Tracing your ancestors from the slavery period

Thank you to all those who attended our September meeting and a warm welcome to newcomers.

We had a most informative and interesting meeting which gave us lots of information on tracing our ancestors from the period of slavery. This was the first of three meetings in which we will be discovering how to trace our ancestors from this period . Often records are scarce due to destruction, flood, fire, earthquakes and hurricanes which makes our research that little bit more difficult. This meeting gave us an insight into where to start our research and the records that are available to assist us.

There are some tips below from the meeting:

Before starting your search ensure you have:

  • Researched births/marriages/death dates and records
  • Name of enslaved person
  • Name of enslaver
  • Where they lived – island/parish/plantation

Records that can be useful include the National Archives – just typing in ‘enslaved’ and the island you are researching brings up a vast amount of information. If you find something relevant you can purchase the document from the National Archives or make a personal visit to Kew, London to view the records.

Note when searching, information available in all records varies depending on the island

Marriage records – there are dissenter lists available which include Moravian, Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist records. Please note Catholic and Jewish records are separate.

Always source your information – keep a note of where you found the information including the website and document number

Many Jamaica documents, including Manumission and Wills have been transcribed onto Jamaica Family Search Just enter what you are looking for into the ‘search’ box

Useful Resources: – Endangered Archive Programme – British LIbrary – Slave compensation records

Books mentioned included

Alex Renton – Blood Legacy

Richard Atkinson – Mr Atkinson’s Rum Contract

Guy Grannum – Tracing your Caribbean Ancestors

Comments at the end of the session described the meeting as ‘moving and painful’. Researching ancestors from this period is not easy. It involves painstaking searching , often trawling through lots of documents to find names that you recognise. It is a time consuming and emotional journey but may bring you success and take you back further on your family history journey.

Our next meeting is on Saturday 29th October at 14.00hrs (BST) This will be part of our Open Day for Black History Month in the UK. We will hear from Steve Porter who will be talking us through researching individuals during the period of slavery. To reserve your place, email mailto: