Read about the people of, and related to, our island
“I judge people by what they might be, not are, nor will be.”
Robert Browning, in ‘The Speed of Darkness’ (1968)
History, they say, is not about events; it’s about people. This is a subset of our Island Detail pages which covers items related to St Helena people.
If there is something about St Helena’s people that we have not covered please contact us and we’ll try to add it in.
Go to: Information Index • Community Pages • Boer Prisoners (1900-1902) • Characters of St Helena • Exiles • Family And Friends • Famous Visitors • The Friendly Societies • Ghost Stories of St Helena • The Governor of St Helena • Important People • ‘Local’? • Memories of St Helena • Napoleon Bonaparte • Napoleonic Bicentenary • Nicknames • Saint Helena • Our Sister Islands • Slaves and slavery • Origins of island surnames • Titbits from the records • Zzyzx
It’s what’s happening…
Home-from-home - almost
Eccentric? Colourful? Mad? Criminal? You decide…
Not all our visitors wanted to be here!
How to find people on St Helena
Let’s drop a few names
Lending a hand
Don’t look round, but…
The one at the top
They made their mark
Isn’t that everything?
“Well, back in the day…”
His imprisonment, his death, and some things you maybe don’t know about him
A reason to celebrate…
Who on earth is ‘Gavin Ellick’?
She gave our island her name
Part of our Territory
Part of what makes us what we are
How islanders got their family names
To amuse and inform
Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere
Article: “Family life”
From the 2002 Master’s thesis in Human Geography, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, by Maarten Hogenstijn and Daniël van Middelkoop, Page 63
The family is what holds Saint Helenian society together. Relatives help each other with odd jobs or goods all the time, and the flow of remittances is through family relations. Family is a favourite topic of conversation and an important source of identity. What family you are from determines to a large extent what place you will occupy in society. It is the first source of identification, as French consul Michel Martineau stresses: “You will hear that if you ask someone who is he or who is she, they will always classify the person by which family he or she belongs to. The first son of, you know. Or, he belongs to this branch. I mean just ask around, who is that, and they will tell family. The individual identity only comes through that. It never works from friendship. They will never tell he is a friend of.”
The importance of family life is stressed in many ways. Many people spend Sundays with family. If you go out on Saint Helena, it will often be with the whole family. At Donny’s Club for example, there is always a children’s disco before the adult disco starts on Friday or Saturday nights. A ‘Family day out’ is often organised. Families go out picnicking on Horse Pasture or at Lemon Valley in weekends. As an outsider, you are very lucky to get invited to such occasions. Bishop John comments: “I am lucky, because at Christmas I get invited to family celebrations and it’s not just mother-father-children, but it is more what I would call an extended family. It’s far more close-knit here that it would be say in the UK, where the nucleus tends to be just father, mother children. Whereas here, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters all tend to live in the same area.”A comment that is often heard informally is that “everyone is related to everyone else”. This is especially true in outlying districts like Blue Hill or Levelwood, where people tended to marry within their districts. But even in total the number of families on the island is not that great. The phone book listed 153 different family names. But six family names together accounted for a third of the total number of entries.
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