PLANTATION LEDGERS AND ACCOUNTS
Whether you grew up in the heights and the terraces, one of the tiny villages that dot the island or in the Barbados Diaspora, chances are, your family history is tied to sugar cane plantations and records from those plantations can reveal something about your ancestors’ lives. Ledgers provide insight into the financial activities of the plantations where the ancestors worked and lived. This includes background into the business affairs of the plantation, including vendors and suppliers, skilled workers and laborers, local and overseas business partners as well as the type and quantity of goods traded. Surviving plantation ledger and account books are few in number. However, if you are lucky like me, you just might find one that has your ancestors’ names in the monthly accounting of income and expenses.
SLAVE REGISTERS 1817-1834
The British abolished the African slave trade by way of the 1807 Slave Trade Abolition Act. To enforce this act, the colonial government required that beginning in 1816, and every three years after that, anyone holding enslaved persons was to submit to the Registry of Colonial Slaves and Slave Compensation Commission, lists showing any increases or decreases in their slave inventory. Some years feature listings of all enslaved persons being held, while other years show an increase and/or decrease since the previous registration.
Were enslaved persons sold, purchases, manumitted, inherited, born, died? These slave registers are some of the most insightful evidence of the lives of Afro-Bajans during the slavery period. They include some of the earliest surviving genealogical data about the owner and enslaved. This might consist of names, place names, given names, occupations, age, birthplace, and color.
SLAVE COMPENSATION RECORDS
Plantations submitted claims to the British Colonial office seeking compensation for loss of slave labor as a result of emancipation. Individual claims may contain some genealogical data about the enslaver and the enslaved. (also see government records).
Once slavery ended, enslavers were entitled to lost compensation for the enslaved. If you know the plantation and enslaver, it is possible to see what the British Government may have paid them for the loss of slave labor. A bonus to this site is the ability to learn the names of slave owners and planters. See the website Legacies of British Slave-ownership below:
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.