Saturday, 28 April 2018

THE SECRET ETHIOPIAN CONNECTION IN OUR FAMILY TREE



Just me and 2 Ethiopian men I befriended from the Gamo tribe in South West Ethiopia, I told Abera (in the middle) the old family story I knew about the Ethiopian princess who was sold to Arab slave traders by her wicked step-mother (Empress Wallata Iyasus) unknown to their father (Emperor Egwale Seyon of the solomonic line - whose throne name was Newaya Sagad, and who was the weakest and most sickly Emperor of Ethiopia in the modern era, constantly manipulated by everyone), and who was re-sold in Egypt and finally ended up on the slave auction block in Guyana - where Dr. Johnson (the English great grandfather of great-grandpa Vivian Arnold De-Weever who descended maternally from that union through his mother) purchased her and her younger sister because he remarked that they were "Negroes of exceptional beauty, poise and dignity very different to the other slaves'" 
Abera (the Ethiopian translator) repeated my words to the 90 year old Ethiopian Goma Elder, and the elder became excited and told me (through the translator) "I heard the first half of that story from MY Elders, my heart is heavy with joy to meet someone from the other half of that story"....as the story of the Princesses who were sold to Arab slavers by the King's new wife was preserved among the Gamo (A Cushitic People), but no-one knew any more than that, I knew the rest of the story but could not find the first half confirmation, my sister Lisa even asked Haile Selassie's grandson Prince Ermias (when he visited Barbados some years ago) and asked them to check their own family records...but they could find nothing...of course not - because they were expunged from the royal records by their step-mother who made sure only the 5 subsequent children she had with the Emperor were in the royal records in Ethiopia (a common albeit malicious tendency in Royal politics). Suffice to say, I nearly cried to finally have resolution on this 200+ year old family story, but ALL of us descended from the union of De-Weever and Princess Marian of the Arawaks share this now confirmed Ethiopian Gamo Tribe royal lineage (through Grandpa De-Weever's blood), more reason to be proud of who we are and where we have come from.

If  I ever made a documentary of our  young beautiful Ethiopian great-great-great-great Grandmother I would ask someone like this young lady friend of mine Yassmin to play the role, as I think she has lovely Cushitic/Nilotic features and is the right height and body size for the part.
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Regarding the secret Ethiopian connection in our family tree – note that Vivian Arnold DeWever (your maternal Guyana-born granny’s father) was the son of Father Karl DeWeever (of Saba) and Eileen Johnson (of Guyana) who was a granddaughter of Dr. Morris Johnson and Princess Lydia of Ethiopia….here are the main dates in your family tree with relevance to this connection to Ethiopia:

  • 1580 – Thomas Warner is born in Suffolk England, he joined the Army at an early age and became Captain of King James I Guards, he was also later knighted by King James I.
  • 1620 Sir Thomas Warner traveled to the Oyapoc British Colony in what is now Guyana, South America.
  • 1624 Sir Thomas Warner becomes the first English Settler in the Caribbean (St. Kitts)
  • 1787 Princess Lydia Seyon is born in Ethiopia to Prince Egwale Seyon (who became Emperor Newaya Sagad in 1801) – who was a sickly and very much manipulated monarch. Her sister (name unknown to us) was born in 1789.
  • 1803 Dr. Morris Johnson of Barbados purchased a ‘coffee colored with long wavy hair of striking beauty‘ -16 year-old slave who was an Ethiopian Princess called Lydia and her younger sister who was 14 – and made Lydia his wife; her younger sister acted the role of nanny/maid in the plantation estate he soon thereafter purchased in Guyana (possibly in Berbice?) where he moved his family to (after it had just become a British territory)
Princess Lydia told her children and grandchildren her sad story of being the victim of her father the Emperor’s new wife’s jealousy, the step-mother was 18 – a mere two years older than Lidia, they were in Gondar (then the Royal capital of Ethiopia) when his jealous new wife sold the two sisters to Arab Slave Traders from Egypt and told her husband that the girls had been kidnapped by his enemies during the civil war (which started in 1803). The stepmother then saw to it that these two girls were expunged from the royal records and only her own children were recorded, which was a common practice in various imperial households in Ethiopia – as a means to De-legitimize primary heirs and to legitimize secondary ones.
After months at sea after changing hands several times the two Ethiopian Princesses ended up in Barbados on the slave market – where the elder Lydia was purchased by Dr. Morris Johnson who immediately made her his wife. Princess Lydia claimed that her and her sister were treated well in their captivity however (most likely because of their high value on the auction block as being Royal as opposed to ‘ordinary’ slaves).

Chinese descendant Marjorie Sue-Kirkpatrick (author of the book ‘From the Middle Kingdom to the Americas‘) confirmed the story and saw herself in a Daguerrotype of the Ethiopian Princess wearing white veil, hat, long-sleeved dress and gloves in Guyana where she rarely ventured off the estate of her husband till the end of her days.
  • 1879 Princess ‘Marian the Lucky‘ (later shortened to ‘Marian Lucky‘) was born to Lokono-Arawak Chief Amorotahe Haubariria (who’s mother was a Makushi) and his Akawaio wife Twengga, Marian was the first to be Christianized in the Clan and receive a western education, she was raised by Anglican Missionary Priest William Percy Austin – who later became the Bishop of Guyana – and in 1883 the Archbishop of the West Indies.
  • 1885 Fr. Karl DeWeever marries Mrs. Eileen Johnson (granddaughter of Dr. Morris Johnson and Princess Lydia Seyon of Ethiopia) in Guyana, Karl was born & raised in the Netherlands and was posted as the priest to the island of Saba in the Dutch Windward Islands before being sent to Guyana.
Karl also passed on the ownership of the Argosy Newspaper he created to his son Vivian – who was an entrepreneur but a reckless businessman, sold it.
  • Above our only existing photo of Great Great grandfather Vivian Arnold DeWeever as a young man in Guyana
  • 1886 Vivian Arnold De-Weever was born to Fr. Karl and Eileen Johnson-DeWeever as their only son, they had one other child Irene, the only daughter.

  • 1899 Vivian Arnold De-Weever meets Princess Marian of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks on a river trip bartering goods for the Sprawstons Company where he was a Manager, falls instantly in love and weds her.
  • 1913 on 29th January George Cecil Corbin was born in Barbados to father Julian Alban Corbin and mother Florence Warner, Florence was a direct descendant of Sir Thomas Warner through his first children who were half 'Kalinago/Carib (from his common-law Dominican Kalinago/Carib wife in the St. Christopher Colony, now called St. Kitts).
  • Sir Thomas Warners white children in Antigua resented their half Kalinago/Carib siblings and it was one of these racist white sons who travelled to Dominica to murder his half brother chief Carib Warner who had returned to his others people, poor unsuspecting Chief Warner welcomed his brother with a feast and while he and his Kalinago warriors were drunk and asleep, Phillip and his english men murdered them all, and their wives and children also...one of these half Kalinago/Carib children of Chief Carib Warner who survived the massacre was rescued, adopted & taken to Barbados by a ship sent by the english governor of Barbados after receiving news of the massacre of their ally by their English Antigua rivals....and the boy was  groomed to one day return to rule Dominica as the pro-Barbados native Governor like his father was, but this plan was never realised and he remained in Barbados all his life...becoming part of our diverse and exciting ancestral family tree - that links us forever to the Kalinago Tribal Nation as well. 

    • 1928 on 18th April Princess Marian De-Weever dies in Barbados at the age of 49, she is buried in Westbury cemetery – the only known burial site of an Arawak Royal in the Caribbean.

    • 1930 George Cecil Corbin (then 17) and Hanna Mariah De-Weever (then 16) married, the couple had 8 children, one of whom died at birth, and 7 who survived into adulthood – Sheila (deceased), Daphne, Merton (deceased), Cecil, Audrey (my mother), Judy & Cheryl.

    • 1914 on 24th of March Hanna Mariah De-Weever was born; she is the sixth child of Vivian and Marian.
above Great uncle/Grandad David Arnold DeWeever with two of his grandchildren - Evelyn (left) and Nigel (right)...Evelyn posted a comment at the bottom of this article confirming that she too had seen the glass plate portraits of our Ethiopian ancestor Princess sisters.
NB – Great uncle David Arnold DeWeever said that on several occasions during World War II ‘An Ethiopian Princess appeared to him and warned him about danger to his life that would occur the following day“, he always followed her warnings, and his life was spared as the vehicle or boat he was to have traveled on was either bombed or torpedoed with the loss of all lives aboard – just as she had predicted. As for me (Damon) since I shared this info with the present generation of the family – after years of digging ever deeper including consulting family elders (now deceased) and even elders from Ethiopia (whom I met by chance at a UN sponsored Climate Change conference in Alaska) who were aware of the story of the 2 Princesses and the wicked stepmother who sold them to Arab slave traders, I too have seen her once in a dream, she was with my other great granny Arawak Princess Marian, and they both smiled at me; perhaps happy that their memories have been kept alive by my efforts?
FAMILY MEMBERS WHO SHOW STRONGEST DNA EVIDENCE OF THE ETHIOPIAN ANCESTRY - in my opinion would be our St John first Cousins Charles, Richard, Stephen & 2nd cousin Ian...because DNA cannot be hidden forever, it only skips some generations only to reveals itself in others. 



First cousin Charles (the eldest even bears a striking resemblance to the last Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, not surprising as they are both of the Solomonic family lineage. 
                                                   First Cousin Richard St. John (above left)
                                                 First Cousin Stephen St John (above right)
                                                        2nd Cousin Ian St. John (above right)
FAMILY COMMENTS
  1. Damon,
    R U aware of any family members who knew of the Ethiopian connection? If not, wouldn’t it be more accurate to state your research as the “Unknown Ethiopian Connection” rather than the “Secret” one?
    This is the first time I am learning of this but I will also say that for a very long time I have felt a connection with Ethiopia and indeed Eritrea. There’s some kind of connection there but I didn’t know what or why I felt it. Maybe this explains it??
  2. Yes Rich, several older ones told me about it before they died, I grew up hearing about it since I was in Secondary School, but they grew up in an age when any non-European ancestry was ‘nothing to boast about’ (especially in Barbados) so it was very much a secret, DNA cannot be erased from one’s ‘genetic memory’ so yes – I would say your instinctual pull/affinity is due to that. Some of these same deceased elders were full of pride in our Amerindian heritage also – in their last years…but things they told me they did not bother to tell their own children (decades before) – who did not show my level of interests & pride in it – due to them not having ever shared all they knew with them in the first place! A vicious cycle of a bygone era, the main thing now is that I tell all of the younger generation all that I know before I too die and take a lot of valuable info with me to the grave.
                                               Great aunt Irene DeWeever at far left (standing)

Hi Damon – Cousin Evelyn here – I remember well when great aunt Irene came to stay with David Arnold Dewever (my grandad) in the UK – this was back in the late 1950s – from memory I can tell in no uncertain terms that she possessed with her glass photographic plates of the two princesses – and she relayed a story about them coming from Ethiopia……I will be emailing you in due course…

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