From the Research of John Thom McKinley Girvan (1920-?)
And Gloria Girvan Akin (1922-2003)
So many, many times we heard of Jane Thom, our paternal grandmother, so with a sense of excitement we traced the footsteps of her life. We do not have all the details, no birth nor death certificate, but we do have her marriage certificate to John Thomas Girvan and the birth dates of her children. Additionally there is a list of dates and names left by researcher John Thom McKinley Girvan as well as a number of stories handed down about her. It was then possible to deduce the following on her life.
Jane’s father was from Scotland, a man whose surname was Thom, who came to Jamaica and married a mixed blood Jamaican. Jane’s father and his family lived in or near the town of Girvan in Scotland. It is possible that the Girvans and the Thoms knew each other in Scotland, but they most certainly did in Jamaica. This would then explain the desire and the encouragement of the First John Girvan to have his son, John Thomas marry Jane Thom.
Jane’s paternal grandparents seem to be James Thom and his wife, Mary Dunlop. Mary was born in 1766, married at age 21 in 1787, had nine children, eight of whom were still living when she died in 1839 at 73 years of age. From the memorial on her headstone, she was truly loved, appreciated and missed. One of her sons was Jane’s father. She had many cousins in Scotland, among them Archibald, John, Jane, Mary, Samuel and Alfred.
The research to date on her mother, Estriana Strachan has not been successful.
As near as can be estimated, Jane was born in or around 1831. She was married on September 12, 1857.
Jane and John’s marriage seemed to have been a good one. She was already the mother of three children when they were married. According to John Thom McKinley’s research, Jane and John Thomas had 6 children: Elizabeth Ann, Emily Ann, Mary Ann, Martha Ann, David Thom and Ann (usually called Annie). There would have been a seventh but both the baby and Jane Thom died in child birth. Jane and John Thomas considered it of great importance to hand down the name ‘Thom’, hence the name of her only son David Thom Girvan. When David Thom Girvan and Josephine were married they gave 2 of their sons the name Thom for their second name, David Thom McWhinney and John Thom McKinley.
Not to be outdone, Jane gave the name ‘Ann’, her second name, to all of her daughters. She was remembered by her children as having long plaits and being very loving and firm.
The education of Jane and John Thomas’ children meant a lot, not only to their parents, but to their grandfather, the First John Girvan. He was determined that they all be schooled in Scotland, so the eldest girl Elizabeth was sent away to John’s niece in Scotland. Unfortunately however, Elizabeth was not happy there and when she returned she influenced the others not to go. The others were therefore educated in Jamaica.
There is no doubt that John Thomas and Jane established the foundation values and principles in their family: love, family togetherness, unity, integrity. honour, courage, work ethics, commitment, not only to each other but to their word, respect to all, no matter one’s station in life. These values were learned by their children and exhibited and lived out in their lives, then handed down to their children and to their children’s children to this day.
Jane and John Thomas had only about 15 years of marriage. Her death appears to have taken place in 1872, when David Thom and Ann were 4 and 3 years old respectively. The children were born in the following years: Elizabeth in 1859, Emily in 1860, Mary in 1861, Martha in 1862, David in 1868 and Ann in 1869.
It was always a source of conversation in the family how wonderfully Aunt Mary (Meme) rose to the occasion and helped her father care for and love her younger siblings after Jane died. This devotion and care was her hallmark through the two following generations. Jane would have been proud of her.
Jane Thom was buried at North Hall, Clarendon, Jamaica.
By Gloria Girvan Akin
Children of Jane Ann Thom
And John Thomas Girvan