I was born in Fiji, with family ties to India on my father's side.
This is the story of Mustopher David Richmond,
Accountant, explorer, miner, Genius,
as recounted to me by my brothers Isaac
and Vincent Richmond.
The Fiji Indian connection
After colonizing Fiji in 1874
the British kick-started the sugar cane industry
by importing labourers from India.
Dad's parents Braham Bahadur Singh and Maksudan met on one of the ships, fell in love, and decided to get married.
It did not matter that he was a Hindu and she was Muslim, and it did not matter that such inter-religious marriages were considered taboo (and are still taboo today!).
They simply decided they loved each other, Ignored all the protocols and taboos, and just got married!
This actually set the standard for my family
from that time onwards.
Our family is totally multiracial, multi-religious, multi-coloured, with no class or sexual discriminations!
But back to Dad!
He excelled at the Marist Brothers school in Suva
but that was the limit of education available in Fiji
in those early days of the 1900's.
Fiji Indian breaks the colour 'glass ceiling'
Dad studied Accountancy by correspondence
to get his tertiary qualifications, and started work
as a clerk with Morris Hedstroms.
He soon became a Senior Clerk among the
non-European staff. At that time, no locals (Indian or Fijian) were allowed to be in charge of European staff and European staff were paid much more than locals.
However, when the Accountant's position became available, he was called in by the General Manager who offered him the position, thereby making him the first local to be put in charge of Europeans in the company. This may be no big deal in today's world, but in the 1930s this was quite significant.
The package included a high salary, store discounts and a large 4-bedroom home. His elevated position enabled Dad to invest in real estate, which included two homes and a block of flats to start off with.
Dad was a very generous person and could never refuse someone in dire straits and usually in urgent need of financial help. In most cases, there was no prospect of ever being repaid.
As a result people started calling him “Rich Man”, especially people with limited or no education, which was quite common in those days. With the strong encouragement of his wife “Dombie” who was brought up in Sydney by Europeans and spoke perfect English, Dad changed his surname to Richmond”.
Gold is in the eyes of the Fiji Indian
As his accounting job became less of a challenge Dad began reading up on prospecting for gold, and gold mining.
He joined with 2 other prospectors, and they struck gold in the late 30s. It was 16 km into the bushy forested interior, with no road, and across a creek and mountain.
This is just one part of my family’s story. There is so much more I have found out and so much more I want to find.
Definitely the Indian connection is still missing, and we need help from other experts, and copies of official records. And we need family members to remain interested in this search, and to encourage other known more distant relatives to take DNA tests which might at least give more clues to our Asian origins.
Please do not give up the search.
The largest family tree for my family is located on the MyHeritage web site: Richmond Family Site.
Also, the DNA results are in the FamilyTreeDNA site (MyFTDNA). These show the Autosomal DNA, Y DNA (paternal line), and mTDNA (maternal line) results and tools. T
I’d love to see some family members get involved in this fascinating study. When you look at our family roots we are truly an international family. After all, my ethnicity estimate from the DNA tests shows: South Asian 56.8%, Polynesian 20.8%, Scandinavian 16.8%, North African 1.3%, Inuit 1.2%, Papuan 1.1%, Melanesian 1.0%, and Nigerian 1.0%. What’s yours like? And do you have any Inuit??? Have fun!!!
But history and family trees can be very interesting. If you check your family tree.. who knows....? You might find some connection with ... ...Kings and Queens, ...Prime Ministers, ...Civic leaders, ...Convicts, ...Jokers, ...Adventurers ...etc. It's really worth a look.