Sarah Godfrey (Byers) (1832 - 1887)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
Cause of death: Diabetes
Managed by: Carol Fitzgerald
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About Sarah Godfrey (Byers)

Birth: 1832 (alternate date: 1820) in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada (had ties to the Mi'kMaq Indians). The Micmac (Mi'kMaq) Indians were the first inhabitants of the island. In 1720 the first French Acadian settlement was established, some in the Three Rivers area. In 1758 the land was taken by England . The new regime ordered the deportation of the Acadian people, however some did manage to remain. The island was officially named Prince Edward Island in 1799 in honor of Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, who was then commander-in-chief of British North America . Sarah married William Godfrey in November of 1864. William and Sarah’s three oldest children, Thomas, Mary Ann and George were all baptized on the same day, the 14 June 1853 at St. Dunstan’s Basilica (Sarah's mother, Mary was a converted Catholic, her family was originally Anglican). William and Sarah had another five children, all of whom were born in Charlottetown. The only early newspaper reference for this family appears in the Examiner in September of 1855. This short article reported that Frederick Byers had been convicted for assault on Sarah Godfrey and had been “fined 2s6d and costs or 1 month imprisonment.” Aunt of George "Budge" Byers (1872-1937) the boxer, who moved to Boston, MA. THE BYERS FAMILY VIEW FAMILY TREE: By the middle of the second decade of the 19th century slavery had probably come to an end on Prince Edward Island. There were, however, many former slaves among the small black population in the colony. One family of this community was that of John Byers (1770-1821) born in Virginia, USA (now Kentucky, USA), known as "Black Jack", who was identified in 1796 as “a Negro of Colonel Robinson”; the master was undoubtedly Joseph Robinson, at that time an assistant judge of the Supreme Court. Byers and his wife, Amelia (1775-1847) born in Virginia, USA (now West Virginia, USA), who had ties to the Mi'kMaq Indians, had probably come to the Island with Robinson after the American revolution. John and Amelia Byers were two of four slaves brought to Prince Edward Island with Colonel Joseph Robinson. Robinson’s other two slaves were probably John’s brother’s Sancho and Peter, who were hanged on Gallow’s Hill in Charlottetown within 12 days of each other in 1815 for stealing bread and money. John and Amelia’s four children were baptized at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. In these baptismal records, it is documented that John was a “Negro of Colonel Robinson.” The Royal Gazette newspaper published a “Report of the Select Committee on the Petition of American Loyalists”on the 8 January 1833. In this report Joseph Robinson stated that he had come to PEI in November of 1784, along with twenty other Loyalist families, sailing from Shelburne, Nova Scotia. While in Shelburne, he had saw several proclamations posted throughout the town that offered lands to Loyalists upon arrival in PEI. Joseph made application for land and was put in possession of 500 acres on Lot 32, but never did get a deed for the land, although he had made several applications to Governors Patterson, Fanning and Desbarres. John and Amelia were therefore settled on PEI with the Robinson family in Lot 32 by 1784. John and Amelia’s children were all born on PEI, with their first child William "Black Bill", born in 1789. Amelia had herself and four of her children baptized all at the same time in 1795 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Charlottetown. In this baptismal record, it is documented that Amelia was a native of Virginia. On the 24 October 1828, Amelia Byers filed a land petition: “Of township 34, St. Peters Road, native of Virginia, a widow with two children and over 40 years of age wants pl 522 in Charlottetown...” It was ruled in court, within a few weeks of her application, and ordered that “A license of occupation do issue.” One of John and Amelia’s children, William, married Mary Shepard, the daughter of David and Kesiah Shepard. This was the first union of what would become the two most prolific black families on PEI. The 1861 and 1881 census documents five Byers families living in the Charlottetown area. The 1901 census documents only two Byers families living on PEI. Many of the Byers descendants eventually moved to the New England area with the exodus of other Islands in the late 19th century. One notable descendant of the Byers family is George “Budge” Byers who achieved notable success in the boxing ring in the late 1800s. Today, there are descendants of John and Amelia Byers still living on the Island, although there are very few individuals with the name “Byers.” Surnames appearing within the descendants of John and Amelia Byers: Braddock, Brown, Culgan, Gallant, Gauthier, Godfrey, Hartinger, Shepard, Pavie, Santos, Milliss, Dnombacs, McKeigan, McPhail, Rhyne, Wakefield, & Williams. Father: William Byers b. 1797 in Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Mother: Mary Millicent Shepard b. 1803 in Charlottetown, Queens, PEI, Canada. Nov. 1864 - Marriage to William Godfrey I in Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Death: July 21, 1887 (Age 55) at City Hospital in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA. Direct Descendant of John Byers - 1st - Generation: John Byers & Amelia: William Byers; Direct Descendant of William Byers - 2nd - Generation: William Byers & Mary Shepard (Stepmother): Sarah Byers; Direct Descendant of Sarah Byers - 3rd - Generation: William Godfrey, I & Sarah Byers: William Godfrey, II. On Wed, 16 November 1870: The Islander states that Dr. Jenkins, one of the Coroners for Queen’s County, held an inquest on the body of Wm. Byer’s (Black Bill’s) wife, on Monday the 7th inst. It appears that she and her step-daughter, Sarah Godfrey, had an altercation some months ago, when Sarah shied a brick at the step-mother’s head, and so well directed was the blow, that the latter never recovered from its effects. She sunk into a lethargic state from which death only relieved her on the 4th inst. The jury, having heard the evidence adduced, and the opinions of medical men, returned a verdict that “the deceased Mary Byers came to her death from a blow of some blunt instrument inflicted by Sarah Godfrey, under great provocation.” A warrant of commitment, on a charge of wilful murder, was thereupon issued by the Coroner: but up to the present time, the accused has succeeded in evading the officers of the law. Sarah (married Robert E. Paine, a barber from France in 1873 in Boston, MA) listed a "Mary Wolf" as her mother (She was never married to William Byers, I. She may have Micmac roots.). Sarah was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester, MA with her Granddaughter, Gertrude Tompkins and next to her daughter, Mary Cameron (Godfrey).

  • Note: Her uncle Edward Byers was born about March 26, 1807 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada and his death was in 1871 in Sydney, Australia. In 1843 he married Susannah Culgan born 3rd May 1819 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Both Edward and Susannah probably arrived on same boat as Edward was a waterman, whatever that means. The boat arrived at Sydney, NSW, Australia on 14th February 1842 on the ship "Sir Edward Paget". Susannah was 22 when she arrived and 24 when she married Edward at Scots Church in Sydney, NSW, Australia. In 1891 she died at age 72. Her religion was Episcopalian. "The wild stories about a long-lost black American seaman, it turns out, weren,t just crazy stories. Documents show that my great-great-great-grandfather Edward Byers was an African-American mariner who was born on Prince Edward Island (now part of Canada) around 1806. He was the son of John and Amelia Byers, who were slaves of a British-American Colonel and who had arrived on Prince Edward Island (then a British colony) in 1787 from South Carolina in the United States...Edward (Byers), after emmigrating to Australia at a time and circumstance unknown, married a white Irish immigrant, Susannah Culgan in 1843. They had a total of seven children, including in 1849 their first son, John Edward Byers, who, in 1875 married Emily Georgina Jackson. Emily, like John, was also a 'half-blood' African American, being born of an American-born man Edward Jackson, who was (assumedly) also African-American, and who, like Edward, also married a white British-born woman Maria Manley. Emily and John Byers had a total of five children, including in 1880 their only son Leonard Oswald Byers, my grandfather's father, the drunken 'coloured" philanderer, who didn't marry my great-grandmother Beatrice Collison but who had five children with her, the last of whom was my grandfather Dudley, born in 1909." excerpt from "Pot Calling Kettle Black" by David Lewin. She is buried with her Granddaughter, Gertrude Tompkins @ Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester, MA.
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Sarah Byers Godfrey's Timeline

1832
1832
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Born: 1832
Location: Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

1846
November 12, 1846
Age 14
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1847
August 14, 1847
Age 15
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1849
September 6, 1849
Age 17
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1853
March 20, 1853
Age 21
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1857
1857
Age 25
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1859
November 27, 1859
Age 27
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1863
June 10, 1863
Age 31
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1865
January, 1865
Age 33
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada
1870
January 17, 1870
Age 38
Charlottetown, Queens, Prince Edward Island, Canada