The Bermudian Slaves were masters at the helm and many historians relate facts.Bermuda has long been known as a place where slaves and indentured servants struggled to obtain their place in Society once they gained their freedom. One of the most notable trades came to the fore well before Emancipation was that of building and sailing ships.. Local Pilots were some of the most knowledgable to maneuver around the reefs of Bermuda so the local pilots were encouraged after the collapse of the Somers Isle Company in 1684 to apply this trade.Bermuda disappointed by its failing in the tobacco and agriculture industry moved into the Maritime Commerce allowing Whaling,fishing,shipbuilding smuggling and even privateering to take over.By 1700 fishing boats appeared in abundance and they were operated by Bermudians.By 1800’s a surge of acts regarding the regulations of pilots was put into practice. This brought about the titles of Master & Warden of Pilots. All vessels were required to pay pilot fees. Wardens were authorized to license branch pilots and made by- laws to instruct pilots.By 1812 legislation prevented unskilled persons from becoming pilots unless they took an examination and they were also forced to register their boats.
JAMES JEMMY DARRELL is a well known name about Bermuda he was among the slaves who assisted Lt. Thomas Hurd a British Surveyor sent to Bermuda to carry out a marine survey on the island. Black pilots had extensive knowledge of the Inlets bays and coastlines in the island. On May 1795 two years after Hurd began his survey Jemmy Darrell maneuvered Rear Admiral George Murrary’s huge Gun Ship HMS Resolution into a deep anchorage know as Murray’s anchorage on the North Shore near Tobacco Bay, St. George’s. Because of this vast and safe task Jemmy was made a kings’ pilot and given his freedom by Admiral Murray. Jemmy Darrell, Jacob Pitcarn and Tom Bean were appointed the first Kings pilots.Although free men they had no legal rights. They could not serve on a jury, or testify in court. Least of all they could not Will any property they acquired to any of their heirs. Only two pilots later petition to stay here in Bermuda and keep their property they were Jemmy Darrell and Jacob Picarn. Jemmy eventually Willed his property to his heirs.
STEPHEN BENJAMIN RICHARDSON 1800-1879 born a slave always had a desire to become a pilot. An alert and intelligent young man he quickly advanced in his chosen career. He saved enough to purchase his freedom and in later years the freedom of his wife for 30 pounds.He was one of 38 free blacks who signed a petition addressed to the government for the removal of disabilities under which free blacks and free people of colour had to labour.He was classed a hero when he saved a young woman from a near fatal accident in 1838.Stephen was issued a certificate of competence by captain by Captain Edward Franklin of the Royal mail Steam ship Tweed after he piloted the vessel out of Castle Harbour.Stephen Richardson was able to purchase property in St. Georges’ near the Golf course in 1847. He later built his home on this land and named it “Northside”. He was one of 563 signatures who petitioned against the importation of farm labour. He was classed as one of the most skillful branch pilots of his time and for many years held the position of Pilot examiner. Both Jemmy Darrell and Stephen Richardson homes have been selected to be put on the Bermuda Foundation African Diaspora Trail.
On Sunday 31st. May 2015 the Loyal Mayflower Lodge celebrated its’ 96th Anniversary.Hosting this event was the newly installed Sister Joy Wilson-Tucker. Sister Wilson-Tucker resumed this seat again after some fifteen years. It was a beautiful sunny day and this added to the excitement of the event. The day started with the unveiling of an African Diaspora site plaque under the auspices of the Bermuda African Diaspora Foundation. The site was the Manchester Unity Hall and lot of land where the Colonial Opera House Theatre once stood. The history centered around these buildings is vast being built-in 1908- and 1923 respectively. and the site is well deserving of being chosen to be among the Heritage Trail. The event started at 3.30 with the unveiling of the plaque.The prayer was given by Sister Violet Brangman Past Grand and serving as the newly elected Vice grand of the sisters’ lodge. Assisting with the unveiling was the Provincial Grand Master of the Hamilton District Brother Norbert Simmons, Ms. Maxine Esdaille Director and Chairperson of the Bermuda Diaspora Foundation and Mrs. Joy Wilson-Tucker also a director on the board. The service was held in the upper hall beautifully decorated in the subordinate colours of blue and white. The theme for the day was Heritage ‘Woman of Substance” the welcome was given by Sister Marion Tannock Past Grand and the scripture Proverbs 31 Chapter 10-31 was read by Sister Sherma Calder Right Supporter to the Vice grand. The history of the women who were responsible for fighting to get a female Lodge established was read by the Noble grand sister Wilson-Tucker and a beautiful liturgical dance was performed by six-year-old Isis Tucker daughter of Ryan and Bernadette Tucker as a dedication to the past and present sisters. This was her Debut in front of a large gathering as some 75 people in attendance enjoyed the festivities. Ms. Esdaille gave a most inspiring presentation on the topic and the showing of a video added to the historical knowledge for all present. Thanks was given to the speaker by member Sister Clara Saunders newly installed conductor. Greetings and well wishes came from several lodges and organizations. Sister Deborah Burgess and her staff gave great service in the catering department. It was an event full of pleasure with the singing of We’re marching to Zion and to God be the Glory. Well done to the sisters of the Loyal Mayflower Lodge Keep up the good work.
She gave Her All
Vivian Mary Lorina Jones—-came from a very prominent and proud family. She was one of five siblings. Her father was a well-known tailor and operated his own business on Church Street in Hamilton Bermuda. He sold clothing and made high-end men’s Trousers for Trimingham brothers and H. & E Smiths’ Department stores. After the death of her father the business was moved to Glebe Road in Pembroke. The Jones Dry Goods store came into existence and became well-known throughout the Island.
Vivian had a particularly good knowledge of Mathematics which she used in her store management. Vivian however was also interested in Music. She studied piano at the Stovell and Hinson schools and later went on to the Boston conservatory of music where she trained as a singer and concert pianist. She displayed this talent around many of the churches in Bermuda. She became a member of the Christian Science in 1963 and in 1966 accepted the role as church organist and served in this position for over 46 years. Her musical career spanned some 60 years and she taught private piano and voice lesson. She was one of the first music teachers to have students sit the Associated board of the Royal School of Music exams. She continued to assist her mother in operating the family business going on buying trips and bringing back quality merchandise to sell in the community. In 2010 she received the Queen’s certificate and badge of Honour for her dedicated service to the community.
She was celebrated by the North Village Community on two occasions. Vivian had a charitable spirit and willingly helped those in need. She not only shared her musical gift and her kindness she was a faithful villager in her community. Vivian Mary Lorina Jones was a true Community —-Icon.
Martin George Prescott White– was the youngest son of Edith Dill White. Educated at Central Primary School and later Technical Institute. He was an avid Sportsman playing cricket and football for the North Shore Giants. His first work was at the Hamilton Press under the management of Mr. Shirley Jackson a trail blazer in his own right. He later went on to work at Bermuda Press under Mr. Lionel Pearman as a lino-typist operator and salesman. He served in the printers division of the Bermuda Industrial Union. Martin was known as (Marty) to his family and friends. In 1978 he changed careers and went to work for H .M. Customs as an assistant. He excelled at his job and as a result was promoted as a full-time customs officer in 1980. Marty was determined to be the best that he could be at his job and furthered his knowledge by pursuing several courses of study in Bermuda and overseas. He became keenly interested in world affairs his well watched news stations was C N N, Fox and C span. Marty had an extensive and outstanding career he left a legacy for many of our young people to follow. He worked in Drugs Interdiction, passive Canine Training, X-ray of suspected smugglers profile Drugs. He assisted with the implementation of the Customs Canine Unit. He received merit awards and numerous letters of appreciation for his helpfulness. Marty was a gentle giant. He never tooted his own horn during the 30+ years for his illustrious career. Like many we know Marty left us to soon. He was truly a man on a mission.
Antonio McQuillian “Jugs” Dill was a musical star in his own right. Born to Clarence Spammie” Dill and Mildred Tweed. He received his early education at Prospect Primary School and later the Bermuda Technical Institute. Antonio ironically (Tony) was blessed to have the name of his great-great ancestor Antonio Deminks-Ferrier from his Father’s ancestry.Tony loved music and at age 4 played the drums with the North Village Jr. band. He was determined to make music his career. Tony learned to play drums saxophone flute trumpet percussions and bass. His passion however was the key board. He formed his first band the Dynamics and they played throughout Bermuda.His most popular band formed was Burning Ice. So popular was this band that they toured Canada and stayed there for 15 years. He than changed the name of the band to Circular Force. Tony returned home and organized a three-piece ensemble.named The Chique. He played just about every tourist establishment in beautiful Bermuda. He was a musician extraordinaire and played the four corners of the world.He was proud to be Bermudian. When he played it was music that relaxed the mind and endured the heart.
Thelma Wilson-Tucker was born the eldest child of William Francis Wilson 3rd. and Ismay Winifred Rebecca Dill- Wilson. Her early education was at the Franklyn Lodge. This was a historical note for her family as it was later discovered that Frankly lodge was owned and built but her great great grand father Enfield Dill. Thelma later attended Central School .
While a teenager it was discovered that she loved to sing and was gifted with a beautiful voice. She sang in the St. Monica’s choir and joined the Nellie Swan’s singing group entertaining in various churches around the Island of Bermuda with her cousin Esther Whitter-Burgess, Joseph Richards; David Ifor Nisbett and Thomas Nisbett who later became Canon of the Anglican Church. They were paid 2/- shillings for their services and 1/2 of that went to the building fund of the St. Monica’s hall. Being a very sociable person Thelma won a popularity contest at the Unity Patio In Pembroke . The urge to sing continued to nip at her and still in her early teens she sang at Frascati Hotel which became the Coral Island Club and with the St. Monica’s Negro Spiritual Trio on the Sunday Amateur Hour. As her singing voice matured so did Thelma and she had the opportunity to work with her Uncle Leverson (Louie) Wilson himself a North Village Bandsman and saxophonist in the Mark Williams band at the St. George’s Club . There she received her first pay of 10/- . She continued to excel in her career and was noticed by a visiting musician . She was offered the chance to travel with him but being under age she needed the permission of both parents her father refused his permission. Thelma was crushed but she did not let this hamper her dreams. She studied tap dancing, played the cocktail drums and learned the accordion .She got the opportunity to work at the Old Hamilton Hotel with several White bands at the Naval Annex Base in Southampton Bermuda which included such persons as Freddie Chapman, Eddie Whilsteen. She had the great privilege of performing at N.O.Base with Tobby Chippa’s band in shows titled ‘a Thousand and one nights and Solomon and the Seven Veils.
In 1949 she joined the Sidney Bean Trio and was the first female to sing during college week season. In 1950 she joined Philip Dublin and the Dublineers staying with them for seven years singing at the Belmont and ABC club. As her career progressed she sang with Al Harris, Ted Bassett and Gladwin ( Rags) Richardson at the Mid-Ocean Club and Loyalty Inn. She became classed as the Sarah Vaughn and Lena Horne of Bermuda.She admired Ella Fitzgerald and Nancy Wilson were some of her idols. She met some well-known people in the music field during her career among them Nancy Wilson, Dionne Warwick Arthur Prysock and Louie Armstrong. After 25 years in the music field she retired. and worked for a while in the well-known A S Cooper Department store. She was an avid gardener winning prizes for her lovely Violets.
Thelma received the Bermuda Musicians Varity Artist Award and was honoured at the Ambassadors of song in 2006 She was honoured among five female Divas in 2008 by Dale Butler.And inducted into the music hall of fame in 2010. Thelma lived her dream to the fullest and before her demise said ‘I’ve lived a good and full life. She was a treasure that will live in the hearts of her family,friends and Bermudian Community forever.
As we look back over the sands of time one can’t help but remember some of the most notable teachers of our era. Margaret Godwin was such a teacher. Short in stature but very powerful in her contribution to her community.
Her early education was at the Tills Hill School than Central School(Victor Scott) She also took extra lessons with Mr. Victor Outerbridge to obtain her teachers certificate.
She began her early teaching career at the Cripple gate School in 1947 where she remained until 1951. She then did a short stint at the Harrington Sound School. Her final placement was at Central School where she worked until 1990.
Ms. Godwin did not hesitate to give of her self and knowledge. In her community she worked as a youth leader.
To her credit: In 1984 she was recognized for her work at the Cripple Gate School .
In 1987 she received a plaque from the Ministry of Education for valuable Service.
In 1991 a certificate of Appreciation from Bermuda reading Council and in 1996 Maritime Regional Committee certificate for dedicated service.
She was a leader of the Bermuda Girls in Training for 50 years and for this she not only received a plaque but also a letter of honourable mention from the House of assembly. She was a member of the reading Association.
Ms. Godwin was an ardent worshiper of the Wesley Methodist Church in Hamilton and Emmanuel Methodist in Southampton. She braved the work and completed the task. Well done to a good and faithful servant.
Community & Church Worker
Mrs. Hyacinth Hughes Jones was one of the most ambitious and happy workers in the community one would have the pleasure to meet. Affectionately called ‘Hy’ by her closest friends she used her entrepreneurial skills to her advantage.
She had a charming personality and deep interest in the lives of others.
Hy developed her skill as a cook once she realized she had to feed a large family and always had invited guest in her home.
This flicked a little voice in her head maybe she should open up her own guest house and open a guest house she did. With a no-nonsense attitude, assisted by her father henry James Hughes who was an architect and building contractor she built on to her home to accommodate both family and friends coming to visit from overseas. Interestingly the guest house got its name from both her and her husband as people called him Everoy and not his given name so the name stood as HI-Roy Guest House
Hyacinth and Everard worked their guest house and made it a success. He was a Jazz lover but this didn’t stop him from being an expert baker. Hyacinth spent her early school days at Central school. She became a Brownie, Girl Guide, and later a Ranger. She prided her self on being a good student and as such she became a monitor in her class and house captain of her school sports team. She was spiritually inspired by the strong guidance of her father who was a Salvation Army Officer.
In her teen age years she worked as a Book binder at the Bermuda Press but this was only for a short period she later became a manager of the Kenwood Club where she worked for 15 years. Hyacinth’s ancestral line was from Saint Eustatius a Dutch country near St. Kitts. She was proud of that fact of her heritage. Her Granny Jane Sarah Elizabeth Hughes and grand father John Hughes were natives of that country and her granny was known for her famous ‘S’ cake, which persons from all over Bermuda would come to purchase. She kept the recipe for that cake a life long secret.
Hyacinth readily expressed her love for the church and became an ardent worshiper at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. She served as a Steward, President of the Mosley Club for progress, an overseer for the store house of God. She used her guest house to host many occasions for the church.In the community she served on the Pembroke Parish Council for several years this gave her the added joy of looking out for the seniors and needy of the parish. Her favorite saying was “leave it in my hands” and guaranteed anything left to her capable hands would turn out well. Hyacinth was a class act with a warming smile and giving heart. Bermuda lost a true community hero on her passing but God gained an ardent and faithful worker.
Her legacy was her love for music
Mrs. Marguerite Bassett Place was the daughter of Mr. John G. Bassett a well-known business man of his time. Marguerite was a great contributor to the community of Pembroke Parish. Much of her work revolved around the youth in the community. She was an ardent worker at St. Paul’ A. M. E. Church in Bermuda. Affectionately known as “Mama Megs” she was highly respected among her counterparts.
She was a member of the St. Paul Gospel Choir and one could often hear her soprano voice ringing out among the other choir members. She had a constant smile and was among the first persons to join the Choir which was organized by the Rev. E. N. Thornley. While serving on the Conference Board of Christian Education of the Church she became the Directress of the Allen Camp for several years.She later became a Junior Choir Director a position she held for 20 years. She was a writer and produced several skits. Her most notable work was seen in the Women’s Temperance Union.
In 1989 she was chosen as the first black president of the World Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She was proposed by the Australian delegation to run as first vice president in 1991-92 Conference. In June 1992 she was elected the fourth president of the World’s Christian Temperance Union in Sweden. She was a recipient of the Sojourner Truth Award in 1993 from the Bermuda Business and Professional Women’s Club. In June 1998 she received the M.B.E. from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth as a member of the British Empire.
Well done Mama Megs” May your legacy always be remembered.
BERMUDA BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION: It would be interesting to find out just how many of our young Bermudians know about the Bermuda Benevolent Association. It was several years ago that I myself was made aware of it and how fascinating it was to find out the names of so many Bermudian families that migrated to other parts of the world and especially the United States. Interestingly the first name came to the fore was that of the Founder of the Bermuda Benevolent Association Bermudian Clarence William Robinson. Though his foresight the foundation of this Association was laid. Though his influence many well-known compatriots became sincere, faithful and useful members. He served as President of the Association for ten years and six years as the chairman of the Trustee Board as the organization grew in strength and membership.
This was not the only contributions of Mr. Robinson. He served as a lay reader of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of New York for twenty-seven years. He served eighteen years as lay Chaplain of the Riverside Orphan Home and organized the Chorus Club which raised funds for the benefit of the Children of Riverdale. He dedicated lots of his time to support the child Welfare and Police Athletic activities.
Mr. Robinson passed away in April 1938 on a visit to his home here in Bermuda. Bermudians in American should always remember the contributions of Brother Clarence William Robinson and say thank God for his vision. As should Bermudians in his homeland have the desire to learn about the contributions made by our fellow Bermudians from years gone by.
THE BERMUDA BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION : from my research of it would make any Bermudian proud to be associated with the organization. In 1997 it entered its Second Century of service.
At the end of the 1800s, many Bermudians were seeking to broaden their horizons and migrated in large numbers to what they refer to as the land of opportunity. New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Pre-eminent amongst them were Clarence W. Robinson, George L. Joell and William A Jones. They met in New York and discussed the idea of forming a Society of Bermudians. The result of their collective efforts was the formation in 1887 of the Bermuda Benevolent Association. Brother Robinson was the moving spirit . Described as a man of Sterling Character he led this Association through its formative years. Early officers were George L Joell as First President and he served until 1899; Edward R. Darrell, Treasurer, Miss Elmyra Caisey, Recording Secretary and Mr. Robinson filling the position as Financial Secretary until 1909 when he took over the position as President untill 1919. Research shows that under his leadership the Association grew in strength, prestige and service. Several other Bermudians served in significant roles in the Association and held membership. Such persons as Elton E. Bean who served as President for forty-seven years and sixty-nine years of membership. He was one of the first persons to meet Ms.Marjorie Bean(who acquired the status of Dame) on her way to Wilberforce University in 1928. Some other members were C. Gerald Butterfield, Esten Curtis, Frederick Key who served at one time in the Independent Order of Oddfellows in Bermuda. The Association was incorporated in 1920; it purchased its home and Headquarters in 1932 at 402 West 146th Street; and burned its mortgage in 1947; formed a Juvenile Branch in 1932 and a Young Adults group in 1955. They didn’t stop there; before the event of free education in Bermuda, a scholarship to the Berkeley Institute was established and a substantial donation was made towards the establishment of a Science Department; The Association became a Life Member of the National Advancement of Coloured People; they setup an investment Committee in 1955 to prepare themselves for any future financial assistance they may need. Interesting to note was the large role the Association played in both overseas States and Bermuda. Amongst some events of the Association as it travelled through Milestone after Milestone are many noteworthy contributions. The Association contributed to many well-known Charitable Organizations. Their mandate was similar to that of the many Orders of Friendly Societies here in Bermuda. They took care and assisted families during hard times and burials. Contributions were made annually to Packwood Home, Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Home and Pembroke Rest Home . They contributed to A. Copeland Simmons Scholarship Fund of Allen Temple AME Church Somerset all located here in Bermuda. With many of their membership it showed they may have gone of in search of greener pastures but they never forgot their roots. Like many organizations they struggle to keep their dream alive with a connection for Bermudians and non-Bermudians living in overseas lands.This seems to be taking place with many of our black institutions world-wide. Yet we can be assured that as Bermudians we can boast of an Association and Historical connection to our many ancestors,brothers and sisters and give thanks for the foresight of the Founders of this Organization and their contributions so many years ago to our History.