By Rosemary Bailey
This article was published in the December 2017 edition of Soul Search, the Journal of The Sole Society
I came across a Sewall and a Shoul on two recent holidays. The Sewall was Robert Sewall who was a judge at the Salem Witch Trials. More about that experience later, but first, from four centuries later, brothers John Ferdie and Anthony Shoul
Last year when on holiday in Antigua we decided to have a car for a day and take a tour round the Island. As well as visiting Nelson’s Dockyard (well worth a visit) we also visited Bettys Hope Mill, an old sugar plantation with restored windmills and small museum.
The Windmill at Bettys Hope Mill
On the side of one of the windmills was a sign that said ‘Bettys Hope Mill, donated by John Ferdie Shoul and Anthony Shoul, 1994’. I emailed Maureen Storey, Sole Research Co-ordinator to see if she knew anything about this family in Antigua and she replied:
I don’t have any records for Antigua but there’s quite a bit about the recent generations of Shouls on the web. It seems that Anthony and John Ferdinand Shoul were the sons of Khallil Shoul and Salma Amenia Shoul, so presumably had Indian ancestry. Sir John Ferdinand Shoul founded Shoul’s department store on the island in the 1930s and he appears in the Queen’s New Years Honours List in 1967 (www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/44210/supplement/24/data.pdf) – not sure if that was the knighthood or something else, he appears near the beginning of the page and the relevant heading is on the previous page – if you look a bit further down the list you’ll see it includes a Solly). He was born in 1911 and died in 2000. He had a son, also called John Ferdinand Shoul
So not strictly relevant to our society, but perhaps of general interest.
Bettys Hope Mill was Antigua’s pioneer sugar plantation and was founded in about 1650. The founder of Bettys Hope was Governor Keynell, whose widow inherited the estate upon his death in 1663, but was forced to flee Antigua during the French occupation in 1666. When Antigua was reoccupied by the British a year later Betty’s Hope was granted to Christopher Codrington, then residing in Barbados and seemingly a big cheese in the Caribbean at the time.
Under the Codrington family’s ownership, which lasted until 1944, Betty’s Hope was soon transformed into one of the most efficient large-scale sugar estates in Antigua.
Like other large plantations, Bettys Hope was an industrial as well as an agricultural enterprise with the two windmills used to crush sugar cane.
Supervised by a handful of European managers hundreds of African slaves lived endured great hardship cultivating and processing the sugar until emancipation in 1834.
This summer we had a few days in Boston and hired a car to visit Salem, the town where the infamous Witch Trials took place in 1692 and 1693. Salem has really cashed in the trials, with shops selling all kinds of related paraphernalia and lots of night time spooky guided tours. However there are a few interesting attractions. We visited a live re-enactment of the trial of Bridget Bishop, the first person executed which was excellent. We also visited the House of the Seven Gables, a 1668 colonial mansion made famous by American author Nathanial Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables and it was there that I came across reference to Samuel Sewall.
The House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts where there is a photo of Judge Samuel Sewall and a reference from his journal
Samuel Sewall, apologies for angle of picture. I had to lean over a barrier to take it!
There was a copy of a portrait of him with the annotation ‘The only one of the judges to have apologised’. Elsewhere in the house was information about Groaning Beer which was served to a woman in labour to fortify her. There was a note that, in Samuel Sewell’s journal, dated February 21st 1677 he had written ‘Brewed my wives groaning beer’.
We found another reference to Samuel while in Boston when we visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground which was first used in 1659. On a notice board we found details of Captain Thomas Lake who was buried there in 1676 having been killed in a Native American uprising. It was noted that Samuel Sewall wrote in his diary:
We heard amazing newes of sixty persons killed at Quinebeck, by barbourous Indians of which were Captain Lake, Mr Collicot Mr Padeshell.
During the attack the Captain fled the trading post (presumably Quinebeck), but was later captured and killed, with his frozen body only being found sometime later and buried at Copp’s Hill. It is said that the shot from his body was melted and poured into the gravestone.
Looking back at the Society website Samuel has been mentioned before, in greatest detail in a 2008 article entitled Trick or Treat by Tony Storey. Part of Tony’s article is reproduced overleaf and gives brief details of the facts surrounding the trial and biographical details of Samuel.