The BARNES of Saba,

The earliest known BARNES in Saba is a certain John William BARNES.  Until now, it was believed that he was the first BARNES to have landed in Saba, and therefore, was the ancestor of all the BARNES in Saba.

This John William BARNES married Mary Elizabeth HASSELL (where and when remains unknown for now). We don’t know when either of them died.

We could only link with certitude this John William BARNES to two of the three BARNES, forming what was believed to be the  « 1st Saban born generation » of the BARNES family in Saba :

  1. Edward Ann BARNES was born circa 1825 (we know this from his death certificate)
  2. Jacob Every BARNES was born circa 1828 (we know this from his death certificate)

There is a third BARNES that belongs to this so-called « 1st generation » and that might also be connected: Thomas Leverock BARNES born in Saba around 1829. On his death certificate in 1915, his father is named « John BARNES ». There is no information on the mother. We had considered he also was a son of John William BARNES and Mary Elizabeth HASSELL, but without proof.

Now we have gotten new information from Saint-Barth’s Swedish epoch documents. The below documents are declarations of oath.

In Saint-Barth, to be able to be a mariner on a Swedish flagged vessel, one had to become a Swedish citizen, therefore, all had to pledge allegiance to the King of Sweden. Those mariners didn’t have to be living on the island permanently.

  1. The oath of a John William BARNES was taken in Saint-Barth in 1814. He was born in Saba and is 28 years old, so born around 1786. He is 5 feet high and has brown hair and blue eyes. He can sign his name.
FSB 278 – Oath of John William BARNES

We can assume that in the early 1800s, the BARNES last name was not a widespread name on the island of Saba, and chances that « our » John William BARNES was the same one that took the oath in St Barth are rather high despite the fact that it would mean that he had had his kids rather late in life (40+). If both are one and the same, we then learn something important: he was not a new arrival on Saba as he was born there. It also means that it was his father that could have been the first BARNES on Saba. We also can deduce that John William BARNES could have had brothers and sisters living on Saba at the same time.

2 The oath of Abraham BARNES was also taken in 1814. He, also, was born on Saba. As he is 21, he would have been born there around 1793. He was five feet six inches tall, and had brown hair and blue eyes. He cannot sign.

FSB 278 – Oath of Abraham BARNES

            3          The oath of Edward BARNES was taken in Gustavia on the 20th of September 1814. He was born in Saba and is twenty-six years old. It is even indicated that he is Five 17/24 feet high, that he has blue eyes and brown hair, and eyebrows. He takes his oath along with another Saban, John William MITCHELL.

FSB 278 – Oath of Edward BARNES

Chances that Abraham BARNES, Edward BARNES, and John William BARNES are brothers are rather high, but not proven.

So here is our recap of the landscape of the history of the BARNES’s last name in Saba as we currently know it, with the identity of the first BARNES still unclear.

The first BARNES to have arrived on Saba would be an unknown XX BARNES, whose wife is also unknown, and who is believed to have landed in Saba somewhere around 1785. Was he arriving from the British isles directly or was he part of the diaspora of poor families of ex-indentured servants that had to leave Barbados and were moving their way north thru the smaller islands, in the hope to find a better life?

Next, possibly, his three sons :

John William BARNES, circa 1786, married Elizabeth HASSELL

Edward BARNES,  circa 1788

Abraham BARNES circa 1793

They would have been the first Saban-born BARNES in Saba.

Then, the 2nd generation born on Saba: One can notice that two of them have a typical Saban’s last name as a part of their first name : EVERY and LEVEROCK. This is a Saban tradition, often referring to one of the grandparents.

 Edward Ann BARNES,       

 Jacob Every BARNES

Thomas Leverock BARNES.

But in another document, we found some confusing information to our theory.

On the 16th of November 1821, nine Saban children are baptized at the Lutheran church of Gustavia. Amongst them, is an Elizabeth BARNES, born in Saba ten days prior. Her father is John William BARNES and the mother … a Mary EVERY and not the expected Elizabeth HASSELL.

This, is not helping us at all here … are we in presence of a second John William BARNES, or is he the same one with a different wife? Is there an error on this document or on the death certificates of both Edward Ann and Jacob? Would this explain Jacob’s second first name?

It is to be noted that Elizabeth BARNES was born during the same time frame as Edward Ann, Jacob Every, and Thomas Leverock, therefore, they could be brothers and sisters.

And who is this Rebecca BARNES showing as a godmother to William Simmons EVERY a bit further down the list? Could she be an older daughter of John William BARNES? We have no answers to those questions for now.

The next generations of Saban’s BARNES came from those three men as follows:

Edward Ann BARNES and his wife Elizabeth HASSELL will have 10 children,

Jacob Every BARNES and his wife Mary Ellen EVERY will have 2 children,

Thomas Leverock BARNES and his wife Henrietta Mary BARNES will have 9 children

As a son to Jacob Every BARNES,  we have Captain Richard Thomas « Buddy » BARNES born in 1858.

Captain Richard Thomas BARNES and supposedly his two elder sons, Richard Thomas Junior and Chandoes.

Amongst other Sabans, at the time of the new law imposing Dutch as the language of education, he relocated from Saba with his family. They first stopped in Saint-Barth around 1912 for some years, and then moved on to Barbados. Richard Thomas BARNES and his wife Mary Ann EVERY were the parents of Captain Thomas Charles BARNES who decided to stay in Gustavia. In 1915, he married in Saint-Kitts Elizabeth Nina DOWLING, also born in Saba. They are my children’s great-great-grandparents.

Captain Thomas Charles BARNES in front of the old house in Gustavia


1 réponse

  1. The family ressamblance between Captain Thomas BARNES and Captain Richard BARNES in the photos is striking. A great story … thank you!


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