The vast majority of Blacks in the Atlantic world are descendants of Africans who were captured, branded, held in slave dungeons on the coasts of Africa, and forced aboard ships bound for slave plantation in European colonies in North America. European captors and slave masters, acting by the standards of the day, sold these Africans along the coast of Africa and in the Atlantic world. Slave masters denied Africans their basic human rights, including the right to their African identity and roots, the right to citizenship and the right to family based on the standards of the day. Yet, as historian Melville Herskovits and others have shown, Africans and their descendants survived the horrors of slavery and have solid retentions from their African roots.[1] It can be argued that family history and genealogy created a forum for exploring a very painful past for Blacks, however, this position fails to highlight the fact that our ancestors come from a rich heritage in which we can take immense pride.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is entirely possible to document Afro-Barbados roots. This was suggested in the 1977 television mini-series “Roots”, the saga of a Black family who traced their ancestry from a village in Africa to slavery on plantations in North America.  While it is true that Afro Barbadians who search for their own ancestry may find that there are gaps in the documentary evidence and a shortage of manuals to facilitate this vein of research, they will also find that these obstacles are surmountable.

Not every search will result in total success, but there is always another historical collection, another family line, another angle to explore. Once one begins to compile a family history, it seems the work never ends. The issue is not the lack of resources.  The question often is whether the full range of research methodologies is being deployed?  It is a myth that it next to impossible to trace Afro Barbados ancestors into the slavery era.

Descendants of Africans in the Americas recognize the need for the recovery and retelling their own history. Family history is a viable path to that objective. Consider the response from Nell Morris, Director of the Three Rivers Historical Society in Hemmingway, S.C., when asked about the absence of Blacks in the transcribed US census her agency published. She said, “if Black people want to know their history, I guess they have to do it themselves!”[2]  Taking this advice to heart, this writer has compiled the genealogy of the Ward-Olton family of Barbados. It is the evaluation and interpretation of data extracted from oral tradition, interviews, books, legal, parochial, and business records, photographs, painting, travel and employment records, visits to museums, archives, libraries, cemeteries, conferences and workshops, online repositories of historical data, and two decades of passion to learn and tell about this writer’s Afro Barbados, maternal lineage.

It is common knowledge that White settlers from England established a successful sugar plantation economy in Barbados. That success was dependent on the labor of Africans and Creoles whom they enslaved on plantations and in their homes. One of these colonists was Thomas Walke owner of Spring Plantation in the lush, rural parish of St. Thomas. In 1778, the Barbados High Court of Chancery conveyed to “Thomas Walke his heirs and assigns…the Spring Plantation situate lying and being in the said parish of Saint Thomas containing two hundred and ninety-nine acres and twenty perches of land or thereabouts be the same more or less with the crop thereon growing”.[3]  Walke also acquired “the plantation mansion or Dwelling house and Kitchen, windmill, Boiling House, Distill house, curing house, rum house, corn house, sick house, horse stable and all and singular other the houses and outhouses edifices structures and buildings”[4]. Probably the most important aspect of this acquisition was:

“…all those negro and mulatto slaves who names and sexes are as follow to wit:  Harry, Guy, Robin, Robin, Tongro, Little=Morgan, Cudjoe, Caesar, Simon, Jackey, Pam, Bacchus, Cuffey, James, Elepico, Frank, Quaco, Hickey, Pompey, Appello, Ned, Cudjoe, Mulatto=GeorgeTom—Quaco, Little Quacoco, Little=Peter, Jemmy, Sammah, Chance, Cham, Timm and Duke (Men) Poppo=Quasheber, Kate, Hannah, Sibbey, Katey, Mary, Betty, Subbo, Patience Indey, Present, Mulatto-Mary=Ann, Lucy, Rinah, Nanny=Monday, Dulches, Phibba, Sarey, Jane, Lilly, Betsey, Eddo, Hagar, Rachel, Chloe, Auber, Mimbo, Phebey, Orringe, Dido, Grace and Flora (Women) Nothing, Appeo, Sambo, Finney, Will, Guy, Providence, London, Tim, Robin, Ben alias Thomas, Toney, Polydore, Casar, Pompey and Sampson (Boys) Dandy, Pathena, Prudence Rose, Massey, Hannah, Easter, Joaney, Lucinder, Molly, Phobah, Nanny (Girls) Tradesman, Joe, Robin, Tom=Salmon, Robin, Grendige, Tom=Cutty, Ned, Dick, Scipio, Little Joe, Peter and John (House Negro Men) Seander, Casar and Sam/House negro women) Juggey, Amey, Fanny, Eve, cubbah Philley, Nancy, and Dido.[5]

Sometime after Walke purchased Spring Plantation in 1778, he acquired an African born woman called Great Kitty. This enslaved woman is believed to be the progenitor of this writer’s Ward-Olton family of Barbados.  Per the 1800 plantation inventory taken after Walke’s death, Kitty was valued at 80 pounds on the Barbados slave market. Kitty was a name shared by three other slaves in 1800, Little Kitty, Kitty Baker and Kitty Pallas. [6]

From 1817-1834, Barbados plantations produced successive “Slave Registers”. The 1817-1832 slave registers for Walke Spring Plantation indicated that Great Kitty was a black woman born in African in 1757 and employed as a house slave, until her death, which was recorded in 1832. Little Kitty was shown to have been born in 1777 and was a black field laborer born in Africa in one record and in Barbados in others.[7]

In 1838, Kitty was named in the Holy Innocents church baptism register as the mother of Mary Bella, an adult residing at Walke Spring Plantation. Mary Bella appeared in 1817-1834 slave registers along with Great Kitty and Little Kitty and was born in 1801. Kitty and Mary Bella are the first two generations of this writer’s Afro-Barbados matrilineal lineage.

Descendants of Kitty of Africa and Barbados, b. 1757 or 1777

The questions that remain are whether Great Kitty and Little Kitty, were born in Africa? Which one is the progenitor of the Warde-Olton family of Barbados? And is Great Kitty the mother of Little Kitty? For the purpose of the genealogy presented below, this question has been left unanswered.

Generation No. 1

  1. KITTY1 was born 1757 or 1777 in Africa, and died Abt. 1831 in St. Thomas, Barbados. She married UNKNOWN.

Child of GREAT KITTY and UNKNOWN is:

  1. i. MARY2 BELLA, b. Abt. 1803, Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. 25 Feb 1879, Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados (Assumed to be Buried Chapel at Holy Innocents or an unknown slavery burying ground on the plantation).

Mary Bella appears in successive slave registers for Walke’s Spring Plantation beginning in 1817. She was recorded as a black female laborer and was referred to at times as Bellah. In 1835, Bellah appears in the baptism record as the mother of Hannah Esther, who was born free under the Emancipation Act of 1834. On August 1, 1838, Bellah would have been set free along with all other enslaved persons on the island. One of her first recorded acts as a freedwoman was her own baptism in the tradition of the Anglican Church. In 1839, Mary Bella and Lewis Warde, a young man who grew up enslaved on the same plantation, were married. In 1858, Lewis Warde’s death was recorded in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents and nearly twenty years later, at the ripe old age of 79, Mary Bella Warde, a resident of Walke Spring Plantation was also recorded in the burial register for Chapel of the Holy Innocents

 Generation No. 2

MARY2 BELLA (KITTY1) was born Abt. 1803 in Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados, and died 25 Feb 1879 in Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados (Burial recorded Chapel at Holy Innocents). She married LEWIS WARD 10 Jan 1839 in Parish Church of Saint Thomas, Barbados in the presence of Joseph Jackman and GP Armstrong by WHB Bovell, Rector, son of UNKNOWN and MERCY WALKE.  He was born 1799 in Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados, and died 01 Aug 1858 in Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados.

Children of MARY BELLA and LEWIS WARD are:

  1. i. HANNAH ESTHER3 WARD, b. 1834, Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados. Baptised Holy Innocent 1835; d. 12 Oct 1912, Jackman’s Barbados, West Indies.
  2. ii. NANCY JANE WARD, b. 01 Sep 1842, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.
  3. iii. ELIZABETH MARY WARDE, b. 20 Sep 1845, Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. 20 Jun 1929, Walke Spring Plantation, St. Thomas.
  4. JAMES EDWARD WARDE, b. 1848, Walkes Sring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.
  5. WILLIAM HENRY WARDE??, b. 1850, Walkes Sring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.

In 1835, Hanna Esther was baptized in the Chapel of the Holy Innocents to an unwed mother who was an apprenticed laborer at Walke Spring Plantation. She was the first of in her maternal line to be born free in Barbados. In 1854, Hannah married John William a young man who was baptized as a slave in 1830 and resided on the plantation where she grew up. John William appeared in the 1832 and 1834 Walke Spring Slave Registers as a Barbadian-born colored boy of 2 -1/2 and 4 years respectively. John’s mother is unknown but she was likely Black and enslaved. John adopted the surname Olton as an adult and records show that Thomas Olton a white, married man was the overseer at Walke Spring Plantation in 1830. He was also a planter at Pleasantvale, an adjoining estate he owned.  John William and Hannah Esther had several children. Records of their baptisms reveal that John William Olton was a shoemaker for most of his life and over the years the family lived at four different plantations.. John Olton died in 1895 and Hannah in 1915 in Barbados.
Generation No. 3

  1. HANNAH ESTHER3 WARD (MARY2 BELLA, KITTY1) was born 1834 in Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados. Baptised Holy Innocent 1835, and died 12 Oct 1912 in Jackman’s Barbados, West Indies. She married JOHN WILLIAM OLTON 06 Jul 1854 in Holy Innocents in the Presence of Edward Lyte and Catherine Ann Lynch, son of THOMAS OLTON and UNKNOWN MAYERS).  He was born 1830 in Baptised 1830 at Holy Innocents and born on Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, and died 15 Jul 1895 in St. Matthews, St. Michael, Barbados, West Indies.

Children of HANNAH WARD and JOHN OLTON are:

  1. i. GEORGIANA (DAWDIE)4 WARD, b. 25 Apr 1852, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados, Baptised June 10, 1852 at Holy Innocents; d. Feb 1927, Airy Hill (The Alley), St. Joseph, Barbados (buried St. Anne’s Churchyard).
  2. WILLIAM HENRY WARDE OLTON, b. 06 Jul 1854, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Barbados, West Indies; m. ADRIANA BRATHWAITE, 26 Apr 1879, St. John’s Parish Church.
  3. iii. GEORGE NATHANIEL OLTON, b. 15 Mar 1858, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.
  4. JULIA ELLEN OLTON, b. 15 Jun 1860, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Possible Trinidad, West Indies; m. CHARLES PARKER.
  5. WILLIAM ADOLPHUS OLTON, b. 26 Jun 1862, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.
  6. MARY LOUISA OLTON, b. 05 Jan 1865, Rose Cottage, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.

vii.   MARY ELIZABETH OLTON, b. 20 Dec 1866, Rose Cottage, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. 20 Sep 1867, Unknown.

  1. viii. REBECCA OLTON, b. 07 Jul 1868, St. Michael, Bibby’s Lane; d. Unknown, Unknown.
  2. ix. JOHN WILLIAM OLTON, b. 10 Dec 1869, Lears, St. Michael, Barbados; d. 06 Oct 1943, St. Michael, Barbados.
  3. x. JOSEPH EMMANUEL OLTON, b. 12 Dec 1872, Holy Innocents, Barbados; d. Abt. 1941, George Village, Trinidad.
  4. MARTHA JANE OLTON, b. 07 Apr 1874, Lears, St. Michael, Barbados; d. Unknown, Unknown.
  5. xii. ALBERTINA OLTON, b. 25 Nov 1875, Walke Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Abt. 1973, St. Michael, Barbados.
  6. xiii. FITZGERALD OLTON, b. 27 Sep 1878, Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Parris Hill, St. Joseph, Barbados.


In 1852, Georgiana Ward was baptized the daughter of an unwed Hannah Warde, resident of Walke Spring Plantation.  She was the third generation of her family to be born at this plantation.  In 1881, an unwed Georgiana, not unlike her mother, grandmother and great grandmother, gave birth to a child, Barbara Leslie Olton. In 1884, Georgiana Olton, now using her father John Olton’s surname, was recorded as a 32 year old spinster and seamstress, entering a marriage to Joseph Emmanuel Brooks and the two resided at Bushy Park, a plantation a short walk to the east of Walke Spring and Pleasantvale. Joseph Brooks was the son of the Millwright at Bushy Park Plantation, James Freeman Brooks. Georgianna died in 1927 and Joseph Brooks in 1909.

 Generation No. 4

GEORGIANA (DAWDIE)4 WARD (HANNAH ESTHER3, MARY2 BELLA, KITTY1) was born 25 Apr 1852 in Walkes Spring, St. Thomas, Barbados, Baptised June 10, 1852 at Holy Innocents, and died Feb 1927 in Airy Hill (The Alley), St. Joseph, Barbados (buried St. Anne’s Churchyard). She married JOSEPH EMMANUEL FRANCIS THORNE-BROOKS 28 Jun 1881 in Saint Thomas Church, Barbados in the presence of Clarence Brooks and H. Olton, son of JAMES BROOKS and SUSAN THORNE.  He was born 21 Feb 1858 in Bushy Park, St. Thomas, Barbados , and died Abt. 1909 in Westbury Cemetery, St. Michael.


  1. i. BARBARA LESLIE5 OLTON, b. 12 Nov 1881, Pleasantvale, St. Thomas, Baptised December 31 at Holy Innocents by J. A. Eckel; d. 26 Mar 1967, Sugar Hill, St. Joseph, Barbados (buried St. Anne’s Church Yard).
  2. ii. CYRIL (BROOKS) OLTON, b. 03 Nov 1883, Pleasantvale, St. Thomas, Baptised 1/10/1884 at Holy Innocents; d. 18 Feb 1957, Sweetvale, St. George

iii.   ELTON FITZ STEPHEN BROOKS, b. 25 Feb 1886, Bushy Park Plantation, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. 1887, St. Thomas.

  1. MILLICENT ROSE BROOKS, b. 16 Feb 1888, Bushy Park Plantation, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. Unknown, Airy Hill, St. Joseph.
  2. v. BEATRICE DEODA BROOKS, b. Oct 1889, Bushy Park Plantation, St. Thomas, Barbados; d. 1935, The Russia, St. Joseph, Barbados.
  3. vi. CLARENCE BROOKS, b. Abt. 1890, Bushy Park, St. Joseph; d. 1954, Chimborazo, St. Joseph, Barbados.

vii.   HENRY CLIFFORD BROOKS, b. 24 Oct 1891, Bushy Park Plantation, St. Thomas, Barbados – ; d. Abt. 1918, 1917-18 World War I .

In 1881, Barbara Leslie Olton was baptized the daughter of an unwed Georgiana Olton who resided at Pleasantvale Plantation, the same one previously recorded under the ownership of Thomas Olton, former overseer and planter at Walke Spring Plantation. Barbara Leslie was the first generation of the writer’s matrilineal ancestor in one hundred years to have been born outside of Walke Spring Plantation. In 1907, Barbara Leslie married Edward Isling Yearwood and the couple migrated from Barbados that same year and moved to in the Panama Canal Zone, where he worked as an artisan. Barbara Leslie was the first Warde Olton matriarchs to reside outside of Barbados.

Generation No. 5

BARBARA LESLIE5 OLTON (GEORGIANA (DAWDIE)4 WARD, HANNAH ESTHER3, MARY2 BELLA, KITTY1) was born 12 Nov 1881 in Pleasantvale, St. Thomas, Baptised December 31 at Holy Innocents by J. A. Eckel, and died 26 Mar 1967 in Sugar Hill, St. Joseph, Barbados (buried St. Anne’s Church Yard). She met (1) GEORGE HERBERT RUDDER, son of WILLIAM BROOKS and ELLEN BEST.  He was born Oct 1877, and died in Died at Bellair House in St. George.  She married (2) EDWARD ISLEY YEARWOOD 25 Jul 1907 in Clifton Hill Meeting Room, Moravian Church, St. Thomas, Barbados in presence of Geraldine Forde and John Olton, son of EDWARD YEARWOOD and EMILY CARRINGTON.  He was born 14 Dec 1879 in Chimborazo, St. Joseph, and died Abt. 1940 in Panama.


  1. i. DAISY6 OLTON, b. 1900, St. Joseph, Barbados; d. 20 Jan 1997, Brooklyn, New York.


  1. iii. JULIAN (PLUMMY) ST. CLAIR6 YEARWOOD, b. 1912, Canal Zone, Panama; d. 07 Jan 1982, Parris Hill, St. Joseph, Barbados.
  2. iv. CLEMENT (ABOO) YEARWOOD, b. 18 Jul 1913, Canal Zone, Panama; d. 1998, Yearwood’s Road, St. Joseph, Barbados.
  3. v. CLARINE (KNOCK) ADINAH YEARWOOD, b. 30 Mar 1915, Sugar Hill, St. Joseph, Barbados, West Indies; d. 21 Jan 2010, Melvin’s Hill, St. Joseph (QEH).


[1] Melville Herskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past, (Boston: Beacon Press books,1990).

[2] Interview with Ms. Nell Morris, Director of the Three Rivers Historical Society, Hemmingway, S.C., 2001.

[3] Barbados National Archives. Counter Deeds 1680-1833, RB3/51. The Spring Plantation from Patrick Lynch/James Carter to Thomas Walke. 1777.

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Barbados National Archives. Inventory. Walke Spring, St. Thomas. Thomas Walke. 1800.

[7] Barbados Slave Registration 1817-1834,

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