Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Singer

We search the records and compile a list of names, dates and somewhat unreliable ages; possibly an occupation, planter being a common one, which could mean anything from one yam plant inna yard to several hundred acres.

We look with envy to those celebrities on ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, and the colourful facts uncovered. We want the dry facts to leap off the page – we want to know who our ancestors were and how they lived.

Personally, I am yet to discover a prince, rogue, villain or saint. But when my parents visited from Jamaica in June, my dad casually asked my mum: ‘What was the name of your cousin the singer again?’ It turns out he was none other than Jamaica’s very own reggae singer Jacob Miller.

Jake Miller
Jacob Miller and Bob Marley (via Flickr Diego’NoMas !)

At this stage, there is little I can say about him that isn’t already known – except that he definitely wasn’t born in 1960, as some sources assert. My mother left Jamaica in 1960, and she remembers Jakey as ‘a sweet little boy playing in the yard’.

I am now corresponding with my aunt who grew up with him. She was delighted when I told her I wanted to write about Jakey. As soon as I find out anything interesting, I will share it.

The relevance of this to all you family researchers out there is: when questioning relatives, be persistent and don’t take ‘I don’t remember’ for an answer. Otherwise when you finally hear something interesting and you wonder why they didn’t tell you before, the invariable answer is ‘You never asked’.

by Ayshah Johnston

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