uses the name Hope prominently among given names: her father carries it as his middle name with Anderson as his first.

One of the people I met early on in Barbados, who is now a friend, is Anderson Hope, the general manager of Purity Bakery. I believe that in no way is he a blood relative of my ex-wife's family. I don't know the slave-owning lineage in Barbados so cannot say much about whether there is some direct or indirect link to the original Scottish ancestors mentioned above.

My current wife's father carries a prominent British surname, Turner (derived from one who worked with a lathe), but hailing as he does from the Bahamas, he has never set foot on Scottish soil. Yet, he carries the names Selkirk (town in Scotland's border region) and Anderson; he gave those names to the only son he had.

I am not suggesting that in anyway this line of similarities in names is more than a set of occurrence that may be common. We know that the Bajan and Bahamians who carry the Anglophone names had them given probably by a slave owner or plantation overseer. So, let's not get too worked up about "family" names in the region. They are labels tagged on a few hundred years ago, and we may be living with a true cousin because of the confusion created when the colonizers did away with slaves' real names. But, just think about to whom you actually be related.

1 comment:

babooshka said...

Hi I'm the Ramsey Daily Photo Blogger in the Isle of Man. Interesting to see in your post a link to the island and Cumberland. The same is so of Fletcher Christian. Not often Barbados and the Isle of Man has links other than financial.

It's a very small island so there may still be family connections.