Royal Reels: Gambling


The registered cover has the long green’ THREE PENCE POSTAGE’ and the blue 2½d stamps of South Australia with a ms. ‘8285′, an oval AR as well as the name of the sender at the bottom left, better seen on the reverse. It had a REGISTERED ADELAIDE/ 12/11/05 postmark, and the recipient is addressed as E.A.V. Abraham Esq, Greystone, Demerara, British Guiana (Figure 1).

On the reverse the sender is identified as Llewelyn O. Giles and there is a red transit cancellation REGISTERED/ LONDON/ 13 JA 06/ U (Figure 2).

Edward Adolphus Victor Abraham was the oldest child of Benjamin Abraham who emigrated from London to the British Guiana ca. 1840. Edward was born in Georgetown, BG on 25 September 1852 and died on 4 June 1918. He was educated at Queen’s College 1868 which was established in Georgetown in 1844 as the Queen’s College Grammar School for Boys by the Most Reverend William Percy Austin D.D. as an Anglican school, but it was expanded to include non-Anglicans and became Queen’s College in 1876.

He entered the Registrar’s Office ad became an Assistant Sworn Clerk in 1882, a Notary Public in 1887 and was admitted as a Solicitor in 1897. He was a member of the Georgetown Town Council and acted several times as Mayor. In 1906 he was a member of the Mortality Commission, and a member of the Carnegie Library Committee. He was a member of the Board of Agriculture and Vice President of the West Coast Agricultural Society. He was an expert in identification of handwriting and editor of Legal Vocabulary; editor of the Digest of Criminal Law as well as editor of the Old Series of Law Reports and compiler of the New series of Law Reports and contributor to the local newspapers, particularly The Argosy during the first twelve years of its existence, on many subjects.

As Clerk of the Court at Georgetown, Demerara on January 25, 1890 he was written up as follows: “….. the Clerk of the Court, a handsome and intelligent-looking mulatto, who had passed his legal examination at the British Guiana bar, and is at present writing a book upon the law and practice in this colony. This interesting clerk speaks highly of the Dutch law in vogue here, as being vastly simpler and more rational than what is practised in London.” His only photograph (known to the numerous and widespread members of his family, and provided by a family member) is shown in Figure 3.

He was elected a Town Councillor of Georgetown for the first time in 1897 and was re-elected in 1899, 1901, 1902, 1904 and 1906. He was Mayor of Georgetown from 1903 until 1907. His legal office was at American Street, Georgetown and the 1898 Directory of South America, Central America, Mexico and West Indies lists his firm as ‘Abraham, E.A.V. Barristers and Solicitors’. Edward Abraham’s obituary in the British Guiana Daily Chronicle has to be the longest obituary I have ever read. It was described by Bernard Abraham as “quite voluminous and hyperbolic” with which I agree; unfortunately, it was inadvertently deleted before I printed it.

Edward had numerous interests outside of his legal career which included sports, medicinal plants, freshwater fish, Guianian coins, and stamps (?), the caste system and the marriage law in the colony. His only association with South Australia may have been as follows: The Adelaide Botanical Gardens had a connection with Guiana at one time, and a German botanist, Richard Schomburgk had made published observations on British Guiana flora and fauna. He became the Director of the Adelaide Botanical Gardens from 1865-91. Also by coincidence, Edward’s brother, Henry Valentine Abraham, was married to a Gendoline Giles, the surname of the sender of the cover from Adelaide, South Australia.

Two maps are shown, the site of British Guiana now known as Guyana, between Venezuela and Suriname, and the position of the capital, Georgetown in Guyana (Figures 4 & 5).

I am indebted to Tikwis Begbie (Australia), Bernard Abraham and Jim Smith for most of the information and the photo of Edward Abraham, which made this paper possible.

Categories: Legal