Solomon Augustus Hibbert


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Introduction & Historical Background

Family

We recall that our family originated from Featherbed Lane, a very marginal unproductive land in the Parish of St. Catherine just west of neighboring Kingston.  Feather Bed Lane near Spanish Town, is said to have been named by someone with a sense of humour because in the early history of this lane it was so rough for motorcar traffic that it was anything but a feather bed to travel on.

Solomon Augustus Hibbert, affectionately known as “Pappy” to his grandchildren was said to have been born in 1873. Currently we have no confirming information of Solomon’s mother but a recently obtained marriage certificate reveals Solomon’s father to be Robert Henry Hibbert.

We recall the names of Solomon’s siblings as Tabal, Zachius, Mildred, Mabel, Isaiah, Nathan and Hezekiah. However, a talk with Hezekiah’s youngest son, Selvyn, who is now in his 80’s, suggests that his father was actually Solomon’s cousin, not brother. Incidentally, Selvyn bears a striking resemblance to Solomon and his family also originated from Featherbed Lane.

According to the Solomon’s marriage certificate he was 64 when he married Theodora Elizabeth Marques (“Elizabeth” or “Nana”). The certificate also confirms their marriage date and location as December 18, 1941 at The East Queens Baptist Church, one of several historic churches in Kingston. Their marriage official was Father Cavell Lloyd and witnesses were; Son in Law, Leslie Madden and a person that we assume to be a friend by the name of G. Hudson. If the information on his marriage certificate stands true, Solomon’s birth year would be in 1877 not 1873. Further verification needs to be done.

We have not confirmed Solomon’s total number of children but we do know that at the time of their marriage Elizabeth had already given birth to eleven, two of them (Violet and Icilda who migrated to Panama) being from previous relationships. The other nine children’s names were Robert Herman (Uncle Herman), Huntley Ezekiel (Uncle Zeek) b.1903, Hazel (Mother May), Lucille (Aunt Culu), Hannah (Aunt Queenie) b.1909, Joslyn (Uncle Jos) b.1910, Theophilus (Uncle T), Sydney (Uncle Munoz) and Rudolph George. A recently obtained birth and death certificate shows that Rudolph George died as an infant. All of the following children listed have passed away with the latest death being Joslyn in 1994. If Solomon had children from other arrangements it may be possible that this generation still has living members. More research will confirm or deny. 

Pappy did have a son named Aston who was not Nana’s child. The only information that we recall about Aston is that he migrated to Cuba and was never heard from after that. We believe that Aston was a product of a family of more than one child that Solomon had prior to meeting Elizabeth. It is said that this prior family is from Old Harbour. Children from this arrangement are unknown and not confirmed but many who were at Pappy’s funeral witnessed a bus load of Hibberts described as looking like “Coolies”. Stories can be embellished so who knows if it was a bus load or just a couple of people.

Solomon and Elizabeth lived on Hanna Street west of the gully beside the Palm Beach Hotel in Hannah Town. Later they moved to at 8 Upper Oxford Street in Kingston where they spent the rest of their lives.

Attributes

Solomon died 8 years after his wife in 1964 at the age of 91 with no known illnesses. He was buried in May Pen Cemetery in West Kingston. It was his son-in-law Leslie and daughter Hazel Hibbert Madden, founders of Madden Funeral Services who handled his funeral. Pappy was tall and lanky. At least 4 of the Moncrieffe’s (off springs of Hannah) were born with that lanky look. He wore a huge handlebar moustache which he would wax and curl. Most of his grandchildren were actually frightened by his moustache. He had high cheekbones which are found in many of his off springs. Pappy wore braces (suspender’s to keep up his trousers). He had soft wavy hair which members of the family who knew him attributes to what they were told to be from his Indian ancestry. Many of his offspring carried these traits including Lucille who took on the name of “Cullu” a corruption of the word coolie (a West Indian term for “of Indian look or descent”). 

Career

Solomon was a soldier in the British West Indian Regiment during World War I and was stationed at Port Royal.  We were told that he never saw active duty because he had too many children. Later he became an Apiarist (Beekeeper; a manufacturer of honey) and at all accounts, the families’ first entrepreneur. It was an Article in the March 19, 1920 Gleaner that documents Solomon as being elected to serve on the committee for the Bee Keepers Union. During his years as a Beekeeper, Solomon transported his goods using dray cart and mule to Spanish Town and Old Harbour every week leaving on Tuesdays and returning on Saturdays. The distance from Kingston where he now lived and Featherbed Lane in Spanish Town is about 20 but not more than 25 miles due west. In those days it would have been like travelling 4,000 miles today by car. If the weather was good it could take about five hours, but if the weather was bad, much longer and if in fact there were serious rainy weather conditions he would have to turn back, because bridges were either nonexistent or poorly constructed. From one of his granddaughters own recollections he was not at home during the 1951 Hurricane “Charlie” (Friday August 17, 1951) and she can’t recall seeing him during the aftermath so he must have stayed over at Feather Bed Lane. Inns and places to rest and refresh were few and not for poor people. The famous Ferry Inn is en route and it got its fame because Lady Nugent the wife of a former English Governor stayed there and mentioned it in her journals. Can you imagine our ancestor being allowed to even look in at the gates?

How a poor businessman managed to get in newspaper coverage is beyond our imagination but articles that we have read suggested that he was extremely active and involved, often appearing in court defending or countersuing in the name of his profession. One court case chronicled in a November 1924 Gleaner shows a young Norman Manley as his council.

Legacy

Solomon and Elizabeth gave each of us our DNA but they also gave us something more important. They gave us their values and emotional spirit. By the standards of which wealth was judged, they were very poor, but there is something else of which they endeavored which is our common heritage and strength of character. They taught us that we could admire what others had but we could not envy them. We are expected to achieve through a reliance on industry, hard work, and education and most importantly, trust in God. Originating from humble beginnings, our Family is now a dynamic group of Jamaicans who have migrated to other parts of the world. Among the descendants are hard workers and achievers, professionals, business men and women, doctors, engineers, pilots, accountants and lawyers. Sure enough, our family has risen immensely from the atrocities of slavery. We account for over 180 surnames that are all connected with an unrelenting desire to raise the bar for ourselves and our future generations. The progress of our family is attributed to the foundation laid by our rich ancestry and no doubt our Jamaican pride. The way we have chosen to come together with our family reunions is a testament to our commitment to continue to raise the bar and give our future generations the tools needed to succeed.

Articles About Solomon
In the PDF’s type “Hibbert” in the find box to locate the story about Solomon.

March 19, 1920 – Gleaner
May 27, 1923 – Gleaner
October 19, 1923 – Gleaner
May 9, 1924 – Gleaner
June 12, 1924 – Gleaner
June 22, 1924 – Gleaner
July 18, 1924 - Gleaner
November 1924 – Gleaner




 
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