Feb27

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In an effort to find some clues to some of my wife’s family lines during the early settlement of Cape Breton, I began to read through the St. George Church records page by page. Her 4x-great-grandmother Elizabeth Grandy, in particular, has so far offered few clues as to her origin, so I am hoping to perhaps find more of her family in order to expand my search and determine whether her family was Irish, French or of the Channel Islands (all possibilities I have seen mentioned by others online.)

While paging through the Baptisms, Marriages, Burials 1785-1824 records for St. George Church I did find another Grandy marriage for a woman that could potentially be a sister of the person I am researching. During this process, I read through the usual sets of general BMD records, with most being cursory entries with a name and date, at best.

If you really want to gain an understanding of an area at a certain time, reading through all of the entries tracing lives and deaths is a very helpful and interesting method of doing so. However, it can also often be a sad endeavor.

In the course of paging through the entries of people who were European emigrants and their children, I also found regular entries interspersed for “negro” adults being baptized, as well as children with only mothers being named.

Then I read an unusually long and detailed entry. The priest obviously thought this event warranted more detail, as you can see from the outrage in his entry:

Diana Bastian Burial Entry

“Sept 15th 1792

Buried Diana Bastian a Negro Girl belonging to Abraham Cuyler Esq in the 15th year of her Age, She was Deluded and ruined (^at government ???) by George More Esq. the Naval Officer and one of Govr. Macarmick’s Counsel by whom she was pregnant with Twins and delivered off but one of them; She most earnestly implored the favor of Mr. More’s Brother, [the local] Justice to be admitted to her oath, concerning her pregnancy by him; but was refused that with every other assistance by him or them.”

Digging a bit more, I see I am not the first to have noticed the entry as it is mentioned in a few papers posted online such as “The Struggle over Slavery in the Maritime Colonies“. (Also, this biography of Abraham Cuyler is less than flattering.)

Despite the event having occurred 225 years ago, one can’t help but feel terrible for this poor girl’s circumstance and add our own outrage to the treatment those in power subjected her to.

Once again I’ve found that even individual records not directly related to those you research can provide dimension to the lives of our ancestors by helping depict the social and political climate of a particular time and the hardships some or all endured.

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