ANOTHER COUSIN –SIR HAROLD “BREE” ST. JOHN
Show favour to an evil man and he will not, the Bible says, learn righteousness but shall do more wicked. He did wrong. The people were on his side and they forgave him. He did wrong again and again and they resented him. He won, was top dog and was all smiles and his previous victims wanted to be part of the in-gang so they all shook hands and smiled too.
Everyone in the island knows, who killed the Labour campaign manager, Pele, in 1978 but police cannot go on with investigations and magistrates, judges and lawyers cannot go into court bold; they must go by what the party in power says.
Everyone knows Cubana plunged into island waters and mass murder and terrorism was covered up by the Labour Party and Bree, the major protagonist as Minister of Civil Aviation, for George Bush, the then head of the CIA.
Two years after Bree’s death, when Marjoire Giles in search of answers to why her son was picked up by police on November 08th (2006) and beaten so badly that when set free he vomited and had to be admitted to hospital, where doctors diagnosed kidney and liver damage and an infection that had spread to his brain. He died the next month and was buried a few days before he was due to return to court, the police public relations officer used Bree’s phrases and sentence structure in the press to a grieving mother.
“I don’t know on what basis this woman is alleging that the actions of police were the cause of her son’s death. If she is in possession of any information or proof which can substantiate her allegation then she should share it with the relevant authorities.”
Except from REFLECTIONS – Modern Politics the Caribbean & Asia Minor – by Angela Cole and Gary Cole - 1,200 pages available January 2009
TWO OF MILLER AUSTIN’S GRANDSONS
“If you make money your God, it will plague you like the devil
… Henry Fielding 1707-54
The average person knows that Bree came from a different class from Prime Minister Barrow, who was lower middle income. Bree was upper middle class, his family educated to suit and so he was looked after no matter what a vagabond he was or how many times he was on the wrong side of the law. He did not last long and the society liked him. He had been sick for a long time, his time came and he went.
Some said that he was dangerous but if he had been he would not have lost his seat twice. Errol Barrow had him out in a flash. Bree could have held on to the Prime Minster’s post until he died because he had many friends everywhere but he threw it away when he had no policy of his own.
His mistake was that he told the public that he would carry on the just-murdered Labour Prime Minister’s policies, which he, Bree was not capable to carry out; he did not have the skill or the nerve even if he had the dishonesty added to which he did not have good manners.
Bree left political office but ran for a seat again after being made a Senator for the second time. As a boy Bree used to pelt rocks when angry. People are built individually. There is dual ancestry; some people are everything like their mother and nothing like their fathers. Seldom are children alike and Bree and his two brothers could not be more unalike. The eldest, Noel, was ten years older and Bree could not fret with him but any recommendation to the mother from Eric, the middle brother, was greeted with his “do not mind that madman.”
Sometimes, unluckily, the fruit falls close to the tree like Grantley and his son, Tom, the first Labour Prime Minister. The father kept a grudge for years until he forgot what the spite was about and his son lived for spite to the point of sadism. Everyone, who went to school with Tom, every one that went to university with him and dealt with him knew that he borrowed money and did not pay back but Bible in hand they worked for him and defended him and as far as they were concerned they worked for the government. They were the rudders, which steered the boat from behind and pushed left to turn right.
Barrow produced children, who had no interest in politics.
From the mighty Miller Austin to bombastic St. Johns. Bree’s father, Albert, was a coward even though his father, uncle and two brothers were all doctors and he was three generations from slavery. His uncle, an ophthalmologist, the first black man to graduate from Boston University was the rudest person yet he was called a gentlemen.
Basically there are two sides; one style is old family; to know what fork to use and at the same time there is a crude, rough, not too soft side - a behaviour developed to maintain “ours” that keeps the secret and threatens to go along with lies.
Norman St. John asked for the hand of Conrad Reeves’ daughter and Reeves refused him probably because Reeves was in a position to know the truth. Reeves became the most slandered against man.
The Labour Party wanted a great Prime Minister but they had a putrid base, which could not be assessed highly so stories were made up to thwart the truth and to turn Bree into the good guy. The newspapers and the politicians all found it necessary to lie: he was the most honest, the most upstanding, the most brilliant and the most wonderful man in the Caribbean.
He was whitewashed like those that cannot act and are made into Hollywood stars: the homosexual that never did it with a woman but made out as the great lover. This has been done from even before Julius Caesar, who was whitewashed. He ran and had the agues before the battle, Shakespeare told the story through Cassius. The battle formed-up to take place and instead of the great hero Caesar out with the sword to encourage the troops he filthed with fright and prepared to run. There is truth in Shakespeare’s Caesar because he was not far away from the time and the stories had come through.
The main speaker at Bree’s funeral, an ex-BLP Attorney General etc., did not know Bree’s background so he made one up. Bree did not bring the first freehold Tenantries Act as his obituary claimed; it was his only surviving brother, Eric, from whom he was estranged for a long time. The Tenantry Act came about because of the most popular fish seller. In the 60s the landlord of the land on which she had lived wanted to sell.
The Prime Minister at the time was Barrow and he and Eric drafted the Freehold Tenantry’s Act, where if over five tenants were together on land the owner had to sell for no more than ten cents per square foot if the occupiers wanted to buy. When Labour came to power they played around with the legislation
The funeral of Albert, their father, took place within twenty-four hours of his death and the public were not allowed to view the body because the policy of the St. John family was to remember the dead in life.
“Do not open that box.” Bree’s uncle had said.
Seven day before his funeral public workers in their numbers chopped, painted and paved. It is reasonably sure that a man from such a family background, who did not want his mother to know that he was ill and lay face down to hide his features - blackened by his on-coming death - from his only surviving brother during their last conversation would disapprove of dozens of road workers concentrated on cleaning up and de-bushing an area of two square miles from the funeral home from where his body left to the church where he was buried and citizen of that area, his constituency, were asked not to put out their garbage and all the fish boxes moved.
His government looked after him and put on a show that could reap many side benefits; perks, political mileage and money as much as could be made instead of putting his dead body out of the way efficiently. They put a title on only one Austin and never before in the history of the island has so much fuss been made of a dead man and the newspapers printed the St. John story.
Sir Harold Bernard “Bree” St. John and Democratic Prime Minister Barrow were plantocracy but not gentry. Gentry is social status and it is not necessary to own a plantation, however small. Without a plantation one cannot be plantocracy and all, who owned a plantation are not gentry. Many lawyers, accountants and doctors came out of the plantocracy. Plantocracy did not necessary marry plantocracy but gentry usually married other gentry.
Intelligence goes by individuals and Bree did not have the foresight, which accompanies superior intelligence. Situations throw up leaders but people want and look for predictability in behaviour, especially in government; they do not want to be jerked around and the middle class behave in a certain way nine times out of ten.
Most of the St. Johns are very predictable and that makes people comfortable because they know before hand, by and large, what they will do. This is done in every country because lower classes do not like to break down their upper class, black or white or brown because of its consistency: the position in society families in that class take is known and power, it is felt, can be obtained without moving things around so crooks and murderers are preferred as long as they are middle class.
Lower classes are people, who did not have money for generations, need money and usually seize the first opportunity by any method that can be found two dollars by two dollars and generally they are not predictable and a class of person regards them as dangerous and think of them as the kind, who would do anything for money.
Justice can be obtained if it is fought for but the man in street is busy with the fight to make a living and does not struggle for righteousness for himself and his children because it will not bring money; only if outrageously illegal will something be done. Justice for the general public does not exist because they do not inconvenience themselves over it.
Those, who were poor are not so poor any more and many, who were born on the right side do not take the high road and so justice is in endangered by many, who do not want to be caught up with something of which they are unconcerned. Change will not be achieved when the majority refuse responsibility and so the more money a person has the more right.
These are the things that built up Bree. St. John retired from politics but said that as long as there was breath in his lungs he was in charge but really he was never in charge of any thing but corruption, wheeling and dealing and subverting the law.
Bree was like the girl with false teeth and a 32 AAA breast and played that she had a 44 DD cup – that is mentally and financially speaking. This is called social-style, which is posing and that which is devastating the island.
The St. John’s had bought Fairfield, a plantation of 170 acres in 1898 installed a steam mill and by 1912 it was sold. When Norman and Albert stormed off Miller Austin’s plantation it was ganging up and grandstanding for one of their estates in St. George was to be sold out and Miller called a cousin to tell his two sons-in-law that he would lend them the money as he had lent Payne but the cousin drove around and did not go back. They needed Miller’s offer to assist financially so that they could pay out their brother and sister. Two brothers were doing medicine – one specialised in eye, ears and nose and wanted money to go to Switzerland and the other, Sydney wanted to finish off his medicine in England.
The St. Johns try to show that they are better than Miller Austin although they both came out of slavery at emancipation and both great grandmother’s were slaves. Miller Austin’s grandfather left him land and St. John’s grandfather left him money. Their fathers were small shopkeepers in the north of the island, struggled with farms and fought for every penny. In the 1890s when some of the bounty was freed up by the associations the St. Johns, Austin and Browne’s sons all were sent to university. At that time the first black St. Johns went to university in America, which was less expensive and two weeks from home. From Scotland, where the Browns and Austins attended university it was three months.
The males in these families were given professions, where more money was made than the normal people otherwise than that they were encouraged to sit, pose and do a lot of talk whereas the white associates members went into something that made money and put their children and grandchildren into industry as part of family enterprise.
A love of grandstanding made Bree pick up something from someone one day and come back and speak of the same thing the next day; he was not always able and made up for this by belittling those above him. During a staged commission of enquiry by his Labour government in 1978 he played to the public, when he questioned tediously and with innuendoes a highly certified engineer about his ability to work on a boat.
“Sir, the fact that an engine is floating on a piece of wood does not mean it is not an engine.” The engineer replied.
Bree’s law chambers were called the way pretentious people in England pronounce it, Sint-jon. The correct way is St. John, to write Sint-jon is ‘backra’. In French documents it is spelt Saint-Jean and in Spanish it is spelt Juan - San Juan the capital of Puerto Rico – the Rich Port. The old maps show the whole island called San Juan and the town called Puerto Rico.
He formed his opinions by the circumstances from which he came. The years in politics nor did the large amount of alcohol, which he drank temper his temper a fact of which the opposition took advantage. His son’s temper has been out of control since a teenager. Many people say that he was a good lawyer; he did the full legal course: his degree, studied all the subjects and went into chambers with a top group of lawyers in London before he came home. “I am not coming home yet because they going call me a little boy.” He said.
The good point in his personal life was that he thought that a man was a man but he abused and cursed even his clients and looked for briefs from which to make much money and as a result became a double-crosser of the people he was supposed to represent in his political career.
The new Central Bank was set up to regulate money and take it out of the hands of the solicitors, who were the traditionally lenders for three hundred years. Money was borrowed at one percent under the lending rate of the banks and deposits earned four percent. The solicitors made the money in the difference between the percentage in what the bank borrowed and lent. People also deposited their money with trusted members of the business community and received more than the bank gave. One of the large players in this field was the Goddards one of the white associates.
The Central Bank was not to get at the businesses but at the banks that if the poor, especially Blacks, had ideas and feasibility studies and went to them with the project for a loan they were left to hang and then the loan refused. When Bree heard he was mad. “They took money out of the hand of the solicitors.”
“Do not touch her; she is going to use you.” Eric did not like the idea of Bree’s marriage. “You are a blasted fool to take her on!”
Bree’s wife’s mother and his mother went to school, Queen’s College, but although in the wife-to-be’s family there were no doctors or lawyers but five daughters and one son her family did not think that Lucy, Bree’s now widowed mother, could afford to send her son to university. Bree left for university in England and when a few months later Eric went to the airport to go to Dominica to catch a boat to Ireland where he would cross over to London, Bree’s wife-to-be was there and kissed a young man, who also headed for university, via the same route, to study dentistry.
When she attended elementary school she was known by one Christian name and when she transferred to secondary school her name changed. Bree had seen her at secondary school and fell in love with her even then but she was engaged to an Englishman. She broke the engagement after she got there. She did a course in radiology.
The couple never dated in England and did not do so until he qualified and returned home and she worked at the public hospital. Her father had a pet name for Bree; he used to call him Bree-Bree meaning “bright young lawyer” and spoke of him as brilliant. He wanted him in his family by any daughter necessary and used to ask him in which one of his girls he was interested but Bree never answered. Bree dated others and still visited his wife-to-be’s family. He came to his brother’s house one afternoon and said that the father had just tricked him: That afternoon Bree had gone in a huff and a buff to look for the sisters. He asked after one of the daughters.
“Ha! Ha! I got you! She is the one.” The father said and there after Bree was in hot pursuit of marriage.
“Will never happen.” Bree’s new stepfather said when Bree’s wife named their first son after him. He thought that she hoped that he would make him his heir. Bree’s wife confuses etiquette with manners and her affected behaviour is blamed in many circles for a large part of his political failure.
Bree was interested in politics from a young age and when he returned from England Barrow wanted him to be his lieutement and planned that the two of them would alternate at running the island. Barrow would do so for the first five years and the Bree would do run for the next five years and so on.
The first platform on which Bree spoke was in 1958/59 for the Democrats. The candidate was white Douglas Lynch and he did not win. The Democratic Labour Party returned a few seats and Bree and Barrow and all were friends. After an election 1961 in which Barrow won the government Bree confirmed that he was a member of the Labour Party. This came as a surprise for he and Eric, used to walk around and antagonize Labour for the Democrats. Bree’s reason, given later, was that he disliked and did not trust certain members in the hierarchy. He lied for both brothers used to run about with these members and there was no ill will.
Eric did not leave his association with the Democrats, who wanted him to run against Bree, now Labour, in the same constituency; they felt that it was the best place for him to run because he had lived there.
“You have so many constituency, why do you want me to run against my brother. I would not do that to my mother.” He refused and ran for the local government under them. Since Bree’s death the newspapers have also claimed this for him. During the next five years Bree served in the Senate. He worked in the law chambers of Barrow then went over to another chambers where he capitalized on his politics.
The St. Johns are more whites than is thought and there is no continuation in their story because their concern is only with one slave son of a slave woman. They completely ignore the mother, his other siblings and the off spring and follow this boy for whom a white man called St. John left an inheritance.
Charles Henry was born in 1827 the slave of slave owner St. John, who was not necessarily a planter. A slave owner is only a social style. A shopkeeper could own a slave; many people in town owned slaves - the maid cleaning the house was a slave.
Charles inherited 150 pounds from St. John when he died two years after emancipation and that same sum at 21 years of age. St. John was obviously providing for his son, who became a shopkeeper and bought two smallholdings in the north of the island with the acreage of 40 to 60 acres.
Charles Henry St. John had a complete family of three or four children with a woman. These are the grandchildren of the white St. Johns and the brothers of the two surgeons. It is impossible to trace the full St. John family ancestry back to the 19th century because their genealogical records are missing - both the birth, baptismal and marriage records.
At thirty years of age Charles Henry married Mary Elizabeth Brathwaite from the district and started family number two out of which came six children. With ten children and two families to support and struggling to run small plantations he sent two sons to became doctors. One came back and practised and one opened practice in Grenada. Charles Henry died at age sixty-eight.
Charles Wilkinson, Bree’s grandfather, studied at Ohio University and Edward Thomas studied at Boston University where he was the first black man to study medicine there. He graduated in 1888. Slaves were not released in the United States until 1864, thirty years after in the West Indies. No black people went to the States before that because they were afraid to be grabbed as slaves. The odd few that went headed for the nearest Barbadian community and found a white Barbadian, who could vouch for them as free.
Of Charles Henry’s children Malvina Elizabeth was the first girl and she died in 1925. Henrietta Augusta lived up to the 1950s. John Henry Nathaniel was half foolish and Fitz Albert Augustus was a planter and known as a wicked vagabond. He married a Stroude who was white from the firm of Piggott and Stroude – druggist. He did not want to marry her and he denounced some of his children because he considered them too dark-skinned. His grandmother was black but he figured that since he married a white woman he should not have dark-skinned children. He called all his children to his deathbed and told his wife in front of them that she knew “all of them are not mine.”
Another son, Kenneth Fitzgerald, was also a planter.
By the terms of the 26th October 1683 will of Dorothy Drax; she left a Sir Walter St. John as one of her beneficiaries along with his son Henry and two daughters, Ann and Mrs Joanne Shute nee St. John. Henry Drax also appointed Walter, a baronet, as one of his executors in England to see that “a free school or college be built and maintained forever in Bridgetown, Barbados.” Henry was a vestryman from 1683 until 1694. Usually, a name cannot be simply picked up. St. John is the name of a place in Barbados, England and also in France.
Any name that evolves to a place is usually a bastard’s because the name of the father cannot be taken for that would give the indiscretion away and instead of taking the mother’s name the name of the place was taken. This writer’s summation is that St. John was taken from where the first bastard was born. This was normal English practise and would have happened in Barbados in England and Jamaica. The first of the family takes a fabricated name and the future family would be known as St. John.
The reason that Drax left money for the St. John was because they were bastard Draxs. St. John’s was doing the naughties with one of the Draxs and according to oral history, every one in the island at that time knew. The will shows someone who provides for their offspring to see that they do not fall into poverty.
The next St. John recorded is in 1715, a merchant and French man, Captain Barnett, who traded out of the West Coast of France by the Bay of Biscay, had connections in Nante along with a brother and two children born to his wife Harriett a widow when she married him.
He would have shipped and traded for the Draxs and was related to the English statesman Bolingbrook and to 1st Viscount Henry St. John 1678-1751. The St. Johns would not want have wanted this to be known because hostilities between France and England went on all the time with war between the two in 1715 and goods could be shipped legally only from and to the British West Indies in British bottoms - American and Barbadian ships and schooners were regarded as British but France ran piracy in West Indies.
The name Barnett and John came down for three generations then it stopped. The Draxs were also not English and in 1720 went back to England but still own Drax Hall. Local rumour was that Henry Drax was a vampire and there are no records of slaves called Drax.
These white St. Johns are the ancestors to the present black St. Johns. Grenade Hall was a dwelling house on a plantation of 157 acres in the north of the island and was connected from early times with Welch Town an adjoining plantation. The home of Gibbes Walker Jordan, it was called after a signal station. Sir Graham Briggs added to the dwelling house and called it Farley Hill after the Farleyensia fern, which was first, found there. Jordan’s interest lasted until 1836.
Rev Gibbes Walker Jordan, then of Waterstock, near Wheatly, Oxford inherited Welch Town which comprised of 273 acres from his father. On 4th July 1836 he sold it for 14,000 pounds to Richard Inniss and William Lucien Warrne. On the same day Richard Inniss and William Lucien Warren bought Grenade Hall together with its mansion house, almost immediately Richard Inniss and his brother sold both plantations to Charles St. John, Joseph Briggs and William Murrell Howard for 42,000 pounds - Briggs bought out for 18,000 pounds St. John’s interest. St. John lived at Welch Town.
They opened a bank called the West Indies Bank in March 1840 with some other influential people and friends. The bank was doomed to failure. It lasted six or seven years and was liquidated; many Barbadians (planters) having lost their all in it. According to oral history the bank was a scam. Briggs was St. John’s brother-in-law and the secretary of the bank was their cousin.
In 1976, six weeks after Labour won the government Bree came to the forefront as Minister of Civil Aviation when the CIA bombed a Cuban aircraft in mid-air; it crashed in the island’s waters and all seventy-six persons on board perished. The two terrorists had confessed and George Bush, the father and head of the CIA was expose as a terrorist and to prevent the international scandal the Labour government headed by Bree, as minister responsible, covered-up mass murder; they ruled that it did not have jurisdiction in the matter and no crime had been committed. It was called the darkest day in the island’s history.
St. John uses the construction “….. if ….. has evidence … go to the nearest police… that is the evidence the police are looking for” whenever he seeks to intimidate and to threaten whatever the subject be it the Cubana bombing: “I say this, if Mr. Barrow has any evidence to show that a bomb was planted on that plane while she was in Barbados, then I invite him to go immediately to the nearest police station about the information he has.” Or a murder investigation in which he was implicated: …… “For as far as I know that is the evidence the Barbados Police are looking for. It will be collected with the other evidence we have and handed to the Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions.” or as late as this year in the budget debate. It is what he says when his back is against the wall.
By 1978 the legal forces acted as agents for Bree, and he compelled them. Bree can answer the question that an Inspector of police says is the one, which should be asked even up until today - what happened at the house of the sister-in-law of Bree’s wife? That is where the main protagonist went when disturbed at the scene of a shooting. The coroner said at the inquest that Bree and his Attorney General challenged him in the House of Assembly and called it a politically motivated cover-up.
Later a family living in the area, the mother, father and young girl child, were found shot dead. No one believes the official report of double murder and suicide by the husband. It is more a case of mistaken identity and the wrong family killed.
By 1985 a Labour Prime Minister was murdered and there be no autopsy and again St. John is there, twice! A double cousin - two sisters married to two St. John brothers - of Bree signed the death certificate and Bree the deputy waited in the wings to become Prime Minister.
End of Excerpt