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.
Results from 5 ethnicity tests
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.
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
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:
- 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.
- 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
I am doing some research on Caribbeans who served in the First World War for a talk in October. I want to include some case studies for people who received gallantry awards. I ran an internet search and found a lot of websites mentioning a Winston Churchill Millington. The websites say he served in the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR) in Egypt and Palestine and received a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). Many of the web sites include a photograph of him and one links to a photograph on Flickr with him receiving the medal from Major-General Chaytor.
I was immediately suspicious because most of the websites said more-or-less the same thing and none provided more detailed information such as battalion in the BWIR, regimental number and date of announcement of the award in the London Gazette.
There is a habit for websites to repeat information without first verifying it and I hoped to find out more.