Wednesday, January 28, 2009

London 1900

In 1900 the head of the Ross family was Samuel Ross, a constable with the Metropolitan Police, somewhat overbearing but a pillar of the community and living in Droop Street, Paddington, London. His wife, Harriet, was the opposite of Samuel, quiet and timid. They had three daughters, Lucy, Rebecca (known to all as Becky) and Martha. They family were devout Catholics and never missed attending confession on Friday evening and mass on Sunday morning.

Also living with them was Lucy's husband, John Sinclair, a young man from Inverness in Scotland, who had a small inheritance as a result of selling his family's farm after the death of his parents. John had seen and responded to this advertisement in The Times below:

From “The Times” London - July 1900

Opportunity for Hard Working Reliable Young Man
Kingston, Jamaica
Article Pupil Scheme

Pupil for pen-keeping, banana and coffee plantation. Pupil will be required to assist in the management of coffee fields, surveying and laying out roads for plantation purposes, keep the plantation books and accounts in order and superintend labourers. In exchange pupil will receive practical instruction in coffee planting and preparing coffee for market, and instruction in the cultivation of bananas.

Pupil must be sober and honest, write a fair hand. A horse and forage will be supplied. Must have good outfit for working and other clothes, strong boots, riding breeches, leggings, waterproof cloak. Linen, etc. supplied. Polo, shooting, lawn tennis, other British sports. Good society. Will be required to furnish first-class references.

Premium required £100 p.a. for 1 year or 2 years payable quarterly in advance.

(Reference in England. Henry N. Pollock, Esq. Ravenswood House,
Windsor, Surrey)

It was as a resut of his successful application that a few weeks later my Great Aunt Lucy and John were on their way to Jamaica where John was to take up an apprenticeship post working for Bertram Pollock on his plantation just outside Kingston, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.

When Lucy and John arrived in Kingston they found a boom town and fell in love with the island almost immediately.

A Psalm of Jamaica

Tell me not in mournful number,
That the town is full of gloom,
For the man’s a crank who slumbers
In these bustling days of boom.

Life is real, life is earnest,
And the grave is not a goal;
Every dollar that thou turnest
Helps to make the old town roll.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
Don’t put off things till to-morrow
Push your business, work to-day.

Lives of great men all remind us
We can win important gain,
Let us leave the chumps behind us
Raise good coffee, corn and cane.

In this world’s broad field of battle
In the bivouac of life-
Let’s raise better herds of cattle
Start a business with the wife.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
In this glorious, fruitful clime
Still achieving, still pursuing
Boom Jamaica all the time.

Anon, 1899.

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