THE SECRET ETHIOPIAN CONNECTION IN OUR FAMILY TREE by Damon Corrie
I have decided to share this information with the wider world, for if I die – it will be lost forever should I bow to the desire of several family members who wish to continue to keep it all a secret within our bloodline for various reasons.
“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‘ -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.
- 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.
- 1906 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 Carib (from his common-law Dominican Carib wife in the St. Christopher Colony, now called St. Kitts).
These half Carib children were well received in Barbados where some emigrated and settled in the mid 1600’s (one son who opted to migrate to his mother’s island of Dominica was made the Governor of Dominica by the English authorities in Barbados) but resented by the pure English children of Sir Thomas Warner and his second (English) wife in St. Kitts, and it was the eldest son of these second set of progeny (who resented the domination by the English in Barbados) that murdered his half brother the Governor of Dominica!”
- 1914 on 24th of March Hanna Mariah De-Weever was born; she is the sixth child of Vivian and Marian.
- 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.
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?
5th February 2012