In the sixth episode of Series Three of The Family Histories Podcast – THE MATRIARCH, host Andrew meets family historian Yetunde Abiola to find out how she got hooked on researching her family’s history, and what kind of challenges and differences there are when tracing Nigerian and Jamaican ancestry, and what family history means to her.
Listen to the episode
The Life Story:
Agnes Ancita Chambers
Yetunde’s choice of Life Story is that of her 2x Great Grandmother, Agnes Ancita Chambers.
Agnes was born in 1867 towards the end of slavery, to a Robert Chambers and Frances Young in Wild Cane, St. Ann, in Jamaica.
Seamstress Agnes married business man Charles Adolphus Williams (more on him later) in the Moravian church in Manchester, Jamaica, and after moving away to a remote area, they became parents 15 times.
Charles sadly died in 1920, but undeterred, Agnes continued to stand as an independent and matriarchal figure – not only for her own family, but also in her community, as she continued to build upon the life she had with Charles, to care for those around her. She never re-married, allowing her to continue holding on to her family’s land for another 35 years, eventually passing it down to her children.
The adoration and respect for Agnes is very clear from the evidence Yetunde has found through her research, and that is also heard in Yetunde’s own voice.
The Brick Wall:
Charles Adolphus Williams
We’re heading to Manchester, Jamaica for Yetunde’s research Brick Wall – her 2x Great Grandfather – Charles Adolphus Williams – born approximately 1863 – and the husband of her beloved Agnes mentioned earlier.
Charles was a ‘planter’, meaning that he held and farmed land, and Yetunde has seen evidence that cleary states that he was a staunch Moravian man. Charles also seems to have had a number of brothers – Frederick, David, Benjamin, and Henry Williams, as well as sisters – but whilst all the brothers note a Robert Williams as being their father, Yetunde wonders whether this is true, as she cannot find their birth certificates.
Yetunde has some questions about his early life, as he seems to have lived an elusive life – and there’s no surviving photograph of him. Her only evidence is his marriage in 1889 in Manchester, Jamaica, his death in 1920, and his Will, but these don’t answer Yetunde’s questions. Can you help?
- When and where was Charles born (and where are the birth certificates)?
- Who were his parents?
- Were the rest of the Williams brothers full siblings?
If you think you can help Yetunde with breaking through that annoying Brick Wall, then you can send her a message via the email she quotes in the episode, or via our Contact Form (and we’ll pass it on to her).
Yetunde jumped at Andrew’s offer of help, but not everything goes to plan….
Series Three, Episode Six
- Andrew Martin: Host & Producer
- Yetunde Abiola: Guest
- John Spike: Sándor Petőfi