Thomas Henderson Girvan
From the Research of John Thom McKinley Girvan (1920-?)
And Gloria Girvan Akin (1922-2003)
Thomas Henderson Girvan was the second son of the Second Thomas Girvan (1838-1886) and Mary Ann Girvan (1841-1880). Thomas Henderson had 3 siblings, William (1872-1912), Robert who died in infancy, and Margaret (1875-1917).
On the death of his mother, Mary Ann, he was sent with his brother and sister to their aunt, Mrs. McMurtrie in Scotland. There was apparently no indication as far as his parents were concerned,that he would not be capable of having a productive life in assuming the responsibilities associated with his legacy from his father Thomas. This is obvious when one reads his father’s will (t0 be appended in a later post). “For”, his father said, “I trust by then (that) the boys will be able to fight for themselves.”
Sadly this was not to be. Young Thomas had lost his mother at 4 years of age and his father at 10 years of age. Undoubtedly these deaths affected all of the children. However, it was discovered that Thomas Henderson was retarded and would be unable to cope in handling business situations. His father had stated in his will; “Should I die before my youngest son comes of age, I wish Oxford Pen to be rented, or leased, which must expire on the majority of my youngest son”. It seems that eventually two of the properties were managed in this way. A problem arose however, with the Tanarchy house and property of forty acres which had been left to Mary Ann, Thomas Henderson’s mother, by her father the First John. This property passed on from his grandfather, was left to Thomas Henderson by his father. Seeing the house at Tanarchy in need of repairs and the land in need of proper management, one of the First John great granddaughters, Mrs. Martha D’Aguilar and her husband wrote to Thomas Henderson’s aunt in Scotland, Mrs. McMurtrie expressing these concerns. Mrs. McMurtrie replied stating: “Tom Girvan is incapable for business. His brother (William) has been away for three years but is on his way back here (Scotland). We had a letter from him this morning. He is in London and will be here tomorrow. When he comes there will be arrangements made as to Tom’s affairs. Poor lad, he is quite a child, in mind, and very bad in walking. You may depend on hearing it soon as to how it will be with regard to the place.” (This information from Clarissa Evans. She had the letter from her mother Martha D’Aguilar. Her daughter Madge Gossett saw the letter. Clarissa also told Gloria Girvan Akin of this letter).
It seems however, that despite these limitations, ThomasHenderson traveled to the Philippines. William, his brother, was quite the traveler and possibly took Thomas on one of these trips. He certainly liked the place and decided to remain there. He never returned to Jamaica. He was 27 years of age when he died on or about the 13th day of July, 1903, intestate at Massinluc, near Zamboanga, on Mindanao, one of the Phillipine Islands.
His inheritance from his two parents, the properties Oxford Pen and Ireland in the parish St. Thomas and possible Tanarchy in Clarendon were then given to his sister Margaret by his brother William who was in charge of Thomas Henderson’s affairs.
Thomas Henderson did not become the wealthy landowner that was (the destiny) envisaged for him. One would hope that he was cared for and found peace in the Philippines. Just 27 years of age and far from family and friends, his death must have been hard for William and Margaret. Margaret however, in addition to her own legacy from her parents, gained much financially from the sale of the Oxford Pen and Ireland properties and must certainly have been quite an heiress.
By Gloria Elise Girvan Akin