The Barrell Family were noted merchants and businessmen in London and in Colonial Demerara, now part of Guyana. Theodore Barrell, the son of Walter Newberry Barrell, a London-based businessman, was both in Boston in 1771. He spent most of his career working as a merchant in the Americas, including in Barbados where he met his wife Elizabeth Beckles Barrell (born November 18, 1783) and in Demerara. Theodore Barrell died in Saugerties, New York in 1846.
Theodore Barrell has a brief biography in Bram Hoonhout’s “Borderless Empire : Dutch Guiana in the Atlantic World, 1750-1800”.
Summary: Letter book, 1798-1803, with correspondence to business associates in London, Barbados, etc., as well as letters to relatives and friends on personal affairs, and life in Guiana. Includes many letters to William and Samuel Jones, London; Walter Barrell, London; William Gill and Samuel Went, Barbados.
Publication Date: 1798
Description: 1 v. (182 p.)
Looks like I need to make a trip to the Columbia University archives!
In 2015, Bram Hoonhout, then a PhD student working on the 18th century history of Essequibo and Demerara, alerted me to the existence of references to Hendrik, Jan and Nicolaas van Cooten in the letterbooks of Theodore Barrell, a merchant in Demerara.
He was able to supply images, and my transcription is now available here. The page image is made available with the permission of the New York Historical Society.
Bram has now published his history – “Borderless Empire : Dutch Guiana in the Atlantic World, 1750-1800”. The description at bookdepository.com reads:
Borderless Empire explores the volatile history of Dutch Guiana, in particular the forgotten colonies of Essequibo and Demerara, to provide new perspectives on European empire building in the Atlantic world. Bram Hoonhout argues that imperial expansion was a process of improvisation at the colonial level rather than a project that was centrally orchestrated from the metropolis. Furthermore, he emphasizes that colonial expansion was far more transnational than the oft-used divisions into “national Atlantics” suggest. In so doing, he transcends the framework of the “Dutch Atlantic” by looking at the connections across cultural and imperial boundaries.
The openness of Essequibo and Demerara affected all levels of the colonial society. Instead of counting on metropolitan soldiers, the colonists relied on Amerindian allies, who captured runaway slaves and put down revolts. Instead of waiting for Dutch slavers, the planters bought enslaved Africans from foreign smugglers. Instead of trying to populate the colonies with Dutchmen, the local authorities welcomed adventurers from many different origins. The result was a borderless world in which slavery was contingent on Amerindian support and colonial trade was rooted in illegality. These transactions created a colonial society that was far more Atlantic than Dutch.
Bram’s book has gone straight to my wishlist!
I’ll work through the information in the Theodore Barrell letters in future posts.
Great great grandfather William Thomas, in his handwritten autobiography of 1926, refers to his time on the railways in Wales in the early 1870s, and using the “Spagoletti speaking instrument.”
This turns out to be a form of the Single Needle Instrument developed by Charles Ernest Spagnoletti. I’ve found details of this at Sam Hallas’ page at http://www.samhallas.co.uk/railway/single_needle.htm. He gives an explanation and diagram of the code, which is a representation of morse code.
This confirms William’s recollection of the signalling code he learned as a youth.
The will of Hendrik Van Cooten (transcript) in 1825 implies that Hendrik had two sons, Cornelis and Hendrik, born out of wedlock, prior to his marriage to Dorothea Nicols.
The will says that Hendrik junior has “absented himself from Holland where he had been for his education so that no tidings from him have been received by me for several years.”
It turns out that Hendrik senior wasn’t the only person concerned about Hendrik junior’s whereabouts.
I’ve just found the following in Amsterdamse Courant of 10 May 1800, found in the MyHeritage Netherlands Newspapers, 1659-1899 collection.
Indien iemand met zekerheid weet naricht te geeven van het Verblyf, Leeven of Dood, van eenen HENDRIK VAN
COOTEN, van Demerary, in het Jaar 1794, als Matroos nebbende gediend onder Kapitein SIMON RYNTJES, doch in
Maart 1795, afgadankt, en federd zyn verblyf onbekend zynde, wordt verzocht zich en adresseeren by den Boekverkooper
J. TEN BRINK GZ., in de Warmoesstraat, over de St. Annastraat, zal daar voor eene belooning genieten.—Zullende ge-
melde HENDRIK VAN COOTEN, nog in leeven zynde, vriend lyk ontvaugen en gelegenne gegeven worden om na zyn
genoegen te kunnen worden geholpen, waneer zich dezelve in Persoon o per Missive, aan gein. Boekverkooper a levesfeerd.
If someone knows with certainty about the Residence, Life or Death, of a HENDRIK VAN
COOTEN, from Demerary, in the Year 1794, serving as a Sailor, serving under Captain SIMON RYNTJES, but in
March 1795, retired, and residence was unknown, are invited and addressed by the book seller
J. TEN BRINK GZ., In the Warmoesstraat, on the St. Annastraat, will be rewarded there for a reward.
pleasure to be helped when they are in person or per Missive. Book seller is supplied.
Hendrik senior was born in Doorn in 1750, and arrived in Demerara about 1773. Hendrik junior could well have been born not long after, which would feasibly have him at about 20 in 1794.
The J. ten Brink making the enquiry is quite probably Jan ten Brink, book store owner and publisher. Netherlands Wikipedia has an entry for him. I wonder why he was being enquired about? Did he owe money?
In searching the 19th Century English Newspapers for Maggie’s Gormans, we came across the following intriguing item in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle for July 13 1861:
William Taylor a respectably
dressed young man, was charged with stealing a hat on
the previous Sunday, at the Independent
Chapel, High-street, the property of Mr. George Gorman,
ship’s steward. Mr. Gorman attended service at the
Independent Chapel, High-street, on Sunday evening,
the 30th of June, and placed his hat, of the value of 13s.,
on the window ledge near where he was sitting. The
prisoner, a stranger to the congregation, was present, and
at the conclusion of the service, took the hat and walked
off. About an hour afterwards he was apprehended by
P. C. Littlefield, in the street, with the hat on his head.
He said he took it by mistake, but which could not be the
case, as he had only a cap with him when he went into
the chapel. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to six
weeks’ imprisonment with hard labour.
Just a random vignette, but which conveys much information about George Gorman and either pointers to further sources of information, or sufficient to match this person with other events – his name, occupation, the date, and his place of worship.
The first I would like to mention is the transcription of Guyana colonial newspapers being transcribed by John Wilmer. These are a valuable source of information for an area for which it is extremely difficult to obtain any primary sources.
I know its been quiet here for a while, but that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening on the family history research front. Over the next little while I’ll catch up with some of the progress that I’ve made on Maggie’s side of the family – Edwards, Gormans and Lacks. Stay tuned.
I have always wondered what the connection was between the Mr Rusher and the Van Cooten family.
I have recently discovered that Mr Rusher spent time on Guernsey. He was a student at Elizabeth College. His alumnus entry reads:
Trinity Term, 1835. 526. William Eaton Rusher, born Oxford, Jan 13th 1820, son of Dr. William Rusher (Oxford). Left 1837 Magdalen Hall, Oxford, B.A. (3rd class Classics) 1842, M.A. 1852. Afflicted with blindness and unable to follow any profession.
This makes William Rusher a contemporary of John Lucius Van Cooten. John Lucius’ eldest son John Rodolphus Van Cooten became a teacher at Elizabeth College from about 1878.
Someone contacted me recently trying to determine if he was connected to the Annie Jones lurking in the Van Cooten tree. The information I had for her was sparse, so the contact prompted me to do a little more research. Annie was the first wife of William John Fraser Van Cooten. The only information I had about her was from a couple of entries in a family bible. She died after giving birth to their first child Sylvester Fraser Van Cooten, who also died at birth. Knowing that the marriage in question took place in Queensland, I searched the Queensland historical marriages and found:
Subjects family name
Subjects given names
Other party’s names
William John Fraser
Sarah Ann Caroline Jones
Sarah Ann Caroline is obviously the person I had always heard referred to as “Annie”. Doing a search on deaths, I found:
Fathers given names
Sarah Ann Caroline
William John Fraser
Sarah Ann Caroline Jones
This confirms Annie’s full name, and also gives the names of her parents. Doing a search for births to David Jones and Amelia Williams gives:
Fathers given names
Sarah Anne Caroline
Thus “Annie” was born in Queensland along with three other brothers, one who possibly died at birth. Continuing this further, I decided to look for an immigration record for the Jones. These are available online for the years 1848 to 1884 in pdf form. In the pdf for “Johnston to Jones” I found that an Amelia Jones and a David Jones both arrived aboard the “Silver Eagle” on 7 June 1882. I then consulted the microfilm of the Queensland immigration records held at the State Library of Victoria.The “Silver Eagle” skippered by Captain Wright departed Plymouth 2nd March 1882 and arrived at Maryborough 7th June 1882. On board were:
born on voyage
This shows that the family were quite well established before emigration, and also gives an idea of ages for David and Amelia. I then looked in the British census records and found the family in the 1881 census for Newport, Monmouthshire, Wales. The residents of 11 Victoria Place were:
Wire warehouse man
William Frederick Jones
Francis Henry Jones
Margaret Amy Jones
Ada Eleanor Jones
These ages correspond quite well with those given in the immigration record, and the census also indicates that the family were all born in Wales.The final step I took was to look at the electoral records for Queensland. These show Amelia and David living at Macadam St, Maryborough, Queensland during the period 1913 to 1925. Amelia’s occupation is “home duties” and David is a carpenter. No other family members appear at the same address. Amelia and David would have been in their 70s at this time.
Although this family is a “dead end” as far as Van Cooten descendants goes, it was an interesting exercise to see how much information could be obtained, and gaps filled, in a relatively short space of time using resources readily available on the internet, and State Library of Victoria holdings.