Wills and Deeds: These are evidence of transfer of real property. They chart the distribution of this property and even more important they expose intra-family relationships. They are a critical source for determining family and friendship relations and raise questions about why particular family members were either excluded from or favored in the distribution of assets.
Wills and Deeds provide insight into the financial dealings of Barbadians. They are a critical source for determining family and friendship relations. During the enslavement period, these records reveal transactions that involve Afro-Barbadians as the property of enslavers and subject to being inherited, gifted, sold, purchased, transferred, and at times hired or loaned out as part of real estate and other business transactions. They may also show a manumission, sale, or other business transfer made by the enslaver. The following is an excerpt from one such document related to a St. Thomas, Barbados plantation.
In 1778, the Barbados High Court of Chancery conveyed to “…his heirs and assigns…the…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”.36 …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”37. Probably the most important aspect of this acquisition were: “…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.
Inventories: These are presented in writing and detail the property and assets, rights and credits, and, where applicable, the lands and dwellings owned. During enslavement, plantation inventories might list the given name, age, occupation, color, whereabouts, or even the market value of enslaved persons. The inventory might also list the buildings and implements used in plantation life. Plantation inventories are a valuable source of information about Barbados ancestors.
This inventory excerpt was part of the owner’s estate after his death in 1800. It lists names and slave market values for female ancestors at his St. Thomas, Barbados plantation. Great Kitty is among them, valued at 60 pounds sterling. This enslaved woman is believed to be the progenitor of the Barbados Ward‐Olton family of St. Thomas.
Manumission Records: These document the act of a slave owner freeing his or her enslaved persons. They exist for Barbados at different times in the enslavement period.
Slave Registers (1817-1834): These registers are some of the most insightful evidence of the lives of enslaved people. They include enslavers’ names, place names, given names, occupations, age, birthplace, and color. Some years feature listings of all enslaved persons on the plantation or in the home of slave owners. Other years list just the names of those who were sold, purchased, manumitted, inherited, born or died since last registration. These reports were submitted to the British Colonial Office as evidence that Barbados planters (named) were complying with the 1807 ban on the African slave trade.
Inventories are presented in writing and detail the property and assets, rights and credits, and, where applicable, the deceased’s lands, dwellings, buildings and implements used in plantation life. During enslavement, plantation inventories might also list the given name, age, occupation, color, whereabouts, or other information about enslaved persons. Plantation inventories are a valuable source of genealogical information.