The life of a Saban in Saint-Barth, Moses Leverock HASSELL

The life of one of the many Sabans that lived in Saint-Barth during the Swedish period.

On the 16th of October 1843, Moses Leverock HASSELL, along with another four other town’s representatives ( GROEBE, PERILLIER, ABBOTT and LABASTIDE) sign a letter to the Governor HAASUM to urge him to take decisions to avoid the contamination of the local population by the small pox «  that is prevailing to considerable extents in the island of Saint-Thomas, and there being frequent communication between the two islands. It may be introduced into this island and thereby subject its inhabitants to the miseries attendant on such a distress, particularly in the absence of a medical practitioner, except speedy measures are adopted to prevent the same … such orders as you seem proper for the safety of the people agains the disease»

On the 30th of November 1850, Moses Leverock HASSEL and Mary Frances WOOD send a request to the Governor of Saint-Barthelemy. He is a native of Saba, aged thirty-seven years and she is a native of Saint-Barth and thirty-two of age. They add « that being under a long engagement, they now propose, with your Excellency’s sanction, to get themselves united in marriage. That having paid the church dues as per accompanying receipt, they humbly pray that your Excellency will be pleased to cause their banns of marriage to be advertised in the usual way in the absence of a Protestant Minister on the island, they being stuck up on one of the doors of the Lutheran church in this town, three weeks from this day and further humbly pray that this banns being duly published, and no impediment offered, thereto, your Excellency will be further pleased to allow the Reverend Mr. J. A. ROCK, minister of the Church of England expected here shortly, to unite them in marriage … ».

They must have received a positive answer from the Governor because the wedding is solemnized on the 17th of December 1850 in Gustavia. This marriage is the 2d showing in the local Church of England’s register. Father J.A. ROCK is the acting minister.

The wedding record states that Moses L. HASSELL is the son of a Henry Johnson HASSELL, planter.

I have one Henry Johnson HASSELL showing in my files with his wife Ann. They are the parents of John William HASSEL born in Saba on the 23rd of December 1818 and baptized in Gustavia on the 13th of June 1819. I cannot confirm for sure that they are related, but that is most probably.

On the 18th of June 1857, Moses Leverock HASSELL, Custom’s Searcher in Gustavia, writes a touching letter to the Governor.

 « To His Excellency Sir James H. HAASUM Knight Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star and the Royal Order of the Sword, Governor in and over this island of Saint-Bartholomew,

The petition of Moses Leverock HASSELL, searcher of His Majesty Customs, that your petitioner’s aged mother resides in the island of Saba, and it is many years since your petitioner has seen her.

He, therefore, prays that your Excellency may be pleased to grant him leave of absence for two or three weeks enable him to visit his mother and that hem ay be permitted to take advantage of any opportunity offering tomorrow to do so »

On the 25th of July 1859, he addresses another petition.

 « To the King’s most Excellent Majesty,

The humble memorial of Moses Leverock HASSELL, Custom officer in the Royal Customs House in this island of Saint-Bartholomew, most humbly sheweth,

                                    That memorialist has been a constant resident in this island for upwards of thirty-three years, always manifesting an ardent loyalty for your most gracious Majesty service,

                                    That during that time, memorialist has served his adopted country in various ways, always to the satisfaction of this superiors in office, as filling the important place of Alderman of this town for upwards of twenty years by consecutive re-elections as one of the members chosen to sit in the late Emancipation appraising Committee, as a member of the Emancipation two committee and in many other matters.

                                    That more immediately, as a servant of the Crown, memorialist has held the office of searcher and waiter in the Royal Customs House for about ten years and such has shown his zeal and diligence in the discharge of his duties, that on several occasions, during the temporary absences of the Collectors of Customs, memorialist had the sanction of the Governor to perform the entire duties of the Customs House department.

                                    That after the demise of the late collector ALMGREN, such was the confidence reposed in memorialist the Governor HAASUM for integrity and capacity for its duties, he bestowed on memorialist the appointment then-vacant of acting Collector of Customs, which office memorialist lead for upwards of six months, until the arrival of the gentleman now filling that office.

                                    That among all the employments in which memorialist was engaged as a public servant in this community, the most laborious and trying to him was that of Health Officer and particularly during the period when these West Indies islands were under the visitation of that most terrible and fatal epidemic of Asiatic cholera.

                                    That on this occasion, memorialist was rewarded with the thanks of the Governor in council assembled for the assiduity, and judgment exercised by memorialist at the time of the Health Officer, as per the accompanying extract minutes of the Royal Council of the date the 16th of May 1855 and which duties were performed gratuitously, no pay being attached to the situation.

                                    That suffering at present in a pecuniary point of view, from the pressure of the times, by the falling off in trade and the consequent reduction of the Searcher’s fees, memorialist is constrained to submit his case humbly to the consideration of Your Gracious Majesty, feeling assured that the Royal Paternal ear will listen to his petitioner.

                                    That the salary of the Searcher, with his varied occupations, is the small sum of two hundred dollars per annum, that his fees, not one tithe of what they were a few years gone past, at present amount to little more than one hundred dollars per annum, collected in very small sums from which, when items of boat hire are deducted, memorialist having to board and visit vessel entering and departing, this part at his own expense, very little is left to him but the bare small salary, a sum too inadequate to support memorialist and his family in that decency which he should live in.

                                    Therefore, the memorialist most humbly prays that your Majesty would deign to take his case into Gracious consideration and bestow on him an augmentation of two hundred dollars more on his present salary.

                                    And with sentiments of profound veneration, fidelity, and zeal, memorialist as in duty bound,

                        Subscribes himself


                        Your most Gracious Majesty,

                        Most humble and loyal servant and subject,

                        M. L. HASSELL »

On the 27th of March 1865, Moses again ask permission to visit his « aged mother who resides in the island of Saba ». He wants a leave of absence for a month.

In 1869, as per the denombrement of 1869, both Moses and Mary Frances are living in a house on lot 646. They own the house but the lot of land belongs to Sir Richard DINZEY. It is situated on the water front, more or less where the Presqu’ile hotel is nowadays. They are living there alone, no children. It appears that they built the house probably around 1853. They also had received a loan from the Council of Finance with a mortgage that was cancelled in July 1863. They purchased the lot itself from the Richard DINZEY’s estate on the 28th of November 1872.

In August 1871, as an Alderman in Gustavia, along with Peter VLAUN, Oscar FLORANDIN and Gabriel MAGRAS, and after a selection process, they propose to hire Emmanuel THELEMAQUE as the new jailor to replace the deceased H.BRADLEY.

Moses Leverock HASSELL died in Gustavia on the 6th of May 1873. The ceremony was held at the Anglican church the very same day, and he was buried in the cemetery of Saint-Jean. Despite being in very bad conditions, his tombstone, with a very special shape and style, can still be seen.

On the 24th of July of 1873, « at the request, and in the presence of Mary Frances HASSELL born WOOD, relict of Moses Leverock HASSELL Esquire, late Searcher of His Majesty Customs of this island, who departed this life on the sixth day of the month of May in this present year, inventory was taken of all the property, real and personal belonging to the community that did exist between the said deceased Moses Leverock HASSELL Esquire and his surviving spouse, Mrs Mary Frances HASSELL. The property and effects were appraised by Julien Oscar FLORANDIN and Peter James VLAUN, representatives of this town ».

Landed property       The lof of land 646 with a small wood building, kitchen and old cistern thereon erected, valued 225 dollars

One mahogany dining table                      10 dollars

One pair of mahogany card table             3 dollars

One mahogany side board                        6 dollars

One dozen cann seat chairs                      8 dollars

Glass and crockery ware                10 dollars

Table Linen                                       5 dollars

One mahogany press                                  15 dollars

One cedar bedstead                                   8 dollars

One mahogany  basin stand                     1.30 dollar

Two mastresses and six pillow    12 dollars

Bill linen                                           10 dollars

Cash – being two months salary   50 dollars

            Total                                       363.50 dollars

As per the statement below, there are no debts. That is not much after 47 years on this island and so many years working for the local government.

Situation of lot 324 in Gustavia (La Pointe). Lot 646 was a part of this lot.

On the 16th of September 1874, at the Anglican church, Richard Burton DINZEY signs a certificate stating « that Mary Frances HASSELL ability to work or do anything towards her support, continues to decrease, in consequence of advancing years and bodily infirmity, and that she continues to be in need of assistance for her maintenance ».

Mary Frances WOOD died in Gustavia on the 21st of March 1893 and was buried the same day.

Mary Frances WOOD was born in Gustavia on the 10th of October 1818, daughter of Daniel WOOD (born in Statia in 1793) and of Margaret HYMAN (No details). Mary Frances had two sisters :

Ann Catherine born in 1815 in Gustavia, married to her first cousin Engle James WOOD in Gustavia in 1842 with 6 children.

Joana Eliza born around 1815 in Gustavia, married to James Anthony SCOPINICH ( SCOPEAN) The SCOPEAN AND LAGOIS families (English version)

SABA seen from Saint Barth


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