News & Reviews
Please contact us if you wish to share your discovery of any new and useful sources or if you want to make comments on any of the resources listed here.
Do you know of any talks, conferences or exhibitions relating to Caribbean genealogy or history? For general Black history events check out www.black-history-month.co.uk.
is a tutor for the first online Caribbean Family History course through Pharos Tutors - using pdfs and online chat it aims to introduce researchers with Caribbean ancestors to sources available in the UK and online to help you trace your family. The course costs £45.99 for 5 sessions.
Over five weeks the course covers:
- Introduction to Caribbean Genealogical Research
- Archives and Internet Resources
- Life Cycle Records
- Migration and Settlement
- Sources for Researching Enslaved People and Slave Holders
Register your interest with Pharos.
There are many other courses on Pharos Tutors which may prove useful - such as English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish family history; military records, passenger lists; using The National Archives online; US genealogy; immigration to the USA; and writing your family history.
Guy is also a tutor for Pharos Tutors course The National Archives Catalogue - Finding People. This course costs £33.99 for three sessions. The next course starts on 1 March 2013 and later on 13 September 2013.
The Caribbean Family History Group has two groups: in South London with support from the Lambeth Archives and the Black Cultural Archives and in Solihull. They have a blog which has some very useful and interesting articles, for example on Jamaican genealogy and Indo-Caribbean genealogy.
The Solhull branch is very active and holds regular meetings, plans visits to Family History Library in London, and has had stands at the inaugral Black History Month Live in 2011 and at Who Do You Think You Are. Live 2012; they will be at Who Do You Think You Are between 22 and 24 February 2013.
Merchant navy service records, 1918-1941: www.findmypast.com has digitised and indexed the merchant navy cards held by Southampton University and The National Archives. Information includes date and place of birth, rating, discharge number, ships served on (by ship's official number) and may contain a photograph. You can search by first or last name and place of birth. For example, there are 74 hits for John and Jamaica, 35 for John and Barbados, and 15 for John and West Indies which includes a number of seamen from the Dutch West Indies.
Passenger lists to the UK, 1878-1960: www.ancestry.co.uk has digitised and indexed in-bound passenger lists for ships arriving at UK which started their voyage outside of Europe and the Mediterranean between 1878 and 1960. You can search by passenger, ship, date, port of departure, and ports of voyage. One weakness is that port of departure is the port where the ship started its voyage and many ships which picked up their passengers in the Caribbean started their voyage in the Pacific - you can use ports of voyage to narrow your hits.
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database: www.slavevoyages.org is a database of slaving voyages from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean - you can search by region of departure or arrival, by period, by ship's name, by country, and by captain. There is also a database of some 67,000 Africans and African-Caribbean people who were 'released' from illegal slavers in Sierra Leone and Cuba
Slave Registers: www.ancestry.co.uk has launched indexes and digital images to the Slave Registers c1813-1834, and some registers of apprentices (1834-1835) held by the National Archives in Kew. You can search the index for free using 'slave' name, age, place of birth, country of residence, parish and/or slave owner access to the indexes is now free but you need to register to see them. See Your Archives (The National Archives' wiki) for more detailed information on the slave registers.
Slave Compensation Claims: http://compensations.plantations.bb is a database of slave holders, or their representatives in Antigua and Barbados who received compensation following emancipation in 1834. Under the terms of the 1833 slave emancipation act slave holders were awarded compensation for the emancipation of their slaves. You can search by claim number or by slave holder (or their representative). The database gives you the claim number, name of claimants, number of slaves and amount awarded. Once you have the claim number there are additional records where you can find out more about the slave holder and individual slaves.
WWI soldier's records (TNA series WO 364): hosted by www.ancestry.co.uk - this collection known as the unburnt documents is held by the National Archives (UK) and comprises service papers and other records for soldiers who discharged mostly between 1913 and 1921 through length of service or because of medical discharges. These include details for soldiers discharged from the West India Regiment, the British West Indies Regiment and of West Indians who served in the more familiar British regiments. You can search by soldier's name, regimental number, place of birth and place of residence, and by keyword - use keyword to search for Jamaicans. Unfortunately it is not possible to search by regiment so you won't find all papers for those Jamaicans in the British West Indies Regiment who discharged in 1916 suffering the effects of the cold (frostbite) after spending time on a boat in Halifax, Nova Scotia during the winter but equipment with tropical clothing as they were enroute to Alexandria, Egypt! You can search the index for free but there is a fee to see images. Some further information about these papers is on Your Archives.
WWI solder's records (TNA series WO 363): hosted by www.ancestry.co.uk - this collection comprises the main collection of service papers for soldiers who served in the British army who discharged between 1914 and 1921. Unfortunately, 60% of these records were destroyed in WWII and the remaining records are known as the burnt documents. There are papers for over 300 soldiers of the West India Regiment but it is believed that the records for the British West Indies Regiment were destroyed. Like the unburnt documents (WO 364) you can search by soldier's name, regimental number, place of birth and residence, and by regiment. You can search the index for free but there is a fee to see images. Some further information about these papers is on Your Archives.
Transportation to Australia, 1787-1868: hosted by www.ancestry.com.au - it is commonly known that after the American rebellion Britain stopped sending its convicts to its American colonies and instead from 1787 sent most of its transported convicts to its Australian colonies (then separate states). However, it was not just convicts from the UK that were sent and many people were sent from the Caribbean - most of these were soldiers and sailors convicted at military courts martial but a significant number were Black and White West Indians. Some of this information has been taken from transportation registers held at the National Archives (UK) and may include convicts transported to Bermuda and Gilbraltar. You can search the index for free but there is a fee to see images.
Passenger lists: www.findmypast.com has digitised and indexed passenger lists of ships leaving UK ports bound for places outside of Europe and the Mediterranean. The records are held by the National Archives (UK) and cover the period 1890-1960. You have to include a surname in the search and then you can refine by port of departure, port of arrival and date - so you can find migrants, travellers and returning workers, businessmen, civil servants and sportsmen. For example, you can find Richard Ollivierre (Indexed as R Ollivierre) and other members of the 1906 West Indies cricket team returning home from Southampton on RMS Trent; see Wikipedia for details on the 1906 tour.
Barbados manumissions (grants of freedom): 377 forms showing manumissions granted in Barbados between December 1831 and July 1834 (just before emancipation on 1 August 1834) have been uploaded onto www.plantations.bb/manumissions/. These forms are held by the Barbados Department of Archives. The information is listed by parish and then owner and contains the following information: document reference, date of manumission, slave owner, name of slave, and parish. Click on the slave name for further information about the slave owner and slave, such as colour and family relationships.
Stewart Johnson, Reading to Barbados & Back: Echoes of British
History: The Tudor Family of Haynes of Reading (Book Guild Publishing, 2011). The story of the Robert Haynes, his genealogy and descendants in Barbados.
Paul Crooks, A Tree Without Roots: The Guide to Tracing African, Anglo and Asian Ancestry in the Caribbean (Blackamber Books, 2008). A useful guide to help researchers trace their Caribbean families and explore the social context in which they lived.
Caribbean Roots: An introduction to tracing your Caribbean ancestors, by Guy Grannum, 20 pp (Caribbean Roots, February 2012). A booklet aimed at complete newcomers to Caribbean genealogy describing how to start their family history with links to useful resources such as Caribbean archive addresses. You can obtain copies from Caribbean Roots at £3.50 (including Postage & Packaging) - use the contact form if you would like a copy, from the Solhull branch of the Caribbean Family History Group, and at any events they hold a stall.
Freedmen of Barbados. Names and notes for genealogical and family history research, Jerome S Handler, Ronald Hughes, Melanie Newton, Pedro LV Welch, Ernest M Wiltshire (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2007). 100 page booklet contains the names and biographical information of over 1834 free Black people in Barbados before emancipation in 1834. $17.50 US dollars - see flyer and order form for more information (pdf 403KB).
Tracing Ancestors in Barbados by Geraldine Lane (Genealogical Publishing Co Inc, 2006) is the first comprehensive guide to Barbadian genealogical sources and techniques. It is a very practical guide and is a must have for anyone with Barbadian ancestors. See Geraldine's website for further information and some sample pages. This is an excellent template for any future Caribbean genealogical guides - if only there were more! You can buy copies from online American bookshops but it is difficult to obtain in the UK and I have copies for sale at £15 (including packaging & postage in the UK) - for the time being please use the contact form if you would like a copy.
Television & films
Who Do You Think You Are? on 10 September 2008, author, cook and actor Ainsley Harriott traced his Caribbean ancestors go to the BBC page for Ainsley's story and research. Previous celebraties appearing on Who Do Your Think You Are? are Moira Stuart who traces her Antiguan and Dominican roots, and Colin Jackson who looks at his Jamaican and Panamanian stories. These are available on DVD.
Trail Blazers - Paul Crooks talks to Kara Miller about his quest for his roots, his experience on the way, and his books. An inspirational journey researching his African-Jamaican roots back to Africa. In two parts on You Tube:
Empire's Children: Channel 4 examined the legacy of the British Empire through the eyes of 6 celebrities who were born, or who whose parents were born, in different parts of the British Empire - including the actor Adrian Lester who was born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents. See http://channel4.empireschildren.co.uk/index.php for further infomation on the series. The website also contains information on how to research histories and family histories for people from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana.
The First Black Britons (DVD) Sweet Patootee, 2005, director Cath Sheehan. Presented by Gary Beadle, this DVD describes the history of the West India Regiments, formed in1795 with predominant enslaved soldiers the regiments saw service in the Caribbean and West Africa, receiving 2 Victoria Crosses. It was finally disbanded in 1927.
Do you know of any family history software or CD-resources which may be of particular interest to Caribbean genealogists?