Donald Binnie Campbell & Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman


Drawn by James Hakewill | Engraved by Sutherland
from A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica, by James Hakewill

Alexander Campbell and Marie Louise Sabate’s youngest son Donald Binnie Campbell—my 2nd great-grandfather—married Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman (born 1826) and fathered my great-grandfather Alexander James Campbell (1848-1917) and his younger brother Donald Spence Campbell (1850–1888).

At the time of Donald Spence’s birth, the family lived on Duke Street in Kingston, Jamaica. Donald Spence Campbell became a planter and died on 8 Aug. 1888 at 38 years of age. He, apparently, never married. His middle name, Spence, was that of the husband of his sister-in-law, Ellen Spense, née Kellerman.

Death Certificate of Donald Spence Campbell

Donald Binnie Campbell was a manager of the Royal Mail Co. An oral tradition within the family has him living for a while in St. Thomas, Danish Virgin Islands (U.S. territory in 1917) while he was in charge of the Royal Mail Co. office on that island.

Donald’s middle name, Binnie, seems to belong to a Jamaican family at the time who were related or close friends. The register of The Roman Catholic Church Marriages 1839-1869 lists John Michael McMahon of the city of Dublin in Ireland marrying Amelia Binnie, a native of Kingston on 24 Apr 1845. Witnesses included Donald’s sister Jane Campbell and his mother Marie Louise Darling.

According to his will, Donald Binnie held a half interest in Turnbull Pen, an estate previously owned by his father. Donald Binnie and his sister Jane had jointly inherited the property following their mother’s death—their father had left Turnbull to their mother as tenant for life, after which it went to them.

Donald Binnie Campbell died 6 Jul 1855, just four years after his mother had died. He was 30 years old.

These narratives use specific terms to refer to agricultural properties with which some readers might not be familiar. So, to be clear: pens are cattle and hog farms, mountains are coffee plantations, and estates are sugar plantations. And while I’m at it, I’ll add that wharfingers were operators of wharves and warehouses. There were, of course, properties that produced more that one crop. So a sugar plantation might, for example, also grow coffee or raise cattle and still be called an estate without having either the words mountain or pen added to its name.

Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman’s father was Thomas Penny Kellerman (abt. 1789-1834), who was the proprietor of Bloxburgh Estate, a coffee mountain in the Port Royal Mountains. Her grandfather was Jacob Kellerman, who was known as “John.” He was of Prussian birth and had arrived in Jamaica in the 1750s, where he was naturalized on 1 Oct. 1762.

The author Charles John Samuel Thompson wrote in his book Alchemy and Alchemists (first published as The Lure and Romance of Alchemy 1932) that John (Jacob) Kellerman was: “a man of gigantic stature who, in order to avoid being pressed into a regiment of giants formed by Frederick the Great, fled to the West Indies [Jamaica] where he married.” 

Readers might well wonder why a book about Alchemy would mention a Jamaican planter. I’ll have more to say about this when I tell you about Elizabeth Matilda Kellerman’s family in a future essay. For now, it suffices to say that when John/Jacob Kellerman died in 1796 he had done very well for himself and owned several properties in Jamaica and England.