Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
SLAVES AND SLAVERY IN JAMAICA
Under the command of Penn and Venables the English captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. In 1662 there were about 400 Negro slaves on the island. As the cultivation of sugar cane was introduced, the number of slaves grew to 9,504 by 1673. The landowners acquired more slaves to do the work on the estates, and in 1734 there were 86,546 slaves. In 1775 there were 192,787. The 19th century Almanacs on this site show the numbers of slaves on each property, until slavery was finally abolished.
In the meantime, there were movements in England pushing for the abolition of slavery. In 1807 the African slave trade was abolished by Parliament, effective January 1, 1808. Theoretically this meant that no more slaves could be brought from Africa to the colonies in the British West Indies, but slaves could be transported from one colony to the other.
Recognizing that the law was not being adhered to, the House of Commons in England passed a bill in 1815 requiring the registration of slaves. It became effective when it was adopted by the colonial legislatures. In 1816 an act was passed for a more particular return of slaves with more information, effective in June 1817, to keep a stricter check on any movement of the slaves. Returns were made until 1834.
In 1823 the British government pledged to adopt measures for the abolition of slavery in the colonies. In the ensuing years there was a considerable exchange of letters on the subject between Britain and the colonies, particularly the legislatures and planters. The slaves by this time were agitated about their status, as the slave trade had already been abolished. In 1824 there was a slave insurrection in Hanover, followed in 1831 by a more widespread insurrection in the county of Cornwall. In June 1833 the governor wrote a Proclamation to the slaves to clarify their status. By December 1833 there was a Bill for the abolition of slavery, and it became effective on August 1, 1834. At that time all slaves became apprentices. They remained working for the same slave masters. The system was a failure, and that too was abolished. Slaves received their unrestricted freedom on August 1, 1838.
Relative to slavery in the British colony of Jamaica, please see the following items on this site:
Among the manuscripts donated by C. E. Long to the British Museum there were statistics on the number of slaves shipped into and out of Jamaica from 1702 to 1787. See the combined data at Slave shipments
A Letter from the Governor concerning the First Maroon War, and steps taken in the aftermath.
Excerpts from the Courant for June 22 to 29, 1754, contain the names of some runaway slaves or indentured servants, and information about them. See Courant 1754.
Acts of the Jamaican Assembly 1760-1810 with respect to certain people of African or part-African descent. Acts of Assembly, and Acts of Assembly (2)
Reports of the 1776 slave uprising in Hanover, taken from newspapers, and private letters.
The Marriage Contract between Joseph Thomas Patrice DuBourg and Josephine Charlotte Benigne Brusle widow de Mauleon (translated from the French). The contract lists the names of 95 slaves.
A Return of the Number of White Inhabitants, Free People of Colour and Slaves in Jamaica in 1788, by Parish. This list is from CO 137/87. It consists of total number of persons in each category in each parish, and it contains no names. It also shows the number of Maroons in each area. It is typical of the kind of "census" that was sent to England from Jamaica in the early days. See 1788 Return.
Letter from John Fowler, Jamaica, dated 1789, to James Stothert, referring to purchase of slaves.
An analysis of data for the ship "Crescent," and crew and slaves on board.
See Fowler 1789
List of Slaves on Golden Grove Estate 30th June 1790. This estate was in St. Thomas in the East.
Slave tables from the 1790 Almanac, showing statistics on slave trade with Africa.
Letter from J. Fowler, Jamaica, dated September 1790, concerning a recent delivery of slaves on the slave ship "Sarah".
An analysis of data for the ship "Sarah," trips made, and slaves on board.
A Bill of Sale for provisions purchased by John Fowler for the ship "Sarah" dated August 30, 1790.
See Fowler 1790
New Canaan Estate, St. James, Jamaica. Marriage settlement, November 2, 1791, between George William Ricketts and Letitia Mildmay. It includes a schedule with the names of about 200 slaves.
The ship "Daniel" left Africa in 1792 with slaves to be delivered to John Fowler in Martha Brae/ Falmouth, Trelawny. An analysis of the mortality rate of the slaves and crew.
See Voyage of the "Daniel" 1792.
It was common to put a Notice in the newspaper to seek the capture and return of Runaway Slaves. This is an example.
List of Slaves on Friendship Estate and Thatch Hill Penn in Trelawny in 1793
The Royal Gazette often listed the names and descriptions of runaway slaves, and the rewards offered by their slave masters for their return.
1802-1833 Colonial Office Correspondence on the subject of Religion among the slaves.
Some baptisms of Slaves and People of Colour 1804-1811 and 1824-1829, in the Roman Catholic Church, Kingston.
Some Slave Baptisms 1810-1811, in the Roman Catholic Church, Kingston.
Sale of land and slaves, Levy to Cerf. See Deed of Sale.
Baptisms of some slaves 1806 in the Anglican Church in St. Ann, showing the former slave name and the new baptismal name.
Baptisms of some slaves 1806-1814 in the Anglican Church in St. Ann, showing the former slave name and the new baptismal name.
Deed of Sale, Henriques to Henry Cerf. See slave sale.
1807-1808: Colonial Office Correspondence in the interlude between the passing of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and its implementation.
1808-1810: Excerpts from Colonial Office Correspondence concerning the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the continuing argument between the Government in Britain and the Assembly in Jamaica.
1814-1817 Returns of baptisms of slaves in Hanover, showing names of properties and proprietors, and number of slave baptisms by date, from Colonial Office Correspondence.
1815-1817: The reaction to the Registry Bill proposed for the Registration of Slaves, taken from Colonial Office Correspondence.
1816-1831 Amelioration of Slave Code, taken from Colonial Office Correspondence.
From the Slave Registers for St. Ann for 1817, four returns of slaves from the T71/43 records in the Public Records Office (National Archives) in England.
The 1817 Slave Registers for Cousins Cove in Hanover.
The 1817 Slave Registers for Davis Cove in Hanover.
Some slaves, found listed in documents in the Public Records Office (now the National Archives), London, as "belonging to" Garsias, 1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1832. Garsia2
Some lists of slaves belonging to Blair in Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth, 1817-1832.
Some lists of slaves belonging to James in St. Elizabeth, 1817-1832.
Some lists of slaves belonging to James, Elizabeth and the sons of Jonathan James, in St. Elizabeth, 1817-1832.
Methodist Baptisms of Slaves at Belmont in St. Ann were the first Methodist Baptisms in Jamaica, followed by some Negro Marriages.
Methodist Baptisms and Marriages of Slaves in the Montego Bay Circuit.
For later baptisms of slaves by the Methodists, until the abolition of slavery see Methodist.
Methodist Marriages of Slaves in the St. Ann Circuit 1818-1834.
Methodist Marriages of Slaves in the Kingston Circuit 1819-1834.
Methodist Marriages of Slaves in the Montego Bay circuit 1818-1834.
Methodist Marriages of Slaves in the Falmouth circuit 1824-1834.
These lists give the date, name of slave being freed, and the name of the person by whom the slave was manumitted. Manumissions
Addendum to Manumissions.
Mortgage from Wolff to Cerf. See mortgage.
1821-1822: Slaves and the Courts. Three incidents reflecting the increasingly tense situation, as found in Colonial Office Correspondence
These Returns of Slave Marriages have been transcribed from Colonial Office Correspondence CO137/162
Slave Marriages in the Parish of Portland, 1821-1825
Slave Marriages in the City and Parish of Kingston, 1821
Slave Marriages in the City and Parish of Kingston, 1822
Slave Marriages in the City and Parish of Kingston, 1823
Slave Marriages in the City and Parish of Kingston, 1824
Slave Marriages in the City and Parish of Kingston, 1825
Slave Marriages in the Parishes of Hanover and Trelawny, 1821-1825. The Hanover record includes the names of Estates that gave permission for the marriages.
Slave Marriages in the Parishes of St. John and St. Dorothy, 1821-1825. The records include the names of owners and Estates that gave permission for the marriages.
Slave Marriages in the Parish of St. Thomas in the Vale, 1821-1825. The records include the names of owners and Estates that gave permission for the marriages.
Slave Marriages in the Parish of Vere, 1821-1825. The records include the names of Estates that gave permission for the marriages.
Slave Marriages in the Parish of Manchester, 1821-1825
Slave Marriages in the Parish of St. Catherine, 1821-1825
Slave Marriages in the Parish of Port Royal, 1821-1825. The records include the names of owners and Estates that gave permission for the marriages.
Slave Marriages in the Parish of St. James, 1821-1825. The records include the names of owners and Estates that gave permission for the marriages.
NOTE: The reports for the other Parishes contained numbers only, and no names.
Deed from Cerf to Wolff. See Conveyance.
July 1824: The aftermath of the Hanover Slave Rebellion, as found in Colonial Office Correspondence
This report is taken from the 1834 book "Jamaica, as it was, as it is, and as it may be." There is a list of the properties burned in the County of Cornwall with the names of proprietors and properties, and the number of slaves. The list for St. James also includes the types of buildings that were burned. The list is followed by an explanation of its contents, and estimates of the financial losses caused . See 1831 uprising.
From a New York newspaper, brief accounts of the 1831-1832 slave rebellion.
The 1831 Slave Insurrection: Excerpts from letters from Jamaica stating opinions and the underlying issues, as found in Colonial Office Correspondence.
In 1655 the Spaniards, who held Jamaica, surrendered to the English of the expedition led by Venables. Before fleeing to Cuba from Jamaica's North Coast (from which Runaway Bay got its name), the Spanish freed their slaves, leaving them behind in the hope that they would fight the English. The slaves fled to the interior mountains. They were later called "Maroons" (probably from the Spanish word "cimarron" meaning "wild, untamed"). The numbers of the original Maroons were increased by the addition of runaway slaves who escaped their English masters. The Maroons sometimes raided the English plantations. In 1665 the English offered the Maroons land and full freedom if they would surrender. The offer was ignored by the Maroons, who knew that they were already free, and would not trust the English. Skirmishes between the English and the Maroons continued, finally escalating into Maroon Wars in 1738-1739 and ending with the signing of Treaties. Commissioners were appointed for the several Maroon townships and settlements, located in the Cockpit Country, and in Portland.
The 1831 Returns of the Maroons have been transcribed from CO 140/121 (Colonial Office Correspondence in the National Archives) for this site. The Returns contain the names of about 1600 people, and provide the ages of most of them. Some of the Maroons were also slaveholders, and their slaves were included in the Census. See the Returns of the Maroons :
Moore Town Officers and men
Moore Town Women and slaves
In 1740 Nanny, leader of the Maroons of Nanny Town, was granted land in Portland by King George II. The details may be seen on the Return of Land Grants in which hers is Grant #55.
1832-1833 Comments on Emancipation, prior to the government's final proposals,as found in Colonial Office Correspondence.
The Inventory of the estate of George Huie of Trelawny contains the names of over 50 slaves.
A Conveyance from Anthony Wilkinson to John Clark in 1838 included the names of 112 slaves, who were by then apprentices.
A proclamation by Governor Smith concerning apprentices from Colonial Office Correspondence CO 137/231-232.
Emancipation 1838, a view of Spanish Town square and the celebrations.
Report of Slave Compensation paid to former slave owners in St. Thomas.
Reception of members in the mission in Lititz, St. Elizabeth 1839-1845, containing new name, old slave name, country of origin, and residence in Jamaica . See links to Lititz receptions.
Excerpts from the book Jamaica in 1850 look at some of the causes of the economic problems of Jamaica in 1850.
Throughout the Registers of the various churches that are found on this site, there are people identified as slaves or apprentices. Many of the people in the early Methodist Registers of baptisms were slaves. Using the Search button, a search should be done for them by name, or doing general searches on the words "slave" or "slaves".
The names of slaves may often be found in Wills, as slave 'owners' left their slaves to their descendants or others. Sometimes a testator left instructions in the Will for certain slaves to be freed. For an example of a will with a long list of slaves, see John Malcolm's will .
An Inventory and Appraisal was made of the personal property and rights of deceased persons as a part of Probate. For some Inventories that contained the names of hundreds of slaves , see Inventories and Appraisals.
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