My husband’s paternal family tree comes from St. Kitts, a beautiful island in the Caribbean that was a British territory until its independence in 1983. His Kittitian ancestors are an interesting blend of British, French, African, and Madeiran lines. The Madeirans came to St. Kitts and Nevis in the mid-1800s, when a combination of circumstances led to the importation of farm laborers from Madeira to the Caribbean.
Slaves and indentured servants had been used in St. Kitts and Nevis to work the islands’ many sugar cane plantations. Slavery was abolished in the British West Indies in 1834. The slaves, of primarily African descent, were given a four year transition period called an “apprenticeship”, after which full freedom was granted. This presented a labor problem for plantation owners and sugar merchants. An additional reduction of the Kittitian work force resulted from several years of a cholera epidemic, which tended to hit the poorer former slave population.
At about the same time, a series of crises erupted in Madeira, a Portuguese island in the north Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Africa. The Madeirans had experienced a civil war from 1828 to 1834, followed by a devastating potato famine in 1847, known as the “o ana de fome” or “year of hunger”, and finally a series of vine diseases that affected wine production from the 1850s through the 1870s. This led to the emigration of unemployed farm laborers, who looked to the West Indies for employment and a better life.
From 1847 to 1870, about 1,180 Madeirans arrived in St. Kitts. Initially, they did not assimilate with either the white plantation owners or the black laboring class. When their terms of indenture expired however, many remained rather than return to Madeira, often opening small shops in Kittitian towns. They soon became middle class citizens with increased social status.
There are still a number of Madeiran names among the residents of St. Kitts. My husband’s great-great-grandmother was a Cabral, who emigrated to St. Kitts prior to 1868. This Cabral married a planter, and so followed the track of rising status, from hard-working plantation labor to a more privileged and economically comfortable class.
- Caribbean Migrants: Environment and Human Survival on St. Kitts and Nevis, by Bonham C. Richardson (1983) – Google books
- Madeiran Portuguese Migration to Guyana, St. Vincent, Antigua and Trinidad: A Comparative Overview, by Jo-Anne S. Ferreira (2009), Portuguese Studies Review
- The Cabral name and husband’s occupation as planter was found on a microfilm ordered from the Family Search (LDS Church) library: Basseterre (St Kitts) Civil Registration 1859-1932. The information was listed on the 1868 civil birth record for a daughter of Eliza A. Cabral and her husband John Cannonier. The fact that Eliza was from Madeira was passed down to us by her granddaughter (my husband’s grandmother).
Very interesting article. I live in Canada, but my birthplace was St. Kitts. Apparently my great-grandfather was from Madeira, named Francis Barate. Apparently the name may have been changed. I am having difficulty searching backwards, but I hope one day to find the piece that completes that puzzle. Maybe one day I will meet cousins back in Madeira or Portugal. Please check 2 sites on Facebook if you are interested in connecting with Kittitians.: Kittitians with Portuguese ancestry, and St. Kitts and Nevis Genealogy Group.
his name might be Francisco Barata and not Francis Barate, and Barata in portuguese means cockroach
or instead of “barata” it might be “barreto”
My Granma. Elsa Gomes. Or Elsa fraites. Mother Emily from Madeira poutugal. Lived in Newyork and st kitts
Elsa Had a Brother William. Gomes. And Cousin Agie kelsick who still alive in her 90sss in st kitts
Gomes is a name that shows up quite often in St Kitts records. And my husband’s godfather was a Kelsick 🙂
Thanks for the Facebook group info – I have joined!
My grandfather Frederick Hart (1883) and his three sisters were born in St. Kitts-Nevis. His father’s name was Fountain Hart and the four children between them had two birth mothers whose first names were Carolina and Charlotte (possibly Carlotta). Fountain did not marry either of the two sisters who are reputed to have been from Madeira. Both sisters married “freed black men” and apparently left St K-N with their husband’s. My grandfather had a cousin named Sir Clement Malone also born in 1883 and the Malo e’s were connected to other families named Cranstoun, Semper and Berkeley. Any info would be appreciated. Or resources so my cousin and I can search.
There are a few good places to start. One is a website that has quite a lot of information on the Cranstoun, Semper, and Malone families: http://cranstoun-family.com/index.html
Also, there are two facebook pages with lots of people willing to help: “st kitts and nevis genealogy group” and “kittitians with portuguese ancestry”.
Finally, a great source for family information is the microfilms that can be ordered from familysearch.org.
BTW, my husband has relatives (by marriage) who are Malones and Sempers.
Hello, Clement Malone was my great uncle. One of his brothers, Reginald Hampstead Malone was my grandfather. I have traced family connections to Cranstoun, Hampstead and Hart, but not Semper and Berkeley.
One of my husband’s great aunts married Edmund Alan Malone, who was Clement Malone’s first cousin (as well as his brother-in-law!). Clement Malone was a very interesting historic figure!
I’m still looking to find a semblance of official recognition for the work of your grandfather , Reginald Hampstead Malone, also the grandfather of my husband.
RH Malone was an amazing , clever and humble man who shunned public and regal recognition, which he could easily have enjoyed, preferring instead to work for the good of others and medical research.
With degrees in medicine from both Canadian and Edinburgh universities, he could have enjoyed a glittering career. He had a wartime posting as the Director of the Louis Pasteur Institute of Tropical Medicine in the mountains of Rangoon during WW2 , whence he made vaccines and medicines for the allied troops and oftentimes for the local population. It was a brutal place to be posted at the time, and he was a gentle scholarly man who did not enjoy the pomp and ceremony of the Raj and the British army elite, despite later on educating his sons at the British Sand Hurst Academy.
We have his papers, and the medical letters written to colleagues at that time, including a report of his solo, and hazardous escape, from Rangoon to India, in a Morris minor car, across the Himalayan mountains, in order to avoid the approaching Japanese army. It was a very violent time. Post war he went to England where he became the head of Pathology at the large Sheffield hospital in England until his retirement. Why Sheffield? Because it had a burgeoning Indian population and he wanted to carry on his medical work amongst the people he admired and felt comfortable with.
I remember meeting this old and wizened man over 50 years ago. It was only many years later, long after his death, that my husband eventually received the correspondence which had been penned by him so many years prior. I keep it very safe!
St Kitts should be very proud of him.
Very interesting! Thank you Brenda.
I need to edit something above. My great grandfather’s name was Frederic Alfred Hart. His son, my grandfather was Frederick Fountain Hart.
I think your grandfather was my great great grandmother’s brother , blanch leona hart who was born in st kits and fled Antigua with my great great grandfather jean Marie
Augustin to have my great grandfather
Alfred elwin augustin and his siblings in St Lucia . I have traced many family members who have a lot of information and my great grandfather seems to be named after your grandfather and one of his brothers.
Frederic Alfred was the son of Fountain Elwin Hart,
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I’m trying to find any relatives on my dad’s side who are from Madeira. My dad’s grandfather (his mom’s dad), went to Antigua from Madeira. He opened shop in Antigua for awhile! He had a daughter,( my dad’s mom) named Menina Branca Fernandez. He wanted to marry my grandmother but her mother wouldn’t have it, so he closed up shop and left. He wanted to take my grandmother, but off course he was faced with a no. My grandmother said he supposedly returned to Madeira but no record of this. Many went St. Kitts, St Vincent and Guyana.
We also know that Victor had sisters in Madeira who were nuns. He named my grandmother after one of his sisters.
Anyone has any kind of information. My dad is in his early 70s. We want to find any family his grandfather, Victor may have in Madeira. Appreciate any information.
If you are on facebook, you might also want to join the “Kittitians.: Kittitians with Portuguese ancestry” page – you might find people there who have connections in Antigua. And Challenger is a familiar name to me – my husband is a distant cousin to Challengers from St Kitts, through marriage to the Madeiran lady Eliza Cabral. There’s also the chance that if you have your DNA tested through ancestry.com or another service, you may be able to connect with cousins who have more family knowledge.
what’s their full names and wifes names and husbands and parents names, full names!?
My mom side is De Costa went to St Kitts are they Jews?
That I don’t know. There was a Jewish Portuguese population in the nearby island of Statia, and there were some very early (18th century) Portuguese Jews on Nevis. I don’t know if your De Costa ancestors could fit in with that.
Do a DNA test. Also could check the Madeira genealogy groups on Facebook.
[…] the child of Carl C. Lyon, a photographer in the capital city Basseterre. The name rang a bell. A photograph has been passed down by my husband’s Kittitian family, featuring his great-grandmother […]
My dad’s father was called James Herbert (born late 1800s/early 1900s- more likely early 1900s). James Herbert was married to a ‘Portuguese’ woman. My dad emigrated to England in the 1950s.
Perhaps someone could help, please…?
I don’t use Facebook! Thanks in anticipation of any possible forthcoming help…
Next time I get to the library, I’ll see if I can find your James Herbert in the SKN marriage records!
Thanks very much- I really appreciate that! I’m related to William Valentine Herbert (Jr)- the founder of the PAM. My dad is his cousin- so James Herbert was his uncle.
After researching the ‘Portuguese’ aspect yesterday, I think James Herbert’s mum might have been Madeiran.
I think I might be related to Rupert Herbert as well but I’m not 100% sure of that.
Thanks again- I’m looking forward to what you might discover. I’m originally from England, but I live in the USA now.
I will do some hunting for James Herbert’s mother, if I can access the SKN vital records. If she was Portuguese, I would think it’s highly likely that she was from Madeira. And interesting connection to PAM – I definitely remember my husband’s older relatives discussing them in the 1980s!
It’s a great shame that Saint-Kitts and Nevis don’t have their BMD records online- I’ve wanted to research my dad’s side of the family for years. Hopefully you’ll be able to find something, what with William Valentine Herbert Sr being James’ brother, there just might be something…
My dad’s family name is Hamilton (his mother’s surname)- but our paternal line is that of the Herberts.
If you don’t mind me asking, are you West Indian… or American… or British? 🙂
I will email you with some information 🙂
DNA testing will hrlp validify some suspicions. I did the Ancestry DNA test. I see lots of Portuguese cousins. There are genealogy groups on Facebook from Madeira. Check the Fb site called: Kittitians and Nevisians with Portuguese Ancestry too. The name was adjusted.
John Farrara. He was from Maderia. My great grandfather.