We do not know much about Jean Joseph SIBILLY, but if his descendants today remain numerous, the surname has nevertheless almost disappeared from Saint-Barthélemy, and it is the migrations that have allowed his surname to survive on the island of Saint-Thomas in particular.
Jean Joseph SIBILLY did not get married, so we have no information about his parents, and his parentage is almost impossible to trace (There may be some clues, however, we will see later). It seems that he arrived on our island towards the end of 1803, beginning of 1804, and Jean Joseph SIBILLY is a teacher as evidenced by the announcements below published in the Report of Saint-Bartholomew, newspaper of the Swedish period:
In the above advertisement dated February 21, 1806 and published in the newspaper of March 15, he said to himself « French teacher who has been until this day a School Master in the city of Gustavia, and who for more than of two years, had the honor of serving the public with great satisfaction, decided to set up his home in the presbytery of Lorient. Sieur SIBILLY, warns the public, that his classes will be open in Lorient on the 24th of the current, and as his new premises offer many amenities and that his home will be very advantageous for the health of his students, he will be able to receive new boarders, but, for the good of the public, he also warns that he will admit to his general lessons only 20 pupils at most, in this number will be included the boarders and half-boarders. Wanting in this to make a sacrifice of his interests for the advancement of his disciples.
The price of the board is 8 mods for 3 months, the master provides for all the daily needs, except books. Besides, he has at home a general prospectus relating to his establishment, and he promises that he will comply with it and will read it to all who will honor him with their trust.
Mr. FAHLBERG, doctor to His Majesty the King of Sweden, who is so fond of being useful for the public good, will be kind enough to give information to those whom business will prevent from coming to speak to me in the East « .
On October 16, another announcement appeared in the same newspaper: “The public is warned that the elder Sieur SIBILLY, former Schoolmaster in Saint-Barthélemy, continues to teach in the city of Gustavia. Those who want to honor him with their trust, either for their children or for private lessons on his various courses, will only have to contact the said teacher, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. , he is still at home. His house is that of Mr PIZANY, near the house of Mr BERTIN father in Gustavia, September 30, 1806 ”.
You will undoubtedly have noticed that the advertisements do not mention Jean Joseph SIBILLY, but “SIBILLY” or, “SIBILLY Ainé” or even “C.SIBILLY Ainé”.
However, according to his application for naturalization addressed to the Governor of Saint-Barthélemy on December 24, 1821, it does appear to be one and the same person:
« Jean Joseph SIBILLY elder, residing in this city of Gustavia, exposes very humbly, Gentlemen: that for several years, having established his residence in this island, and the state which he professes obliging him to bind himself more particularly with the heads of families who honor him with their trust, he would like to be admitted to the honorable rank of Swedish Citizen; begging you to issue him with the necessary documents, observing you nevertheless that his means do not allow him to pay to be in the first class of the bourgeoisie, he will only take the papers of the petty bourgeoisie, this considered, Gentlemen, l ‘exhibitor will not cease to make wishes for your prosperity and the preservation of your august persons‘.
The request was accepted and he signed the declaration of allegiance on December 29, 1821, thus becoming a Swedish citizen.
You will notice that the documents are in the name of Jean Joseph SIBILLY and that the signature only mentions « SIBILLY ainé« . Why is he signing this way? Maybe he is looking to age himself and inspire more confidence?
As we have seen above, Jean Joseph does not marry, but he has a natural child with an Aglaé JOHNSON about which I have no information. They have together an only son who was born around 1830.
Jean Joseph SIBILLY died in Gustavia on May 5, 1840, and it was recorded on the 6th. He is said to be a native of Marseille and died of fevers, aged 60.
The inventory of the estate is drawn up on July 20 of the same year. He is said to be a native of France and a former schoolmaster. He doesn’t seem to have much apart from old things (a small mahogany desk old and broken, a lot of old woods, a small frying pan, an old broken quadrant, an old trunk and old charts, an old box, a French and Swedish dictionary, 2 French and Spanish dictionaries).
Let us return to Guillaume his son.
When he married Anne Eulalie MORRIS in 1858, he was called Guillaume Guitton SIBILLY and he recognized several children: Anne Marie, 8 years old, Jean Joseph, 6 years old and Victorine, 3 years old and Louis, 2 years old. He also adopts Eulalie’s daughter, Joséphine, around 11 years old. The couple had other children: Frédéric Guillaume in 1858, Marie Agathe around 1862, Pierre Thomas around 1867 and Pascal Théodoric, a posthumous son who was born about a month after the death of his father.
According to the acts, the first names of Guillaume Guitton vary a lot, we find him under Jean Joseph, Guillaume Joseph, Joseph, Joseph Guillaume.
Guillaume and Anne Eulalie live in a house that belongs to them on lot 560 in Gustavia, which belongs to the King.
We have made a tour of what can be found for the moment on Jean Joseph SIBILLY.
As indicated above, it is very difficult to specify the origin of John Joseph. Indeed, nowhere do we have information about his parish of birth (if he was born in Marseille), nor the first and last names of his parents. However, one thing gave me a little hope: it is the middle name of his son Guillaume: « Guitton » and that we only find mentioned at his marriage.
I wondered if this could not be a surname used as a middle name.
On Geneanet, for Marseille and the period between 1740 and 1790, we obtain 756 results for GUITTON.
While looking for a couple SIBILLY + GUITTON, we find a Jean Louis Urbain SIBILLY, Captain of the ships who marries a Marie Anne Louise GUITTON on January 11, 1776 in the parish of La Major. Jean Louis Urbain died in Africa in 1787. These dates place us in the context of the years during which Jean Joseph was born (around 1780).
I read all the records between 1776 and 1787 for this parish, and found two sons, but not Jean Joseph. As there was also a girl, Françoise Pauline, born around 1786, to be found, I deduce that the family had to change parish after 1782 (date of birth of Pierre Jean Louis) … but frankly, look for an act baptism in all the parishes of Marseille over a period of five or six years … it is a colossal job!
There is also a second disturbing element, it is the resemblance between the signature of Jean Louis Urbain SIBILLY and that of Jean Joseph (The double bar with the dots inside). I don’t know how to explain it, but I think it’s a clue to take into account.
Finally, Mr. Vincent RENARD sends me the information that he helped looking for, the document is to be found in the parish of Saint-Laurent in Marseille. Jean Joseph was born there on March 18, 1778 and baptized the next day … with the parents I had imagined to be his, Jean Louis Urbain SIBILLY and Marianne Louise GUITTON
So yes, it is now a proven fact, Jean Joseph SIBILLY was born in Marseille.