Posted on 3 Comments

Tracing Barbados Ancestors

Tracing Ancestors in Barbados

When the first English explorers landed there in 1625, they found it to be uninhabited, having been abandoned by its Native American settlers a century earlier. England settled Barbados in 1627 and, owing to the success of the sugar industry there, would continue to rule it until 1966.

By the 1650s, sugar had made the island the wealthiest colony in the British Empire. Fortunes were to be made there, and a variety of immigrants arrived—from sons of the wealthy to indentured servants. Convicts and political rebels were dispatched to Barbados, and the insatiable need for labor on the island’s plantations gave rise to a profitable Atlantic trade in African slaves.

Not everyone who settled or was born in Barbados was destined to live his/her entire life there. Throughout the colonial period, for example, owing to the slave trade, tropical climate, the fortune-hunting mentality behind much of its settlement, and other factors, many of Barbados’ early settlers grew disenchanted. Farmers, former servants, and Africans and African Americans (by virtue of the slave trade) found their way to other Caribbean islands and the Americas—sometimes without mention of their origins. The foundation of the South Carolina rice industry, after mid-century, was built on the importation not only of slave laborers from Barbados but the colony’s very own slave code. Other islanders emigrated to New England or the middle colonies, responding to opportunities created by the triangular trade between North America, Europe or Africa, and the West Indies, as well as by the promise of cheap, abundant land. Following full emancipation in Barbados in 1838, thousands of former slaves headed for Trinidad, British Guiana, Suriname, and Panama. By the 1920s, the U.S. had become the most popular destination.

These aspects Barbadian emigration, compounded by the difficulty in locating certain kinds of records, have created the need for a comprehensive guide to Barbadian genealogy, a need now met by genealogist Geraldine Lane’s book, Tracing Ancestors in Barbados: A Practical Guide.

Tracing Ancestors in Barbados covers all segments of Barbadian society, from the planter families to indentured servants and the tens of thousands of Africans brought in as slaves. It is designed to guide the reader through the many types of records and published sources that chronicle the lives of the people of Barbados. Ms. Lane’s book runs the gamut of genealogical sources, including: records of birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial; Catholic, Jewish, and non-conformist records; census records and other lists of people; wills, letters of administration, and inventories; gravestones and cemetery records; newspapers and directories; deeds and powers of attorney; plantation and land ownership records; military records; immigration and emigration records; slave records; secondary sources; and much, much more. Ms. Lane also discusses the impact of the Internet and DNA evidence on Barbadian family history. 

In short, here is expert work that will ground the novice in the basics of Barbadian family history AND enlighten the experienced researcher about sources he/she has never considered. Illustrated, complete with a glossary, appendices and index, and modestly priced, Tracing Ancestors in Barbados is the one tool you will need to discover those elusive forebears from Barbados.

Collections of Barbados Genealogies and Source Records

Genealogies of Barbados Families

Records of Barbados families exist in a variety of places. Indeed, a great many were published in the turn-of-the-20th-century journals “Caribbeana” and “The Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society.” This present work contains every article pertaining to family history ever published in these journals. The combined articles, reprinted here in facsimile, range from conventional genealogies and pedigrees to will abstracts and Bible records, and they refer to some 15,000 persons, all of whom are listed in the index. View Book Details

Omitted Chapters from Hotten’s “Original Lists of Persons of Quality” 

Based on parish registers, censuses, and militia lists found in the Public Record Office in London, this work identifies 6,500 immigrants who settled on Barbados before planting new roots on the North American mainland and who are not listed in John Camden Hotten’s classic work, “Original Lists of Persons of Quality.” View Book Details

Barbados and Scotland Links, 1627-1877

Drawing upon a wide range of manuscript and published sources originating in Barbados, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, and the U.S., the author here identifies about 2,500 Scots or their progeny who made their way to Barbados. Most of these emigrants left Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since vital records comprise a large number of the sources for this book, most Scots are identified by name, date/place of birth, baptism, marriage, or death; name of spouse or parents; and, sometimes, occupation, reason for transportation, ship, religious or political persuasion, miscellaneous pieces of information, and the source. View Book Details

Barbados Baptisms, 1637-1800

Barbados’s surviving parish registers were all copied during the mid-19th century and deposited in a central registry. These parish registers, housed in the Barbados Department of Archives and transcribed by Joanne M. Sanders, form the basis of this reference work. View Book Details

Barbados Records: Marriages, 1643-1800. Two Volumes

Mrs. Sanders also transcribed the marriage entries from the surviving Barbados parish registers (see Barbados Baptisms, 1637-1800, above) for this two-volume collection. The marriages are arranged by Barbados parish and thereunder chronologically. A typical entry shows the date of the marriage and the names of the bride and groom. View Book Details

3 thoughts on “Tracing Barbados Ancestors

  1. Looking for the birth Certificate or any information on a Cecil Holder of Barbados in the late 1800s. before he immigrated to U.S. He’s my Grandfather

    1. Dear Mr. Holder,

      I regret that I don’t have the information on your grandfather you are seeking. Your best bet may be to go onto the site of the Association of Professional Genealogists and look for a Barbados specialist.

Comments are closed.