My “Valentine’s” baby is my 3rd g-great grandfather Francis Shave Jr. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shave-113
b 14 February 1782 in Ringwood, Hampshire, England. Francis was the eldest child of five, and his parents, Francis Sr. and Ann Corbin, jumped the gun a bit, for they weren’t married until the following 1 October in the larger parish church at Christchurch.
What makes Francis’ story a bit unusual is that his father Francis Sr. began life as a mixed-blood Native American/Northeast African slave in Jamaica. Francis’ father was taken from his mother at the age of five or six and sent to England to serve as a “Page”.
Pages were a sort of ‘fashion accessory’ to wealthy women in the 18th Century. These little boys, chosen for their beauty, were dressed in extravagant livery and trailed behind their ladies (the wealthier the lady the more pages) carrying her parasol, lapdogs, parcels, and whatever else she wanted brought along.
Almost without exception England’s “Great Houses” of the 18th centuries were built, expanded and supported by the Jamaican sugar trade. There were a dozen such Great Houses in Hampshire alone, one of them, Sopley Manor, only a half mile from Kingston, Ringwood, Hampshire.
As pages grew into adolescence they might be dispatched to work in the stables, the gardens, the maintenance crews or the scullery, or sent back to Jamaica to work in the cane fields. Though under English law they were not technically "slaves", they were not paid, nor free, and it was against English law to teach a Jamaican servant a trade. But the occasional Lord and Lady developed a deep fondness for a boy, and wished him well. Under such circumstances a quiet arrangement might be made with a village family, usually a tradesman who could use the added labour of a healthy teenaged boy. A stipend was paid to the tradesman’s family, the teenager was baptized as their son in the village church, learned the family trade, married a village girl and went on to lead the life of a working class Briton.
One can only begin to imagine the disbelief and joy with which Francis Sr. must have found himself, not only a free man, but taken in by one of the English Shave families in the area, baptized and given their name, wed to an English wife and the father of a family of English children who were as accepted by the community as any other.
Francis Jr. married Lydia Lockyer https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Lockyer-287
at the age of 20, and they went on to raise a family of 11 children, one of which was my 2nd great grandfather Robert Henry Shave, to whom he taught the craft of thatching.
In the 1851 English Census he is found living next door to Robert and family In Kingston, Ringwood, Hants. He is a 62-year-old widower, whose occupation is “Formerly Thatcher”
Francis Jr. passed from this world on the 4 Dec 1858 in Kingston, Ringwood, Hampshire and is buried in the churchyard of St. Paul’s Church, Bisterne, the church which serves Kingston.
We had no clue that my great-grandmother Susan Ann Shave was 1/4 Native American/Northeast African until in September 2016 at the 63rd Annual Cavel Family Reunion we decided to test all of William John Cavel https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Cavel-10
and Susan Ann Shave’s https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shave-104
11 surviving great-grandchildren. Another dozen or so gg-grandchildren also tested.
Since I have both Native (Tuscarora, Lenape and Mohawk) and African ancestry I’d never questioned the stretches of Native and African DNA on my chromosomes. But I administered the Cavel/Shave project and when my cousins’ results began returning, all with matching stretches of Native and African DNA that could have come from the only ancestry we shared we were stunned.
I had documented all our Cavel/Shave lines with the help of cousins still living in the area my great-grandparents left in 1872. I still have the meticulously copied parish records, marriages, births, deaths from trips to Winchester in the early 1980s to consult parish records stored there. The Cavels, married, birthed, baptized and died on a Swiss timetable. No slipping an errant 16-year-old in on them. On one baptismal record the priest has written in crabbed little letters, “This child has grown to eight months before being presented for baptism!” One gets the idea he did not approve. LOL
Francis Sr.’s baptism puzzled us from the beginning. His “parents” were too young to have a 16-year-old child. If he was a relative why would he have been baptized as their child? Many from the area went off to the Newfoundland Banks and only returned once every four or five years, so you find couples marrying and baptizing three or four children in a single day. But never this. We were perplexed. Where did this 16-year-old boy come from. And no, the 16 wasn’t a 6 - he fathered a child six years later and married soon after.
But here’s a case where DNA, and several months of research along with consulting with British historians who specialize in the history of slavery in 18th Century England, very unexpectedly, solved a long-standing puzzle.
I don’t know if Valentine’s Day was celebrated in Britain in the 1780s’ but I’m sure young Francis was the best Valentine’s Day gift Francis Shave Sr. ever got.