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Island People

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 Information 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.

Below: Pages • Read More

Island People


The Pages

Random People Page:

Information Index
Start here… • This is the master index of all our island information pages

Community Pages
It’s what’s happening… • This is an index to our pages relating to community groups and activities.

Subject Index
These are the pages you are searching for • All good books contain an index…

Terms used • Here are some terms used on St Helena or within Saint Helena Island Info that we thought might benefit from further explanation

Image Search
Find images on our site • This page provides a facility to find images on our site

Recording images of St Helena • Many artists have turned their talents to making a visual record of St Helena

Betsy Balcombe
Napoleon’s Friend • Napoleon’s relationship with a young girl has led to much speculation, but what do we really know?

The ‘Blue Book’
The Annual Colonial Report • The ‘Blue Book’s are a valuable reference for the history of St Helena, 1845-1973

Boer Prisoners (1900-1902)
Home-from-home? Not really… • From 1900 to 1902 St Helena became the first overseas prisoner-of-war camp.

A Brief History
How we got to here • A lot has happened on St Helena in its !-year history. Here are the highlights.

Characters of St Helena
Eccentric? Colourful? Mad? You decide… • Some of the island’s residents have been a little outside the normal…

Comparative History
Here and there • This is where we set our earlier history into context (from 1500-1899)

Dark Tourism
Visiting the darker parts of our history. • Like everywhere else, our history has its darker parts.

Duke of Edinburgh Playground
For Kids; For Everyone • An important recreational space in the heart of Jamestown

The Three ‘R’s • Unusually, St Helena was quite advanced in its attitude to education

The ones that got away • Nowadays people want to get here, but that wasn’t always the case

Not all our visitors wanted to be here! • St Helena has had some visitors who were not at all pleased to be here…

Family And Friends
How to find people on St Helena • If you want to trace long lost relatives or friends on St Helena, or just find a pen-pal, here are some tips.

Famous Visitors
Let’s drop a few names • Over the years St Helena has had many famous visitors . You can read about some of them here.

The First Battle For St Helena?
Well, maybe… • The English settled ‘uninhabited’ St Helena in 1659, but about 35 years before did they actually fight to conquer it?

The Friendly Societies
Lending a hand • Before Social Security there were the Friendly Societies

Ghost Stories of St Helena
Don’t look round, but… • St Helena has more than its share of ghost stories.

For the people, by the people? • St Helena is now almost completely a democracy…

The Governor of St Helena
The Crown’s official representative • The Governor of St Helena is the representative of the British monarch.

Historians of St Helena
Recording our past • Over the years various people have taken it upon themselves to document the history of our island. Here we introduce some of them.

Important People
They made their mark • Several people really made their mark in the lives of the people of St Helena. Some are featured below…

It’s the economy, stupid • St Helena has never been economically self-sufficient; but it wasn’t for the want of trying.

Isn’t that everything? • You could argue that, on a small island like St Helena, everything is ‘local’. But you’d be wrong…

Memories of St Helena
‘Well, back in the day…’ • This page contains short stories written by people who visited St Helena long ago, recalling their visits.

Myths Debunked!
Everybody knows that… • While researching for this website we were told many things that ‘everybody knows’, many of which proved to be untrue. We detail them here.

With some things you maybe don’t know about him • Napoleon Bonaparte may have made St Helena famous but how much do you actually know about him?

Napoleonic Bicentenary
A reason to celebrate… • Napoleon Bonaparte lived on St Helena from October 1815 to May 1821.

Who on earth is ‘Gavin Ellick’? • Because we have so few surnames, most people have nicknames.

Kings and Queens • Here we set our history into the context of the monarchs reigning in England/Britain

Saint Helena
She gave our island her name • St Helena Island is named after Saint Helena, a Christian saint. But who was she? What did she do? And why does our island bear her name ? If you like mysteries, read on…

Maybe it’s a state of mind? • Saints are renowned for their warm, friendly and welcoming attitude to visitors, but what are we like to live amongst?

Our Sister Islands
Part of our Territory • Administratively St Helena is part of a three-island Territory: St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Slaves and slavery
Part of what makes us what we are • Although St Helena is best known for the liberation of slaves, its earlier history is rather darker. Read about both below, and also about the impact of slavery on St Helena today.

Exploring Space
To the stars and beyond • What could St Helena possibly have to do with space exploration?

Origins of island surnames
How islanders got their family names • The surnames on St Helena are as curious as the ancestry of its people.

Titbits from the records
To amuse and inform • We quote elsewhere extensively from the Records, and here are some items that are interesting but didn’t fit in anywhere else.

Unrest and Rebellion
We’re not gonna take it! • St Helena today is peaceful, welcoming and friendly, but it wasn’t always considered so.

A Very Brief History
The most important bits • The shortest accurate history possible without missing anything important

Get Married Here
A unique venue • If you want an unusual place for your wedding, choose St Helena.

Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere • A collection of items that, while about or related to St Helena, did not justify a page of their own or fit into any of our other pages.

If what you’re looking for isn’t in this index, please consult our Information Index page (the master index) or use the Page Search facility (below). We have some more advice on our About This Site page.

The Art of Biography is different from Geography
Geography is about Maps, but Biography is about Chaps.


Read More

Below: Article: Family life • Films by Green Renaissance

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{1}

St Helena people

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 Dancoisne-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.

Films by Green Renaissance

In 2018 a team from Green Renaissance made a number of short films about St Helena, but instead of focussing on the scenery and sights, they focussed on the people. The films make fascinating viewing and you might say they feature modern-day local characters. You can view them on the Green Renaissance website.


Laugh at funny Island People humour - LOL

{1} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

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