Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Allen line: Richard Lane, immigrant to paradise?

I've written a little about Richard Lane before, when I wrote about his son, Samuel. But Richard is touching my heart today, because of the manner and location of his death.  It makes me wonder more about the circumstances.  What really happened, and what were the circumstances?  Will we ever know?

To start at the beginning, Richard was born or christened August 7, 1596 in St Peter, Hereford, Hereford, England.  His parents were Roger Lane and an as yet unidentified "Beatrix".  He was one of at least eight children.  Roger is identified as being an "iremonger".  I can't identify that unless it is the same as "ironmonger', which would mean he was involved in the manufacture or sale of metal objects commonly found in today's hardware stores, such as pulls, knobs and hinges.  At any rate, he made a living for his family until his early death, when Richard was just 10 years old.

Either Roger's family or his mother's family must have stepped in to help raise the eight children, and Richard went to London at the age of 16 where he was apprenticed for seven years to Nathaniel Thornhill, a merchant tailor.  At the age of 24, he was admitted a freeman to the Merchant tail company, on February 26, 1620.  It took a certain amount of "pull" to be admitted to an apprenticeship and certainly to become a freeman, and Richard took advantage of his opportunities.  He married Alice Carter, daughter of Humfrey Carter, on October 27, 1623 in London, and life must have seemed good.  Richard had a wife and a successful business.  What could go wrong?

Richard Lane also appears to have been a man caught up in the politics and religious dissensions of the early to mid century in England.  His religious views may have been not quite orthodox, but perhaps not quite Puritan, either.  He was called before the authorities in 1631 and Richard, although not persecuted, must have decided that this was a good time to "get out of Dodge".  He got himself appointed as a representative of the Company of Providence Island, a quasi-governmental organization, to go to the West Indies.

He, along with his wife and children, finally arrived at Providence Island in 1635.  He spent most of the rest of his life there, introducing a plant called madder, which is used to make red dye.  He may have been fairly wealthy, as he was allotted eight servants, later changed to six, to help in his activities.  It's not clear whether these were personal servants for his household, or whether they were more like field hands or overseers for the planting operations.

At one point, he and two clergymen were held prisoner and returned to London to be examined for their religious views.  By this time, Richard was more like a Puritan, and these beliefs were not acceptable in England.  Fortunately, by the time they arrived in England Bishop Laud, who was the source of the "examinations",  had died and after a brief interview, the men were freed.  There was a bit of political excitement when he was nominated to be Governor of Providence Island, but that was unsuccessful.

Sometime before August 7, 1657, Richard and his son Oziell were drowned.  Most sources say this happened at Eleuthera Island, in the Bahamas, but there is one source that indicates the death actually took place on the African coast.  That would lead one to wonder whether he was somehow involved in the slave trade, although I've seen no other mention of this.

Providence and Eleuthra are both islands in the Bahamas, which with hurricanes Irma and Jose both threatening the area, is what brought my attention to Richard Lane.  Was there bad weather when Richard and his son were drowned?  Or were they somehow involved in an encounter with a Spanish ship that was in the area?  The Spanish would not have taken lightly to these British posts in "their
 territories.  It does appear that the days of the "pirates" were later than this time period, so we can probably eliminate that as a potential cause of the drownings.

Alice was left to raise four children.  She did receive her husband's back pay and a pension, after petitioning the company, and she is buried in England.  I don't yet know when she returned there.

This story interests me because as far as I know now, he is one of only two ancestors we have who lived in the islands of the Caribbean and Atlantic oceans.  If I were ever to tour the areas where our ancestors lived, this would be a good place to put on the bucket list!

The line of descent is:

Richard Lane-Alice Carter
Samuel Lane-Margaret Mauldin
Dutton Lane-Pretitia Tydings
Samuel Lane-Mary Jane Corbin
Lambert Lane-Nancy Ann Anderson
Nancy Ann Lane-James McCoy
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy McCoy-George R. Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants