Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
Continued from Trelawny 12
See History of Trelawny list
Mr. Leicester Colville Shirley was an Englishman. Born in the year 1836, he came to this country in the year 1856, at the age of 20, to assume control of the affairs and estate of his elder brother, Henry, who died under tragic circumstances at Spanish Town, where he was serving as a Representative of this Parish in the House of Assembly.
The first public notice we have of Mr. Leicester C. Shirley was when he was appointed by Sir John Peter Grant, Governor, as a member of the Municipal Board of Trelawny on the 1st January, 1870, along with six other gentlemen, headed by the Honourable Robert Nunes. Mr. Shirley was a most likeable man. His stature was imposing, he being over six feet, and his body in proportion. No superfluous fat or flabbyness. He had a military gait and his deportment synchronized with his lofty character. He was a most approachable man and gave everyone with who he came in contact a pleasant smile. His presence at meetings conferred a singular dignity and charm to the proceedings. His refined accomplishments produced a marvelous attachment and enchantment on those who secured his friendship. Indulgence, kindness and generosity were his peculiar attributes and which were dispensed without parade or ostentation. Mr. Shirley identified himself with every movement calculated to uplift our people and enhance the welfare of Trelawny. He was at one time Colonel of the Trelawny Militia and right well did he display military discipline and training with great sympathy and consideration to his subordinates. His uniform courtesy to the rank and file won for him the respect and esteem of all his men. He was no mere ornament but one who applied diligence with wisdom in his public performances.
Mr. Shirley was appointed to the Municipal Board by Mr. John Peter Grant, Governor, on the 8th. January, 1870. As the first Chairman of the newly constituted Parochial Board of Trelawny in the year 1885 under Sir Henry Norman. We understand he was a graduate from Lincoln's Inn. At the inaugural meeting of the Parochial Board on the 1st October, 1885, which was held in the Falmouth Town Hall, in addressing the members, Mr. Shirley is reported to have said: "Gentlemen, fellow parishioners, we have been honoured by the Government of this Colony with the task of administering the affairs of this Municipal Board, and so we are called upon to address ourselves to a task which indeed demands the best energies of the best among us and I do believe, with great humility, we will not be found wanting or unworthy in our responsibilities if they are even beset with unpredictable difficulties. The honoured men preceding us have by laying a sure foundation, bequeathed a legacy of which we are the proud inheritors. Without gainsaying, new and colossal problems may from time to time arise, but I am confident, I am certain that with grit and determination, successful issues will crown our efforts. Our thoughts and actions should be devoted and applied in seeing that the administration of each of the various departments in this municipality is conducted with energy and stamped with honesty, wisdom and virtue, redounding to the happiness and contentment of our people. Interwoven in our thoughts must be a love of service, even at a sacrifice to achieve our goal. Your individual and united support is the main pillar on which I rely for every achievement contemplated in making this Parish a happier and more progressive place than we found it. It is not a parade of words that we hope to further the interests of Trelawny Parish, but a display of enthusiastic interest never waning but developing continued freshness as the years go by. And now gentlemen we take a forward march. I pledge to do my part and rely on your cooperation." (Applause).
Mr. Shirley remained as Chairman of the Board until the year 1903, when he resigned in disgust in consequence of the conduct of an irracible Medico who was a member of the Board. Despite pleadings and expressions of appreciation of his services Mr. Shirley refused to give favourable consideration and resile from his decision. The repeated insults hurled by this member created an atmosphere nauseating to the finer feelings of Mr. Shirley and others of his class.
He was a celebate, a fact which he lamented in his late years. He at one time owned Hyde Hall, Steelfield, Glamorgan (where he resided), and Etingdon. There were all lost to him before his demise. He was befriended to the last by his God-son, Mr. Percy Sewell. He died on the 21st October, 1914, at the age of 78, and his mortal remains interred at St. Michael's Church at Clarke's Town. His passing was regretted by all who knew him and the multitude which attended his funeral was a silent but demonstrable testimony of the love and esteem they bore.
We who knew him have penned this unvarnished and faithful eulogy to one who we admired and respected.
It was in the year 1837, that the first steamship arrived in Jamaica. Her name was the "City of Kingston". It was this ship arriving in the Island during the month of October, 1837, that brought to us the news of the death of William the Fourth, which occurred on the 20th. Day of June, 1837, and that Victoria had been crowned Queen of the British Empire. It was on this ship that, among others, two men came from England to seek their fortunes in this Island. They were around 20 years of age. Conrad, a young Bell-ringer from a district in Cornwall and the other William, a Cockney. They came consigned to Colonel Neil Malcolm at Knockalva in the Parish of Hanover, as Bookkeepers. They were not there for many months before they went native.... Conrad's indulgencies, however, were sub rosa, but poor William's wild oats had flowered into a baby boy and such an event could not be kept a secret for very long. It reached the "Backra House", and to the ears of the good old Colonel, a pious man and a good Churchman of the Established Church.... He was wild at this departure from the parts of rectitude by his countryman, William. ... A summons was directed and as usual arrived in his breakfast tray... This is my dismissal, opined William; however it ran thus: "Mr. William S. ...is required to attend at the great house at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning for an interview". The morning and hour arrived and with much trepidation and nervousness William arrived at the seat of the bar to hear and defend himself. With very little preliminaries, the old Colonel charged: "Mr. S...sir, I have heard some very bad news of your behavior on my estate . . . your behavior is to me most reprehensible . . . you have lowered your dignity and that of an Englishman by consorting with a slave woman and also given her a child . . . You must now either marry or leave, and I desire a peremptory reply". Mr. S... was a short and stubby man in his stature and so was his temper. "I will leave now sir:. His pay was given him and to the Barracks he went and while packing his tags, Conrad, who was anxious to know what it was all about, enquired and on being told of the interview and its result, asked William where he was leaving for. "I am going to Trelawny where I understand conditions are more flexible and the strictures not so pious and exacting". "I am coming with you, William," replied Conrad, and they both tramped it on to the Parish of Trelawny - the Eldorado in those days. At times they hitched hiked on passing wains, until their goal was reached. They obtained employment on sugar estates at 27/- per week and found grub and quarters. Conrad remained at Hampstead Estate and William, not satisfied with the life and conditions as a Bookkeeper, left and found himself in the Duncans district. William, the Cockney, was inspired to go into the Provision and liquor business and, along with his common-law wife secured a site at Prospect. He was making a living and being of humble origin, his necessities were not extravagant. He was his own boss, and was able to live his life as he cared. With them was their two-year-old son. He was satisfied with the progress he was making. Fortune has a peculiar way, however, in coming your way when it is least expected. Emancipation of slaves had taken place in Jamaica in the year 1838 and the Colony's economy was in a state of flux. The Sugar estates were gradually being abandoned as such and the absentee proprietors were anxious to dispose of their holdings before a greater crash eventuated. It was the year 1839 that an Englishman arrived in the Duncans area representing one of these estates on behalf of the heirs of Thomas P. Thompson & Sons. On enquiry in the area for a white man, he was directed to Mr. William S..., the humble shopkeeper. They met and with the usual salutations and a few drinks from the reserves of Mr. William S... that the question of the mission of Mr. Luck was referred to. I have come to dispose of my firm's Sugar estate not far from you here. William, why do you not chance it? Ha, ha, said William, "all that have in this world is my good negress woman and a boy child in this little shop." Oh my, said the other. I will let you have it for £4,000 on Mortgage at one per cent interest.
Mr. William S ... was amazed at the advantageous terms but hesitated to discover by continued conversation, if the offer was genuine or a joke. Mr. Luck, before leaving that evening, reminded his friend of his offer . . . I will let you hear from me on your visit tomorrow. . . That night was a bad one for William . . .is it nightmare or is it real. He had to talk the matter over with his common-law wife to get some rest. In her own language she conveyed to him that he had little to lose by the venture, but a Sugar Estate to gain if he had the grit. He had. Next day Mr. Luck arrived, the deal was sealed over Jamaica rum. Confirmation of the firm's endorsement, in due course arrived. William, however, was aware that plenipotentiary powers were given to Mr. Luck. No time was lost by Mr. W. S., he took charge of his estate and with the experience previously gained in Hanover in the management of an estate and labour (which at the time was very ticklish) in a few years, with favourable price of Sugar and rum frugality and industry he was able to liquidate the Mortgage and bought other properties.
This sounds like fiction, but the above are based on facts, gleaned substantially from a son of Conrad Wilson who came to this Island with William S . . . Mr. W. S. had reached such a financial position that he was able to lend the Justices and Vestry money to carry on the Parish's business. In 1854, the Justices and Vestry, being broke, advertised for Tenders for Loan to the Parish of £2,500, for five years, at 6 per cent. Mr. William S. was among the other two whose tender was accepted. This worthy became a Justice of the Peace and received other local distinctions.
As already been stated, he had a son who we will call Henry. He was sent to the local school and showed some promise. This fact was pointed out to his father by Mr. Archambeau, the Overseer (who, by the way, was the first to receive his sack when Henry got into the saddle). Mr. William accepted the advice of this Overseer, and this young blood was dispatched to Glenrose College in England. He was boon companion with three other young men of similar social and financial status. He was away for about 3 years and on his return to Jamaica his father died, leaving Henry his heir and Executor - the only string to absolute power was that his old black mother should receive £5 each week from the estate for her maintenance for life. Henry, after having the legal side to his inheritance settled, went back to England. My informant continuing, told me that this young blood leased Steep Hill Castle in the Isle of Wight for a period he did not remember for £50,000, and gave a Picnic for one day costing £10,000 at which all the notables were present. He was possessed of wealth and riches and favoured by nature with good looks. He got married to a lady of distinction and very respectable connections. He made repeated trips home in his own barque. He and his family wintered in Jamaica . . . times passed by. . . he had three sons and three daughters . . . to the best schools in England his children had to be sent . . . three days races on the Cave Island Race Track in Falmouth with imported English horses . . . great liberality . . . lots of friends . . . price for Sugar and Rum fluctuating disadvantageously . . . Bank overdrafts called a halt . . . liquidation . . . his one-time Book-keeper from England promoted as Overseer became liquidator. Mr. Hops was a keen financier. His boss was now under his thumb. Whenever Mr. Henry wanted funds he had to apply to Mr. Hops and wait on him. He had previously settled some funds on his family who, when Mr. Henry was broke his application to them for funds was never granted . . . you have squandered your money father. We are holding ours . . . time passes on . . . Mr. Hops was by his good and careful management, able to satisfy the Bank and ultimately regained freedom from indebtedness . . . Mr. Henry had been bitten and the sting had a salutary effect. He became more frugal and with age creeping on, abandoned his sporting proclivities . . . His mother lived on for many years, drawing her £5 per week, but which was never spent. She reared her poultry and other domestic animals on a small farm nearby, the proceeds from which were sufficient to satisfy her daily wants. One of the three grand-daughters was very much attached to her. One day she confided to her old Grandmother that she was about to get married but that her father and mother objected to her match, for the reason that he was only a Purser on a ship. Do you love him, daughter? said the old woman - "Yes, Grannie, I do love him". "Then marry him my love." She did, and received all her Grandmother's savings amounting to over £1,500.
Mr. Henry S. died when he was about 70 years of age. He was very much liked in the Parish. His children all turned out to be credit to him. One son was an Army Officer, one a Barrister at Law and the other a Naval Officer. His daughters were all happily married, and lived abroad except Mrs. King, who resides here in Jamaica.
Mr. John Anderson, an English Physician, was appointed Surgeon to the Parochial Institutions in October, 1842, is succession to Dr. Robert Neilson, deceased. His duties included services at the Marine Hospital and attendance on the paupers. He lived at Orange Valley. He died in the year 1846, and the following Resolution was passed by the Justices and Vestry: resolved that the condolence of the Vestry be sent to the widow of Dr. John Anderson on his death expressing its high opinion of his character as a member of the Board and in his professional character in the respective offices which he held. We write more so to introduce his son who became a celebrity in consequence of his pride and affection.
Mr. Anderson had two children viz., Frederick Gilchrist Anderson and Elizabeth Anderson, who became Mrs. Chambers by marriage. Mr. Frederick was at school in England when his father died. He returned and inherited Fontabelle Sugar Estate in Trelawny which is about 10 miles from Falmouth. This gentleman was polished, had a classical education, but these qualifications were never usefully employed. He was a six footer with a handsome physique, more of the ballroom type. His hands were never intended for toil . . . his carriage was militarily erect. He never had a stoop to the day of his death. He was known as Justice Anderson. As has been said, he came in for Fontabelle estate resided there. He was married and had one son and two daughters. Justice Anderson was a great reader and was profoundly fond of the bottle and the dance floor. He had his carriage drawn by three horses and a liveried coachman all spick and span. He thought it infra dig to visit the Sugar Factory. This was left entirely to his employees and we may say at their disposal. His supervision was by the use of a Binocular. He made frequent visits to Falmouth and his greatest friend was Custos Robert Nunes, from whose stock of Champagne, Whisky and the most expensive drinks were supplied. There was no remonstrance as to cost, it would be paid for. He point-blank refused to shake the hands of any one who was not white. By this supercilious arrogance, he suffered in his days of distress. Folks kept from his society. We have seen him begging tobacco from Policemen and other humble citizens, and shaking hands with them. Justice told me that he had no compunction in remitting his ten guineas contribution to a Dance in any part of the Island. He never checked his Bank account . . . the Bank, however, did . . . and one day he was called upon to liquidate his Mortgage on Fontabelle. The price for Sugar had fallen and Fontabelle was not such an estate to retrieve . . . it was operated by Water and when there was not sufficient water it stalled . . . The expenses still went on and Justice had no friend willing and capable of extricating him from the rut . . . He was cleared off the estate. Before he left he told me one of his headmen said to him "Squire, if they did not want so much for Fontabelle, I would buy it". He had made more out of Fontabelle by the illicit sale of rum and sugar, than the owner did. Justice removed to Falmouth and lived in his sister's house in George Street . . . he was penniless. His son left him for England where he studied Engineering but never returned to Jamaica and seldom ever wrote to his father. His wife and two daughters resided with this penniless gentleman. No one sympathized with him; however, there were a few charitable souls on the Municipal Board who thought rather than making him a pauper a job should be found for him. Well, he was appointed as Sanitary Inspector for the Town of Falmouth (please note that the position 65 years ago was not as important and respectable as it is today). His salary was £36 per annum. The duties performed by this gentleman were most inefficiently done. How could it be otherwise . . . what a fall. This was a measure of chastisement.
He became quite a celebrity in Falmouth where practical jokes were frequently played on him. He would go into the Medical Hall, dip his hand in the Sugar barrel and fill his toothless mouth with sugar. No one wished to insult him. The Druggist in charge had to do something to checkmate this unpleasant practice. Next day a barrel of Epsom Salts was substituted for the white sugar. Justice, as usual, sat on the barrel, dipped in his hand, and with his hand full of salt, dashed it into his mouth . . . Spitting, spitting. Oh Josephs, why did you do me a thing like this? They all appeared serious and declared that it was unintentional. Weeks passed when he began patronizing the biscuits in the barrel. A Saw teeth rattrap was set. In his absentmindedness, Justice dipped his hand in the barrel to fill his pocket . . . the rattrap caught his hand. The usual exclamation again . . . He would every day stroll into Dr.Vine's apartment and help himself to Whisky. It became too regular. Dr. V. called in Tooksie Adams, a painter, and directed that the Liquor case be marked "Poison". Next morning Justice came to lubricate his larynx, saw the sign, made a right about turn and never returned to the Medico's liquor.
These are only a little of his exploits and the reaction - pages could be written of an amusing nature but we do not propose too much painting.
He was very much used by the Merchants in signing documents as they were certain he would neither read nor communicate the contents to anyone else . . . they, however, paid for it in gifts. His pockets were always stocked with sundry articles, pipes, tobacco and such like articles. He talked very little, never joined in discussions. As we sat in office together, I found great pleasure in listening to him often reciting Shakespeare, Milton or some other of the great classic authors in his soft, cultured voice. "Oh, I wish," he often repeated, "that I could live my life over." It was, however, too late. Fortune came and was dismissed while misfortune entered and took charge. Justice Anderson was called upon to retire from the position of Inspector of Nuisances in 1927 or thereabouts, without a pension or gratuity and went to live with some connections of his in Westmoreland, where he died. He leaves no survivor, therefore this will cause no pain to anyone. This short biography is written more of an object lesson on the text "He humbleth the proud", and recall Knott's lines which were President Lincoln's favourite:
Why should the spirit of mortal be proud,
Like a swift fleeting meteor a fast flying cloud,
A flash of lightning, a dash of a wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade
Be scatter around and together be laid,
And the young and the old and the low and the high
Shall moulder to dust and together shall lie.
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