Government Records give family history researchers an understanding of the legal environment ancestors lived in. Many laws regulated and exerted control over the lives of Afro-Barbadians in order to reap maximum profits from a sugar plantation economy which functioned on slave labor. The records also illustrate the absence of personal, political and religious freedom for Black ancestors.
Once slavery ended, enslavers were entitled to loss compensation for the enslaved. If you know the ancestral plantation and enslaver, it is posssible to see what the British Government may have paid them for the loss of slave labor. See the website Legacies of British Slave-ownership bellow:
This is an example of the data available for a St. Thomas plantation.
Barbados 2034 (Spring)
Claim Details & Associated Individuals
1st Aug 1836 | 161 Enslaved | £3384 15S 11D
Parliamentary Papers p. 325.
T71/897: John Trent, Constantine Estwick Trent and George Henry Dashwood were devisees-in-trust to the estate of Harrison W. Sober, late of St Thos. Counterclaims were made by the Daniels.
See also Barbados claim no. 4786.
LAND TAX – RATE BOOK
Land ownership has always been central to the Barbadian identity and the plantocracy controlled the majority of the land for most of the island’s existence. In the early 1900s, many Barbadians took advantage of the sale of plantation land being offered by many owners who were looking to benefit from the Panama remittances coming in the island. Many families, especially black ancestors, were able to purchase house and land for the first time. Listings of many of these early landowners can be viewed in the rate books held at the Barbados National Archives.