Frederick - Overseers In The Bristol Triangle
Frederick - Overseers In The Bristol Triangle

The founder of the Frederick Family in England was Christopher Frederick, who came to this country from Hainault some time in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, although the date of his coming is not precisely known. There is no record as to his parentage, but his origin has been the subject of a tradition which was certainly familiar in the lifetime of his grandchildren; and this tradition has been handed down in all the different branches of his descendants to the present time.

For example, when the lawsuit over the succession to the baronetcy was pending, Vice-Admiral Charles Frederick, one of the two claimants, wrote a letter to the Morning Post, dated 29th Sept., 1874, in which he referred not only to the family history extending over three centuries in England, but also to a "previous and longer descent from a higher source in Saxony." Admiral Charles Murray Aynsley was another descendant of Christopher Frederick to whom in the nineteenth century the same tradition was familiar.

This tradition was to the effect that Christopher was a grandson, by a morganatic marriage, of Frederick, Elector of Saxony, surnamed the Wise; he is recorded as having died unmarried 5 May, 1525. The suggestion of illegitimacy has never been made, although it must stand as an alternative possibility; but it is unlikely that Christopher would have been so well received as he was in England if there had been any such slur on his origin.

It is especially noteworthy that when his son John was granted armorial bearings, his crest was placed "on a cap of dignity azure, turned up ermine," in direct reference to the Electors' " cap of maintenance." It is significant also that this alien, coming to a strange country, apparently without influence or wealth or birth.

The above text is from The Family of Frederick by Edmund H. Fellowes, Windsor: Luff & Sons Ltd., 1932.

We can't say that our FREDERICKs are related to the above family but there are indicators that this may be so. Bob Bynoe, a FREDERICK cousin states "as a child, I recall being told by aunts and uncles that we were descendants of Sir John Frederick, Ld. Mayor of London."

From Valerie Hope's My Lord Mayor, Weidenfield and Nicholson, London, 1989:
"Sir John Frederick was knighted by Charles II on the restoration of the Monarchy whilst John was still an Alderman of the City of London. John was a Grocer1, he was a Londoner whose father, a Surgeon, had fled from the religious persecution in the Netherlands in the late 16th century. John began his city life as a Barber Surgeon, transferring to the Grocers in time for his mayoralty. He had extensive commercial contacts in the Mediterranean and the New World and financed several diplomatic missions. He was Member of Parliament for the City from 1663 to 1679. His home was in Frederick Place, Old Jewry which is still named after him. He is mentioned in Samuel Pepys Diaries, in volume 2, volume 6 and 7."

It is in the commercial contracts in ...the New World where our FREDERICKs begin to emerge. William FREDERICK marries Hester THOMAS, May 20, 1793, in the parish church of St. Mary Le Strand, Westminster, London. William and Hester move to Bristol where their son George Oneisphorus2 FREDERICK is born. The family then emigrates to Union Island in the Caribbean (a part of the Isle of St Vincent). According to information sent to Carolyn Randle by Jacques Daudin (author of a history book on Union Island) there were sixteen white men (ten French and six English) and four hundred and thirty slaves on Union Island in 1778. The Island was considered to be the property of Samuel Span, excepting for three hundred and twenty acres in the possession of Jean Augas. Fine cotton was being produced in some of the valleys. Based on Daudin's statement it looks like William FREDERICK was in the employ of Samuel SPAN and came to Union Island to manage the plantation.

The most likely candidate for William comes from the parish records of St. James, Westminster, London:
William FREDERICK, son of John and Ann, born Apr 21 1763, baptized May 22 1763.
There are no other children of John and Ann in the register. There are other FREDERICK in the records including children of Sir John FREDERICK and Barbara KINNERSLEY.

William is not the first FREDERICK to appear in the Caribbean. Nor was Samuel SPAN the first of his family. John FREDERICK grandson son of the aforementioned Christopher and god-son of the Lord Mayor was living with his wife, family and servants in Barbados. Francis and Elizabeth SPAN are in Barbados no later than 1656 when their son Francis is born and recorded in the parish registers. This suggests the FREDERICKs and SPANs had an association lasting at least a hundred years and is another circumstantial example of the connection of our William FREDERICK to the Cristopher FREDERICK.

The SPAN connection provides an interesting aside and helps to better define the occupation of William FREDERICK. It was apparently after 1763 that the English in the form of Samuel Span, David Smith and John Hamilton arrived in Union Island. Samuel Span, a merchant from Bristol arrived with 165 slaves and was assigned almost the whole island. The two others, Smith and Hamilton, had one and seven slaves respectively and seem to have been adventurers. It was Span who named the two settlements Ashton and Clifton.

Very soon after 1783 Span became the only colonist on Union. His family and descendants remained in control of the island for three quarters of a century; up to the time it was sold to Major Collins of St. Vincent in 1850. Major Collins rented the island to Charles Mulzac until June 9th 1910 when the British Government took it over and sold it to the inhabitants.

There are a few entries for Samuel Span in Bristol Privateers and Ships of War by Damer Powell (Arrowsmith, Bristol, 1930) and the volume also mentions Samuel Span as the owner of several ships including:
Ship Burke, 200 tons, master James Clark, reference dated 1781
Ship Bacchus, 300 tons, masters Charles Thomson and James Clark
Ship Union Island, 200 tons, owner with David Hamilton, master Joseph Rawle. The ship was reported taken by a French privateer in January 1780, and sent to Cape François.
All these references are taken from a list of ships commandeered for the American Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.

Bristol, Africa, and the 18th century slave trade to America, ed. David Richardson, Vol. 4, 1770-1807, has a reference to S & J Span and Company as owners of the ship Alexander, 300 tons, master John Preston, and a voyage of c.1801, trading from Cameroon/Angola with 599 slaves, arriving in Martinique 23rd January 1801. The volume is published by Bristol Record Society, Vol. 47.

The SPAN citations provide an excellent example of the so called triangle trade between Africa, Europe and the West Indies. The slave trade followed a route shaped like a triangle. A typical SPAN voyage might set out from Bristol carrying cloth and other finished goods for sale in West Africa. Once the goods had been sold in Africa, the ship would load up with slaves bought from local chieftains and take them to the West Indies. The final leg of the voyage would bring a cargo of cotton grown at Union Island under the management of William FREDERICK back to Bristol.

William FREDERICK married Hester THOMAS May 20, 1793 at Westminster, St. Mary le Strand. Their son George Onesiphorus FREDERICK married Margaret BUCHAN March 18, 1830 on the Isle of St. Vincent. George was baptised 12 September 1797 at St.Michael's, Bristol; his siblings were all born on the Union Island and are listed in the St George parish records. They include Worthington John FREDERICK 1799, Samuel David FREDERICK 1802, Mary Anne FREDERICK 1809, Francis Robert FREDERICK c1813 and James Duodecimus FREDERICK c1813. George becomes a planter on the Isle of St Vincent and after the slaves are emancipated he becomes the Chief Constable of Kingstown.

James William Baillie FREDERICK (b 1834 son of George and Margaret) and Amelia NEW of Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. Their children include Clara A FREDERICK b 1858, Cyril A D FREDERICK b 1864, De Courcy Isoard Frederick b 1873, Edith M FREDERICK b 1860, Ella I C FREDERICK b 1866, Erol Osmond FREDERICK b 1875, George O FREDERICK b 1870, Gertrude H E FREDERICK b 1862, James FREDERICK b 1859 d 1859 and Minetta Rachel FREDERICK b 1868. This family appears in the LDS Australian Vital Records Index CD.

I know of a James FREDERICK who emigrated to Victoria aboard the Ochtertyre in August of 1854. I am researching this further to see if it is the same James who married Ameilia.


  1. Grocer has a similar meaning to the modern word though qualified by the word "wholesale". It would appear he was a token member of the Guild for in Fellowes, Family of Frederick, it is stated: "In 1661, when Sir John Frederick had the immediate prospect of becoming Lord Mayor of London, he was transferred for some technical reasons to the Grocers' Company".
  2. The biblical meaning of Onesiphorus is bringing profit.


HomeHome BackBack