The Shirley Association has been a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies since 1988
  Michael Alfred Barnett Shirley 
of Jamaica and Panama

Leicester Colville Shirley (continued) Custos of Trelawny Jamaica; Owner of Hyde Hall and Ettington plantations in Jamaica; son of Henry Barnet Shirley

Email 2014: My research has taken me to Michael Alfred Barnett Shirley’s Panama Canal personnel records stored in St. Louis, Missouri, and that yielded a real gem about his mother, Elizabeth Harmon Martin from a handwritten form in his hand from 1929; a death certificate from 1968 that says his maternal surname was Maritn; and, best of all, from the National Archives of the Republic of Panama, a certification of registry listing his father as Lester Colville Shirley and his mother as Elizabeth Harmon Martin having entered Panama in 1906.

mother of the following children: Elizabeth Harmon Martin, supposedly a "Portugese" woman, but likely mulatto. Born about 1853 likely in Jamaica. She was identified as Elizabeth Harmon (no Martin) in her son's employment record dated 1929. She was listed as living at 39 Oxford St. Kingston Jamaica at that date, age 76.

Email Aug 2016: Uncle Mike listed Mrs Elizabeth Harmon on his personnel record of dependents in 1929. Turns out she married Richard Harmond and had three children with him, Isabella (b 1890 at Trelawny), John Israel (b 1893 at Trelawny), and Nehemiah (b d 1896, mother Olivia Eliz Martin).

[Ed: An Elizabeth Harmond, wife of Richard, died at Kingston on 18 Jun 1930, age 74 (b 1856)]


3(iv). Michael Alfred Barnett Shirley aka Michael Barnett Shirley Martin, born in Duncan, Trelawny Jamaica on 30 November 1877 (date confirmed in employment record); Lived in Panama; Panama Railroad personnel record dated 17 August 1929 says he entered the Canal Zone on 9 February 1906. His dependents included his mother Mrs Elizabeth Harmon age 76. His occupation was listed as an "artisan" in the Locks Division. He was 52 years old at the time. The 1930 US census in Gatun Canal Zone states Michael Shirley's father is an Englishman; He died in Panama on 23 December 1968, age 91.

"My grandfather, Michael, was born in Duncans, Trelawny, Jamaica, on 30 November 1877. His father was an Englishman, the Hon. Leicester Colville Shirley. He never spoke of his mother. He was raised in proximity of his father and with his half brother Gerald Moulton Shirley and half sister, Leila Moulton Shirley. He grew up in a rural setting, gaining knowledge of animal husbandry and sugar and rum production. His father saw to it that he was educated and wanted him to go to Canada to study architecture. Instead, he and Gerald went to Panama around the time of the building of the Panama Canal. Leila stayed in Jamaica. He worked as a mason on important historical buildings in Panama City (Presidential Palace, Cecilia Theater) and the Canal. He courted Leanna Bricilla Perry of Spanish Town, Jamaica (born 24 October 1877 and died 5 May 1956), before she became a nun and while he was recovering from malaria contracted in Panama during a previous stay. Her brother was Charles Perry. They went to Panama, where my grandfather married Leanna in Christ Church by the Sea, in Colon in 1911. Their union produced three children, Owen Barnett Shirley (1912-1959), my mother Ditta Barnett Shirley (1914-2000), and Lemuel Barnett Shirley (1916-1999). My grandfather maintained the tradition of his father by giving his children the Barnett middle name, a family name derived from his father's father, Henry Barnett Shirley. Michael worked for many years for the Panama Canal where he retired in 1955 as foreman for the Gatun Locks, and lived in our home in San Francisco, Panama, until his passing on 23 December 1968. My grandfather was affectionately known as Uncle Mike or Massa Mike to those who knew him from the Jamaican community in Panama. I remember him as a proud man with an indomitable spirit, accustomed to command attention, with erect posture and noble features on his strong six foot one inch frame. He had a very high instep but said his father's was even higher, so that your hand could pass under it. In his youth he was very handsome, with brown eyes surrounded by blue grey, brown hair and fair complexion. In his old age he commented often, "once a man, twice a child; when you're young, you're young and handsome, when you're old, you're old and ugly". His comment to me was that I "was born under a noisy planet" as he would say to me laughing and lighting his pipe. He died at home in his sleep, at the ripe old age of 91 and is buried in Jardín de Paz Cemetery in Panama City next to his beloved wife, Leanna. (photo above: Michael Alfred Barnet Shirley and wife Leanna about 1935) " - A Story of Michael Alfred Barnett Shirley as told to his grandson and Editor of this dossier, Miguel Hugo Osborne Shirley.

married 1) ______

married 2) Leanna Bricilla Perry of Spanish Town, Jamaica at Christ Church by the Sea, in Colon Panama in 1911; She was born 24 October 1877 and died 5 May 1956.

children by first wife:

4(i). Rennie Shirley b ? He died as a young man (according Ditta Barnett Shirley, his half-sister) Name of his mother unknown

children by second wife:

4(ii). Owen Barnett Shirley (1912-1959) He was age 17 when listed as a dependent of his father in a 1929 Panama Railroad Co. personnel record.

married Osra Mae Campbell

children: (Surname: Shirley)

5(i). Luis Antonio Shirley Campbell b 1940

5(ii). Yolanda Shirley Campbell de Stein b 2 Jan 1942

4(iii). Ditta Barnett Shirley (1914-2000), mother of the writer. She was age 15 when listed as a dependent of her father in a 1929 Panama Railroad Co. personnel record. She married Alfred E. A. Osborne, Sr

children: (Surname: Osborne)

5(i). Alfred Elderfield Osborne Shirley, Jr. b 7 Dec 1944

5(ii). Sheila Amelia Osborne Shirley b 10 May 1946 d 1 Apr 2012

5(iii). Miguel Hugo Osborne Shirley b 20 Jan 1948; lives San Francisco, Panama City, Republic of Panama

"I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents in Gatun as a child of 5 or 6 years of age, along with my parents, Alfred E. A. Osborne, Sr. and Ditta Barnett Shirley de Osborne and my brother Alfred, Jr., and sisters Sheila and Melva. It was an adventure to take the train and go the their house on a hill overlooking the Gatun locks, with the big mango tree that still stands (at least before the expansion of the canal project). Michael visited Jamaica once again in the early 1960's and I understand met up with his sister Leila. It was the first time that he had flown in an airplane, and that was quite an adventure for him."

5(iv) Melva Elida Osborne Shirley b 10 March 1952 d 18 May 2006

4(iv). Rev. Lemuel Barnett Shirley born 23 July 1916; He was age 13 when listed as a dependent of his father in a 1929 Panama Railroad Co. personnel record. He died 7 April 1999.

married Gwendoline Elvira Eastmond b 1918 d 1967

married 2) Olga Hinds de Shirley (m. 1969?)

children: (Surname: Shirley)

5(i). Mariela Cecilia Shirley Eastmond b 20 Jan 1955

My name is Miguel Hugo Osborne Shirley. I have retired in the Republic of Panama and have been working on my own during the past few months to create a dossier on my maternal grandfather, Michael Alfred Barnett Shirley, and his father, the Custos of Trelawny (Jamaica), Leicester Coleville Shirley. My grandfather was born in Duncan, Trelawny, 30 November 1877. I have not been able to find a birth certificate or a baptismal record, but the stories he told me as a child tie together with what I have read in Shirley genealogy, both in Jamaica and England. My grandfather’s brother was Gerald and his sister was Leila, but their mother was Portuguese (?) and my grandfather’s mother is unknown, unfortunately. Leila is reputed to have said that “all Shirley’s are related.” Probably true, as I have been finding out.

I noticed in some of your early correspondence that a certain Gerald Shirley had apparently gone from Panama to the USA on a banana boat. My family does not know what happened to Michael’s half brother, Gerald. But my mother Ditta mentioned knowing a daughter of his named “Cici” and those names appeared in your emails. More than a coincidence I suppose! Gerald would be my great uncle! I have no idea if he was younger or older than Michael.

My brother Alfred and my wife Hannah were recently in London for the Olympics and visited the Ettington Park Hotel, near Statford-on-Avon. That was a remarkable experience, just to see the beauty of the place, and reflect upon the fact that according to the pedigree of my great grandfather, Leicester Coleville Shirley, my family is apparently descended from the 1st Earl Ferrers, Sir Robert, and his first wife Elizabeth Washington, through his second son Henry. There is a missing link in that lineage, but we have insight into who he is from the letters in the British National Archives, on loan from the papers of the Earls Ferrers. Specifically, letters from Maria Josepha de Vleger, (Mrs. Henry Shirley) writing about her grandsons Henry and Bernard and her daughter, Maria Theresa Antonetta, also Mrs. Shirley, who I assume is the wife of the mysterious missing link. But it is clear that Henry (Maria Josepha’s grandson) gives rise to the estates in Jamaica and his brother Bernard is right there with him. My observation concurs with the synopsis of the book , The Shirley Families of Jamaica, that all the biologically related Shirley’s of Jamaica must come from this lineage.

My wife and I also visited Upper Wimpole Street right there in London. This is the street address given by Bernard (died there 1813) and Leicester (born there 1836). Not a very big street, but, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, worked on that street. - Miguel Hugo Osborne Shirley (Sept 2012


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