Family return to their roots

  • The Adderley family reunion (Photograph supplied)

    The Adderley family reunion (Photograph supplied)

  • Relative ease: Philip Adderley, from the US, his half-sister Keren Adderley, from Canada, with their first cousins, Mandy Adderley and Kathy Pace, from Australia  (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

    Relative ease: Philip Adderley, from the US, his half-sister Keren Adderley, from Canada, with their first cousins, Mandy Adderley and Kathy Pace, from Australia (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

  • Proud parents: Philip and Constance Adderley with their children in the 1940s, from left, Phyllis, Herman, Maurice and Sydney

    Proud parents: Philip and Constance Adderley with their children in the 1940s, from left, Phyllis, Herman, Maurice and Sydney

Back in the 1920s, Philip “Dibbie” and Constance Adderley’s world was pretty small. The quiet couple had four children, Herman, Sydney, Phyllis and Maurice, and ran the Pembroke Meat Market on Serpentine Road.

Almost 100 years later, the couple are long gone, but their numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren are scattered across the globe.

Last week, more than 30 of their descendants met for a reunion in Bermuda. Codfish and potatoes, brunch at Fourways Inn, and drinks at Flanagan’s Irish Pub were all part of the week of festivities.

Keren Adderley, Sydney’s daughter, said many of the descendants had met on Facebook, but not in person.

“We’d been talking about doing a reunion in Bermuda for a long time,” said the Kitchener, Ontario resident. “Somehow it never happened.

“Then, last year, a cousin suggested we meet for the 2017 America’s Cup, but we knew that was too soon, so we set a date, May 2018.”

Her half-brother, Philip, also Sydney’s child, has been researching the family for 40 years.

The retired missile engineer from Shreveport, Louisiana, feels his interest in family history sprang from a void left by his parents’ divorce.

He and his sister, Jenness, were born in Bermuda, but their parents Sydney and Patricia Boorman Adderley divorced when they were young. They were raised by their mother in the United States from a young age. Sydney Adderley remained in Bermuda, remarrying twice more.

“Typically, people who get interested in family history have been separated from the family for some period of time,” he said. “Then, when you get reacquainted you want to know everything.”

He first visited Bermuda in 1968 as a teenager, then returned a few years later while in university to spend a summer working in construction.

His paternal uncle, Herman Adderley, deputy manager at Goslings, took him around the island introducing him to relatives.

“That helped me connect with the closest family,” Mr Adderley said.

His father died in 1980, but Mr Adderley visited regularly for years with his wife, Debi, and two children, meeting relatives such as Ross Adderley.

“Ross would take us around in his little Morris Minor,” Mr Adderley recalled.

He said he felt a real bond with Herman and Ross Adderley.

While visiting Bermuda years ago, he made recordings of older family members talking about the family, and began digging through archives in Bermuda and overseas.

He thinks the family is of Irish origin.

The Adderley’s oldest proven ancestor in Bermuda, Edward Adderley, came to work in the Dockyard as a prison guard in 1835.

“He had three children before he was taken very young,” Mr Adderley said. “I’m not sure by what.”

In his research, he found characters such as Richard George Adderley who apprenticed as a letterpress printer for The Royal Gazette and then worked in New York during the later years of the American Civil War.

“He left his wife Sally Outerbridge Johnson, a widow and mother of one son, in September 1866 at the age of 26,” Mr Adderley said.

He also found William Edward Adderley who played the piano for the first silent movies in Bermuda back in the early 1900s.

“He worked as a china buyer for H.A. & E. Smith,” Mr Adderley said. “He travelled the world.”

Sydney Adderley and his brother, Maurice, both worked for British American Insurance and took their families around the world. Sydney Adderley took his second wife and children to Nigeria to open an office there in the 1960s.

During his time there, he was a hostage in a plane hijacking in Africa in 1974, on a flight from Nigeria to Kenya.

“He was in a small two engine German-made aircraft,” Mr Adderley said. “It had been converted to commercial aircraft.”

A few minutes into the flight an Ethiopian couple, who had been passengers, came into the cockpit, held guns to the pilots’ heads and demanded to be taken to Libya.

However, part of the way through the flight, the crew were forced to land in Kampala, Uganda, to refuel.

At the time, dictator Idi Amin was running Uganda.

“They were allowed to land but not pull up to the terminal,” Mr Adderley said.

Idi Amin, himself eventually appeared at the airport and had a photo taken with the hijackers and the passengers, then treated everyone to dinner.

Then everyone was allowed to leave, including the hijackers.

Sydney’s youngest daughter, Keren Adderley was born in Nigeria in 1966.

“My older sisters Kim and Nancy were born in Bermuda, but I was born right in the middle of the Biafran war,” she said. “Mother flew us out in April 1967 when I was three months old. We took the last plane out of the Lagos airport, before they closed it for the war.”

After that, Mr Adderley’s father split from his second wife and Keren and her siblings were raised by their mother in Canada.

The two sets of Adderley siblings did not really have a chance to properly connect until they all visited their father in Bermuda one summer.

“I was a teenager and Philip was already grown with children,” Ms Adderley recalled. “But we kept in touch, and he came to my sister’s wedding. When I went to the US I went down to see him and Debi.”

Mr Adderley found the week- long reunion festivities “emotional and deeply satisfying”.

“It is really difficult to put into words how it feels to meet relations long separated by time and distance, some of whom I’d not yet met, and how it feels to connect or reconnect with descendants of those my wife and I interviewed, some 35 years ago, who are no longer with us,” he said. “I am in the process of digitising many of those interviews for their benefit.”

Mr Adderley would love to hear from others with information about the Adderleys, particularly descendants of Sophia Jane Adderley and her husband Charles Veal; and descendants, if any, of Emily Jane (King) Adderley’s second marriage to Joseph Jones in 1847 in Bermuda.

To contact him, call 318-286-7762 or e-mail

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Published May 30, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated May 30, 2018 at 7:54 am)

Family return to their roots

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