Closing the Genealogy File



Photo on 2015-10-02 at 1.16 PM

Batik: Woman and Man Harvesting


Batik: See Post Scriptum

Long before genealogy became a fashionable pursuit now become virtually universally accessible via digital technology, there was a palpable pride in family and a curiosity about the origins of our ancestors. The Girvan patriarchy was the point of departure that John Thom McKinley Girvan chose to pursue his enthusiasm and his research. His research was the fuel that fed the project to record and disseminate his findings.  Gloria Girvan Akin composed short biographies of our nineteenth century Girvan ancestors based on John’s research late in the decades of the 1980s and 1990s before her death.

Two years ago, this blog site started to record and disseminate digitally, the results of the efforts of John Girvan and his sister Gloria Girvan Akin.

The Genealogy File (see below) now comprises 31 posts on matters pertaining to the bloggers paternal and maternal families. The blogger has occupied a privileged space for the last 2 years of his 6 year blogging life interacting with extended family members with whom he shared  a past as well as some whom he still has not yet met.

It has been a pleasure to leave the concerns of the here and now, and periodically be immersed in matters related to other times, other people and other places. Email exchanges and comments have been a welcome bonus for the hard working blogger (as if!).

Parting Comments: The Promise and the perils


Many untold stories about our ancestors will emerge later. The many threads of stories, oral narratives which held the family fabric together will be lost and over time, new narratives from other places will be superimposed.

The illusion of our uniqueness has been exposed. We are widely dispersed in Scotland, Ireland Central America, the Caribbean, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the U.S.

One very interesting late development came from a few pages from the Church of Latter Day Saints which has references to 129 separate entries of Girvan names for the Parish of Clarendon for the mid nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century period. Some of those names have familiar resonance and refer to our people as catalogued by John Thom McKinley Girvan. Many other names seem quite unfamiliar. The fact that the unfamiliar Girvans were living in the same small area of Jamaica at the same time poses some interesting questions. Are these other Girvans part of our clan, parts which were considered ‘rogue’ or otherwise deliberately unacknowledged by our people? It seems unlikely that another totally unrelated Girvan family would be present in the same small, general geographical area of Jamaica in the mid to late nineteenth century and twentieth century. It does seem more than likely that those Girvans were part of our Girvans. Why then were they ostracized? But then to pursue the matter further would be to open Pandora’s Box. Come to think of it, this only fuels the imagination for another researcher, less implicated in the narratives to explore, indeed exploit the dark but rich recesses of family history, to ferret out those stories which we suppress deliberately when we opt to gloss over some details which may compromise our status.The genealogical pursuit usually starts out with the enthusiasm of the promise of information and frequently ends with the realization of the perils of too much information. Our story of course as in all families, runs the gamut of struggles and successes and depicts the range of qualities and flaws of the human condition. And what a story we have collectively!

With much love and great understanding

The Genial, Genealogical Blogger


Vector - Lovely Heart 2 by DragonArt

A Collective Heart Beats in Us All: ‘The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn is Just to Love and Be Loved in Return’ (From Nature Boy)

Circa 1947

The Blogger circa 1946


Post Scriptum: The Batik of the woman and man harvesting above, although a somewhat clumsy, gratuitous and potentially patronizing attempt to state the obvious, is a necessary symbolic acknowledgement of the richness of our genetic heritage. Genealogical research has confirmed with some precision the particular European parts of our heritage, but the African parts remain locked into the brutally cruel anonymity of the slave trade. Unfortunately empty symbolic gestures must suffice.

One thought on “Closing the Genealogy File

  1. Garry:

    Thank you for your contribution of maintaining the Girvan story alive – your work has been an essential platform that facilitated the transmission, and added to the efforts, of the pioneering work of Uncle John and Aunt Gloria​. The younger generation of the various branches of the Girvan clan will be forever grateful, for years to come, for such an informative registry of historical information (Girvanopedia, your blog, etc) compiled and interpreted with much love and dedication. Girvan is forever. Much love,


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