Sunday, 12 September 2010

Leaving London: the Ford Boys Come to Jamaica

It’s been a busy summer and I’ve neglected My Jamaican Family, but I’m back now, carrying on the story of the Cunha family and their connection to the Fords. I knew nothing about the Fords, and my curiosity about them was stirred by the marriage of Percival Cunha to Marianne Bravo Ford in 1879. Here is a copy of their marriage record.

They were married 27th August 1879 in St George’s Anglican Church by Enos Nuttall, who later became Bishop of Jamaica. Both were listed as of full age, though their ages were given on the record, and the witnesses to the marriage were all from the Ford family – Jas D. Ford, Florence Louise Ford and Henry B. Ford.

So, who were these Fords anyway? The first task was to find out who Marianne’s parents were. Since Percival and Marianne were married in the Anglican Church I assumed that she must have been baptized in that church, since the Cunhas were certainly Methodists. I found Marianne’s baptism in the Church of England copy registers and saw that she was born 5th February 1858, daughter of James Dearmer Ford and his wife, Cordelia and that she was christened Marianne Bravo. So now I knew that the Jas. D. Ford who was a witness at her marriage had to be her father, James Dearmer Ford. My next step, then, was to search for the marriage of James Dearmer Ford to this Cordelia. I could not, however, find any trace of the marriage in the Anglican registers, so moved to the Dissenter Marriage Registers, on the off chance that they were married in another Protestant denomination, and sure enough, they were. I found that James Dearmer Ford and Cordelia Henriques were married by license on December 15, 1852 in St. Andrew’s United Presbyterian Church in Kingston by one James Watson. Here is their marriage record:

James was twenty-seven years old, a bank clerk, and Cordelia was twenty-one, so both were of full age to be married. The witnesses at this marriage were Henry Ford (again!), an M. Mais, Catherine Dean, Mary Ann Melhado and F. G DaCosta. Here is a recent photo of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, now known as Scots Kirk.

The names Melhado and DaCosta are Jewish, as is Henriques, which made me wonder if Cordelia had married outside of her faith. I therefore searched the Jewish records to see if I could find her birth, which, based on her age at marriage, would have been about 1831.

However, I could find no trace of Cordelia’s birth in the Jewish records, the originals of which are in the National Archives in Spanish Town, but which have been transcribed by Mrs. Phyllis Delisser and can also be found on the Jamaican Family Search website. According to Donald Lndo’s CD, Genealogy of Jamaica, Cordelia was the daughter of one Benjamin Quixano Henriques, who had married Abigail Mesquita, though no date for her birth was given. The source for this was First American Jewish Families, a compilation by the late Malcolm H. Stern, originally published in 1960, the third edition of which was published in 1991. It is also online at  Stern gave a list of children for Benjamin and Abigail, which included Cordelia (no birth date) and the notation that she had married “Ford”. I was able to find four of these children in the Sephardic records and noted that the last one listed, Nathaniel, was born in Spanish Town in 1927. It’s possible that the other children born after Nathaniel were also born there and that their births were not sent to the synagogue in Kingston and so have not survived in the records. One curious omission in Stern’s list was that of Amos Henriques, born in 1811, who later became a well-known physician and is written up in the Jewish Encyclopedia. In researching Amos I discovered the notice of his death in 1880 in the Jamaica Gleaner of July 7th of that year, which clearly stated his relationship to Cordelia, thus confirming her paternity.


At 67 Upper Berkeley Street, London, of 5th June 1880, of Paralysis of the Heart, Dr. Amos Henriques, aged 72, formerly of Kingston, and deeply regretted by an affectionate wife and children, his sister here, Mrs. Jas. D. Ford, two brothers in Australia, and numerous relatives and friends here and in London.

So now I knew that James Dearmer Ford had married a Jewish girl, but who was he and where had he come from? Unable to find any information about him in the records I started searching the Gleaner for any stories about James Ford and his brother Henry, and it was through Henry, or rather his lengthy obituary published in the Gleaner on November 18, 1901, that I learned the origins of the Ford brothers.

There it was – James and Henry had come to Jamaica on February 14, 1840! It seemed to me that they had most likely come from England and so I changed course and began researching in English records to see what I could find. In my next post I will describe my research into the Ford family.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dorothy: Nice to have you back. I've been haunting your site for more posts. L.

Judith said...

Looking forward to the next post, having thoroughly enjoyed this one. And maybe an upcoming search of the Bravo family?

Dorothy Kew said...

I don't' know about the Bravo family, Judith! Got enough to do to keep up with the Fords! But it is an interesting connection between a Jewish family and a Christian one. More to come!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posts, Dorothy. You have wonderful story-telling sklls -- you should write a book about your ancestors one day :-) I'm also researching my Jamaican family tree and your blog's an inspiration.
Best, AltheaC

Anonymous said...

I am a Da-Costa of jamaican decent and have a large family spread across the globe all Da-costa's. We are from the Sephardic Hebrew Israelites, which is not to be confused with Ashkenazi jews. That said I enjoy your blog. You should look up nationality translated from hebrew, it will further your research on the where the name "Da-Costa decends from...Selah

Anonymous said...

I know I'm about 2 years late but I'm related to the Fords in Jamaica. My name is Blair Henry and my family has also been doing research, and apparently there were about 7 brothers who all came here, eventually spread out but we're all related apparently. || It's also said that Malcolm Gladwell is a Ford descendant as well.

Dorothy Kew said...

In reply to Anonymous, latest post: I'm afraid you're incorrect. I have researched the Ford family from England. Thomas Ford had seven children, five of whom were boys, and of that five one died in 1843. Only two, James and Henry, came to Jamaica and settled there. There are other Ford families in Jamaica but they do not connect to this particular family. As for Malcolm Gladwell, his parents are Graham Gladwell and Joyce Nation. Joyce Nation's parents were Donald Nation and Daisy Ford. I cannot find any connection between Daisy and my Ford family.

Jerry Ford said...

Nice Post!! Great information for our Ford Family.

Jerry Ford Goti is my name. I born and live here in Panama City, Panama.

My Father: Jerome Basil Ford Barras

My Grandfather: Frederick Edmund Ford Boyd

My Great GrandFather: Edmund Basil Ford Kelly

My Great GrandFather: Edmund George Ford Henriquez

My Great GrandFather: James Dearmer Ford

Arras Memorial

Arras Memorial

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore
My uncle Victor