Barbados slave registers

Introduction

The records of the slave registries are among the most important and comprehensive for slave research in the British West Indies for the period 1812 to 1834. The slave registers provide a census of all slaves and slave holders until the abolition of slavery on 1 August 1834.

Between 1812 and 1834 the British government and Anglo-Caribbean colonial governments registered the enslaved population to help manage the illegal movement of slaves following the abolition of the slave trade. See my article on slave registers for more information.

Original returns may survive in the local Caribbean archive, though  none have been found for Barbados. From 1819 copies (including the Barbados returns) were sent to the London Registry and these are held by The National Archives under the reference T 71

The registers were later used as evidence of slave ownership for the compensation awards following the abolition of slavery in 1834. A brief description of the awards and a database of the Barbados awards is on the Caribbean Family History website. A more extensive database for the all countries with biographical and other information on slave holders is at Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

Barbados slave registers were set up under the following acts:

  • No 343: An act for more fully ascertaining the slave population of the island, 9 Jan 1817 (CO 30/20, fo59-61 printed)
  • No 406: A supplemental act to an act intituled and act for the more fully ascertaining the slave population, 5 Dec 1820 (CO 30/20, fo 174-177, amending the 7th clause of number 343 of 1817: changes made to the registration form and only requires amendments to the slave population to be recorded)
  • No 554: An act to authorise a special registration of the slave population of the island, 7 Jan 1834 (CO 30/21, fo 307-310, reintroduces the general return but removes need to record employment)

What do the registers contain?

The first two returns (1817 and 1820) are general lists, equivalent to a census of every slave and slave holder, the following triennial returns (1823, 1826, 1829 & 1832) show amendments to the enslaved population such as births, deaths, transfers, and grants of freedom, the final return in March 1834, 6 months before emancipation on 1 August 1834, is another census which was used to categorise slaves for compensation purposes and for apprenticeship (which ended on 1 August 1838).

The returns are arranged by parish and initial letter of the slave holder; free-Black slave holders (annoted with FN or FM) tend to be listed at the end of the alphabetical lists.

1820 Barbados slave register page

1820 Barbados slave register page. Source The National Archives (UK) T 71/524 p31-32; on Ancestry

The returns are usually headed:

  • The return of [name of slave holder] of slaves [his/her/their] own property;
  • The return of [name of informant] of slaves the property of [name of slave holder], [reason why there were unable to make the return] for which they are [status of informant];
      • an informant could be manager, attorney, executor, guardian, trustee etc;
      • reason why the slave holder didn’t make a return could be because they were dead, a child, infirm, off the island etc.

Information on slave holders:

  • the heading of the return can indicate if the slave holder is dead and give the name of the executor who may be next of kin; if the slave holder is a child (minor) the the return will name of their guardian;
  • free Black slave holders are found at the end of each alphabetical section and abbreviated FM (“Free Mulatto” for someone of mixed European and African heritage) or FN (“Free Negro” for someone of pure African heritage);
  • slave holders are named in the returns against the names of slaves who are purchased, sold or transferred.

Information on enslaved people:

The returns for Barbados are among the less useful of the returns with slaves listed by gender and age and recorded by the plantation name so there is usually often to indicate relationships.

  • Name – usually without surnames
  • Gender – the lists are arranged by gender and then decreasing in age
  • Age – this may be approximate for African-born people
  • Colour – this is usually “Black” for someone of pure African-heritage or “Coloured” for someone of mixed European-African heritage
  • Employment – the 1817, 1820 and 1834 registers record employment; the 1834 return records people as Domestic or Labourer, using the classifications to be used for compensation purposes
  • Country – of birth – usually Barbados or Africa; the term creole means someone born in the Caribbean eg Creole of St Vincent
  • Cause of increase since the last return – eg by birth, purchase, or gifts etc and the name of seller
  • Cause of decrease since the last return –  eg by death, sale, or manumission (freedom) etc and the name of purchaser.

How to use the registers online

Most of the registers have been digitised and indexed by Ancestry as Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834, this a subscription service. All of the Barbados returns are available.

You can search by name of the enslaved person or browse by parish. Use the keyword box to search for slave holders. 

There may be times when you want to browse particular parishes for example if there is an error in the database, because you are looking for a named plantation or slave holder which has not been included in the online databases. This can occur if a return does not name any enslaved people because there wasn’t a change in the slave population; there may be information about the slave holder. 

Search or browse the Barbadian slave registers, 1817-1834, on Ancestry

Search or browse the Barbadian slave registers, 1817-1834, on Ancestry

The registers are arranged by parish and the following tables list the references and folio or image number for each parish.

Within each parish the volumes are arranged by the initial letter of the slave holder.

1817

Parish Volume Reference Folio Ancestry
St Michael 1 T 71/520 1 Barbados, 1817 part 01, image 3
St George 1 T 71/520 634 Barbados, 1817 part 01, image 322
Christ Church 2 T 71/521 1 Barbados, 1817 part 02, image 2
St Philip 2 T 71/521 283 Barbados, 1817 part 02, image 148
St John 2 T 71/521 557 Barbados, 1817 part 02, image 291
St Joseph 2 T 71/521 708 Barbados, 1817 part 02, image 370
St James 3 T 71/522 1 Barbados, 1817 part 03, image 4
St Thomas 3 T 71/522 111 Barbados, 1817 part 03, image 62
St Andrew 3 T 71/522 262 Barbados, 1817 part 03, image 140
St Peter 3 T 71/522 359 Barbados, 1817 part 03, image 191
St Lucy 3 T 71/522 541 Barbados, 1817 part 03, image 291
  Index T 71/523   Can’t find on Ancestry

1820

Parish Volume Reference Folio Ancestry
St Michael 1 T 71/524 1 Barbados, 1820 part 01, image 3
St George 1 T 71/524 745 Barbados, 1820 part 01, image 395
St George continued 4 T 71/527 92 Barbados, 1820 part 4 & 1823 part 1, image 49
Christ Church 2 T 71/525 1 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 3
St Philip 2 T 71/525 319 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 173
St John 2 T 71/525 616 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 330
St Joseph 2 T 71/525 799 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 426
St Joseph continued 4 T 71/527 1 Barbados, 1820 part 4 & 1823 part 1, image 3
St James 3 T 71/526 1 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 446
St Thomas 3 T 71/526 142 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 518
St Andrew 3 T 71/526 333 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 617
St Peter 3 T 71/526 445 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 674
St Lucy 3 T 71/526 632 Barbados, 1820 parts 2-3, image 778
  Index T 71/528   Barbados, 1820 part 4 & 1823 part 1, image 118

1823

Parish Volume Reference Folio Ancestry
St Michael 1 T 71/529 1 Barbados, 1820 part 4 & 1823 part 1, image 218
St George 3 T 71/531 1 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 236
Christ Church 1 T 71/529 644 Barbados, 1820 part 4 & 1823 part 1, image 555
St Philip 2 T 71/530 1 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 3
St John 2 T 71/530 184 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 94
St Joseph 2 T 71/530 291 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 148
St James 3 T 71/531 248 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 326
St Thomas 3 T 71/531 133 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 303
St Andrew 2 T 71/530 369 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 187
St Peter 3 T 71/531 313 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 396
St Peter continued 4 T 71/532 1 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 426
St Lucy 4 T 71/532 90 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 472
  Index T 71/533   Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 525

1826

Parish Vol references fo Ancestry
St Michael 1 T 71/534 1 Barbados, 1823 parts 2-4 & 1826 part 1, image 637
St Michael continued 2 T 71/535 1 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 4
St George 2 T 71/535 267 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 147
St George continued 5 T 71/538 1 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 553
Christ Church 3 T 71/536 1 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 196
St Philip 3 T 71/536 194 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 297
St John 3 T 71/536 350 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 376
St John continued 4 T 71/537 1 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 389
St Joseph 4 T 71/537 62 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 422
St James 5 T 71/538 123 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 621
St Thomas 5 T 71/538 29 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 567
St Andrew 4 T 71/537 164 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 473
St Peter 5 T 71/538 201 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 661
St Lucy 4 T 71/537 218 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 501
  Index T 71/539 201 Barbados, 1826 parts 2-5, image 740

1829

Parish Vol Reference fo Ancestry
St Michael 1 T 71/540 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 4
St Michael continued 2 T 71/541 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 202
St George 4 T 71/543 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 570
Christ Church 3 T 71/544 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 4
St Philip 3 T 71/544 193 Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 106
St John 4 T 71/543 124 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 634
St Joseph 4 T 71/543 291 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 672
St James 5 T 71/542 99 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 428
St Thomas 5 T 71/542 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 374
St Andrew 4 T 71/543 303 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 724
St Peter 5 T 71/542 205 Barbados, 1829 Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, image 488
St Lucy 6 T 71/545 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 195
  Index T 71/546   Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 248

1832

Parish Vol TNA references fo Ancestry
St Michael 1 T 71/547 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 357
St Michael continued 2 T 71/548 1 Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 547
St George 4 T 71/550 1 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 187
Christ Church 3 T 71/549 1 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 4
St Philip 3 T 71/549 194 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 108
St John 4 T 71/550 138 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 259
St Joseph 4 T 71/550 228 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 304
St James 5 T 71/551 124 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 431
St Thomas 5 T 71/551 1 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 370
St Andrew 4 T 71/550 307 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 344
St Peter 5 T 71/551 193 Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 469
St Lucy 2 T 71/548 307 Barbados, 1829 Parts 3, 6; 1832 part 2, image 705
  Index T 71/552   Barbados, 1832 parts 3-5, image 555

1834

Parish Vol TNA references fo Ancestry browse
St Michael 1 T 71/553 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-3, image 5
St Michael continued 2 T 71/554 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-3, image 235
St George 5 T 71/557 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 178
Christ Church 3 T 71/555 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-3, image 431 (end 617)
St Philip 4 T 71/556 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 4
St John 6 T 71/558 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 319
St Joseph 7 T 71/559 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 416
St James 10 T 71/562 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 615
St Thomas 9 T 71/561 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 523
St Andrew 8 T 71/560 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 493
St Andrew continued 10 T 71/562 147 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 688
St Peter 11 T 71/563 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 734
St Lucy 12 T 71/564 1 Barbados, 1834 parts 1-12, image 849 (end 954)
  Index T 71/565   Barbados, 1834 parts 5-12, image 781
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