Thursday, March 10, 2011

Josiah's Cup

Robert (Punga) Adams and his sister Sue Sinclair, together with their partners and other members of the Adam’s family made a visit to the museum this week. They came to present us with Josiah’s or Siah’s Cup, after their father the late Charles Adams, gifted it to the museum in his Will. This is a very special gift indeed.

Robert Adams and Sue Sinclair hand over Josiah's Cup to Museum Curator Lisa Richards
 The cup was brought to Norfolk Island from Pitcairn by Josiah Adams, grandson of the original John Adams. It is not known for sure, but believed that it may have belonged to John Adams. It was passed down from Josiah to his son Guildford, who passed it his son Guildford Paterson “Pat” Adams and then to his son Charles. It is a mariner’s cup or mug and was most likely traded or purchased from a whaling ship passing by Pitcairn. The family believe it dates from the 1790’s.

The cup was used for Christenings in the Methodist Church when it was located in the Old Military Barracks from 1887 until the early 1920’s. Josiah, or Siah as he was known, was well known for walking along Quality Row with his cup asking everyone “was the kettle on”. Kik Quintal remembers stories that as he was leaving he would say that he would bring a little wood next time. In those days a trip up-county was needed to collect wood for the fire. The saying “I’ll bring a little wood next time” is still used today, particularly if you have to eat and rush off – “sorry f do semes Siah, eat en start, I’ll bring a little wood next time”. Robert has told us that in early tennis matches on the island, players would challenge each other and say “let’s play for Siah’s Cup”.

Josiah Chester Adams was born on Pitcairn Island in 1830, the son of George Adams and Polly Young. He married Dinah McCoy in 1858 and died in 1907. The endemic plant streblus pendulinus or Isaac Wood, is known as Siah’s Backbone and was named after him as he was known for his supple spine!
Josiah's Cup

Siah’s cup will be put on display in the Pitcairn Norfolk Gallery upstairs in the Pier Store, allowing future generations of Norfolk Islanders to see and learn from it. It is an object that holds great significance and value to this community. The stories of Siah’s Cup tell us about the people of this island, their history and culture. It will sit proudly alongside other objects owned by Islanders that also help to tell our stories. We are very thankful to Charles for bequeathing Siah’s Cup to the Museum and to Robert, Sue and their families for delivering their precious family cup to us. 

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