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This is just in from the folks at Ancestry.co.uk. All inquiries should be addressed to: support@Ancestry.co.uk
HISTORICAL RECORDS OF SLAVES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE LAUNCH ONLINE
Ancestry.co.uk launches the names of 100,000 Barbados slaves - Former Colonial Dependencies Slave Register Collection, 1812-1834
Ancestry.co. uk today launched its black history collection with the Barbados Slave Register for 1834, which contains the names of 100,000 slaves and their owners working in the former colonial dependency, one of the busiest slave trade ‘hubs’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the height of the British Empire.
In the near future, the entire Former Colonial Dependencies’ Slave Register Collection, 1812 -1834, the definitive and only collection of slave registers kept by 23 colonial dependencies and overseas British territories which used slaves, will launch on Ancestry.co. uk. When complete, the names of an estimated three million slaves will be included.
The requirement for plantation owners to complete a slave register every three years from 1812 - or later for some colonial dependencies was due to the Abolition of Slave Trade Act, passed in 1807, which made trading slaves from Africa to the British colonies and territories illegal.
The Act required that British colonies and territories keep tri-yearly registers – by registering both slaves and their owners, the British Government was able to monitor slave ownership and stamp out illegal slave trading. No slave could be bought, sold, conveyed, imported, exported or inherited without first being registered.
The registers were submitted to the Office for the Registry of Colonial Slaves in London and now reside at The National Archives.
Containing around 186,000 pages of names in total, the registers were lodged between 1815 and 1834 however their regularity and accuracy depended on the willingness of plantation owners to cooperate and the effectiveness of local colonial rule in enforcing the law.
The 1834 Barbados Slave Register, just one of the series to be launched on Ancestry.co.uk, will be followed by those of other colonial dependencies and overseas British territories which used slaves.
Included will be Jamaica, The Bahamas, South Africa, Ceylon and others, creating the largest fully-indexed online database of slavery records pertaining to the British Empire available on the Internet.
Also released today is the English Settlers in Barbados,1637-1800 collection, containing the church records – baptisms, marriages and wills, for approximately 200,000 British settlers and their descendents living in at the height of the British Empire .
This collection will compliment the complete Former Colonial Dependencies’ Slave Register Collection by providing additional information and clues on the families who owned slaves.
About the Slave Registers …
The use of slaves in the Caribbean, much of which was colonized by the British in the early 16th Century, helped to meet huge demand for sugar across the Empire and in Europe and secured England’s position as the wealthiest nation in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Barbados, one of the most ‘British’ islands in the Caribbean and therefore most effectively governed, returned detailed, accurate registers with greater regularity than others.
The 1834 Barbados Slave Register contains the names of 99,349 slaves and 5,206 slave owners – an average of 19 slaves to every owner, although the full collection does include several owning up to 400 slaves.
Of the 99,349 slaves listed, 46,347 were male and 52,982 female. A total of 26,787 were aged 10 or under. Slaves are listed firstly by parish, owner and then name of the slave, approximate age and in some instances birthplace. The lists illustrate how most slaves were given Christian names and took their owners’ surnames.
There are more than half a million people of black Caribbean origin* currently living in the UK : the majority of this group will have slave ancestors.
Famous living Brits with Barbadian ancestry include singers Des’ree and former All-Saints member Shaznay Lewis, footballers Ashley Cole and Theo Walcott, newsreader Moira Stewart and journalist Gary Younge.
Famous Barbadian Brits in history include John Harper, the first person of Barbadian / African descent to be elected to public office in Britain , whose grandfather was a freed slave, and Walter Tull, the first black British infantry officer and one of the first black professional footballers.
Ancestry.co.uk spokesperson Simon Harper comments: “As few records exist which document the lives of individual slaves, the Former British Colonial Dependencies’ Slave Register Collection, 1812-1834 will for many be the only record of their ancestor ever having existed and so represents a vital resource for everyone with or interested in researching slave ancestry.
“With few relevant collections online, it has not been easy for those with ancestors from former British colonies or territories to research their black family history however Ancestry.co. uk ’s new collection will help bridge major historical gaps for many people.”
Blackhistory-month.co. uk founder Mia Morris comments: "It is terrific that Ancestry.co.u k is making these slave registers and records available online for the first time. They provide a much needed piece in the puzzle for those of us wanting to find the truth about our ancestors."
*According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 565,876 people of black-Caribbean origin living in the at the time of the 2001 Census.