Category Archives: Genealogical sources

DNA: which test?

I have taken quite a few genetic tests and for over 10 years have included DNA tests in talks and articles and so I am occasionally asked to recommend particular companies for tests.

I am really just a novice and am still trying to make sense of what the results tell me. But I respond “it depends on what you are trying to find out”: maternal ancestry, paternal ancestry but most seem interested in the so called ethnicity tests (autosomal). This makes sense for people with limited documentary evidence and/or mixed-ancestry but really at the moment this is the least useful for researching ancestral roots below continental level, but is great for connecting with close family.

For a recent talk recounting the motivation behind my family history research  and experience researching my Barbadian ancestry I thought it would be interesting to summarise results. Some of the information has been discussed in these pages: My genes and my genes update, but I was most surprised by the results when I saw my ethnicity tests in a table.

DNA ethnicity tests from 5 companies

Results from 5 ethnicity tests

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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.

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Barbadian contingents in the First World War

Roll of Honour, First World War. Barbados Volunteer Force.

Roll of Honour, First World War. Barbados Volunteer Force (source: TNA CO 1069/245)

This information is copied with some expansions from a copy of Percy Sinclair Leverick’s Directory, 1921, pp46-83, in the Barbados Museum Library.

I have added some occasional notes usually where the copy is unclear.

This post contains information from pp46-64. Pp65-83 is in part 2.

Barbados Citizens’ Contingent

Committee of Management

Dudley G Leacock, Esq, MCP – Chairman
JE Mayers, Esq – Honorary secretary
Lieutenant WM Bowring
RG Cave, Esq, MCP
FAC Collymore, Esq, MBE
Reverend Canon HA Dalton, DD
Reverend Fred. Ellis
EA Hinkson, Esq
AJ Mascall, Esq
G Douglas Pile, Esq
JH Wilkinson Esq
Harold Wright, Esq

Medical Board

Surgeon-Captain R Mortimer Johnson
Gerald Manning, MD
Norman D Parris, MD

The Barbados Citizens’ Contingent Committee was formed about the end of November 1915, and the original promoters of the movement were Messrs Dudley G Leacock, FAC Collymore and RG Cave.

The primary object of the Committee was to enable your men of respectable parentage to proceed to England to join His Majesty’s Forces – either the Royal Navy or English fighting regiments, and thus to take their part in the Great War. Continue reading

First World War records of service

This is portal page aims to bring together websites which provides information about people from Anglo-Caribbean countries who served in the First World War in the British army, navy, air forces and merchant navy. Continue reading

Reginald Anthony Grannum searching for his birth

All genealogists and historical researchers will have unfinished work. For every piece of information found there will be at least one new question to find an answer for. Some questions will be easier to answer than others and thanks to the internet and growth of online historical catalogues and indexes and digitised archives many are far easier to find now that in the past. But many will still elude you. These get put to one side and many will be forgotten.

Family picnic Clifton Yvonne and Anthony
Clifton, Yvonne and Anthony on a picnic (place and date unknown but possible late 1920s)

Looking at my family tree the other day I remembered that I had a gap for my grandfather’s brother. My grandfather (Clifton Winnington Grannum) died in the Second World War and over the past 40 years or so the family had lost contact with his brothers and sisters. They had met his sisters (Dorothy) Edmee  and (Joyce) Yvonne and their children but I don’t think that they had met his brother. In fact they were uncertain about his name and so on my family tree I had written Robert Anthony Grannum (he was known as Tony). I wrote ‘Robert’ in my wiki article about my great-grandfather Reginald Clifton Grannum and an MGrannum in November 2010 amended it to Reginald. While I was researching my great-grandfather I noted that he had taken extended leave in 1911 and 1913 and assumed that this was due to the births of his two youngest children and that there were probably born in either British Guiana (where he was working and living) or Barbados (where his family lived). Continue reading

First World War Soldiers’ Documents

Findmypast has recently launched indexed images for people who served in the British army during the First World War. Read their blog for more information.

These service and pension records are held by The National Archives (UK) in two collections:

  1. Soldiers’ Documents, First World War ‘Burnt Documents’ (reference: WO 363). This collection comprises the main set of service papers for soldiers who served in the British army and were discharged between 1914 and 1921; there are some earlier papers. Unfortunately, 60% of these records were destroyed in the Second World War and the surving records are known as the ‘burnt documents’. There are papers for about 300 soldiers of the West India Regiment (most relate to discharges before 1914) but it seems that the rest of the records for soldiers of the West India Regiment and for the British West Indies Regiment were destroyed.
  2. Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims, First World War (reference: WO 364). This collection is commonly known as the ‘unburnt documents’ 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 will find papers for many Jamaicans in the British West Indies Regiment who were discharged in 1916 suffering the effects of the cold (frostbite). They were travelling to Alexandria, Egypt aboard the SS Verdala and were equipped with tropical clothing. However, they needed to travel in convoy and were diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia during the winter!

The two collections have been available online on Ancestry in partnership with The National Archives for a few years but I did find some new information and records. Continue reading

Caribbean contribution in the First World War

This is an introduction to a number of short blogs on sources for researching Caribbean service personnel in the First World War.Bahamas enlistment poster from wikicommons

At the outbreak of the First World War there were Caribbean and people of Caribbean descent already serving in the British army in British regiments and the West India Regiment, the Royal Navy and the merchant navy.

In the Caribbean the war was seen by many as a ‘white-man’s war’ or a European war and not their problem. But many wanted to serve to protect the Motherland and to fight as equals. Caribbeans living in Britain enlisted locally; people living in the Caribbean at first needed to travel to Britain to enlist. In Barbados and Trinidad the public arranged for citizens’ contingents to travel to the UK – these were ‘white’ middle-class men – planters, merchants, public servants and clerks, though correspondence with the Colonial Office suggests many were not pure-European. Many black men also made their way to Britain but the War Office resisted recruiting black Caribbeans and even suggesting repatriating some back to the Caribbean. Continue reading