AfriGeneas Caribbean Research Forum
[JAMAICA] Article on Sills from the
Jamaica Gleaner Online
Jamaican slave links unearthed in the UK
Monica Cousins, Contributor
John Sill's will photoraphed at the Jamaican Archives.
If your surname is Sill, chances are your ancestors came from a little known village called Dent in Sedbergh, northwest England. This was the West Riding of Yorkshire and was changed to Cumbria in 1974. Abolitionist William Wilberforce is said to have lived at Rayrigg, Lake District in Cumbria.
Dating to the 13th century, Dent has successfully kept a dark and evil secret until today. Inside the cellars of two houses owned by the Sill family of Dent are 'slave pens' in which African slaves from Jamaican plantations were held before being returned to the West Indies.
There are two infamous houses - High Rigg End and Whernside Manor - in Dent, 5 miles away, and at least one - Thorn's Hall - in Sedbergh where slaves were brought back and forth from Jamaica. Thorn's Hall is now an holiday centre. Still in its cellars are the 'slave pens' in which many Jamaican slaves were chained.
Local stories tell of hundreds of black people being distributed to farmers in the area. The women in Dent knitted wool skullcaps to send back to Jamaica (maybe the evolution of the rasta tams?). The stone walls so common to the area are said to be built by Jamaican slaves, owned by the Sill family.
Edmund Sill and his wife Elizabeth - formerly Clough - had 4 children, Edmund Jr.