The Barbados-Carolina Connection

The historical connections between Charleston and Barbados run deep. Many of the colonists who founded the Carolina colony came to South Carolina from Barbados. Barbadians’ political, economic and cultural influence were great in the earliest years of the colony. In the first two decades after settlement, the majority of Carolina’s inhabitants – free and enslaved – came from Barbados.

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free women of color barbados handler archive

The success of sugar cultivation in Barbados by the 1660s propelled that island to the position of the wealthiest of the English colonies in the New World. As the island’s wealth grew, so did the number of colonists seeking opportunity in Barbados.

The population of Barbados boomed, and available land for cultivation grew scarce on this, an island about 1/5 the size of present-day Charleston. By 1670, Barbados’ population was estimated at 60,000 inhabitants. Approximately 60% of that number were enslaved Africans.

Barbadians’ political, economic and cultural influence were great in the earliest years of the colony. In the first two decades after settlement, the majority of Carolina’s inhabitants – free and enslaved – came from Barbados.

Some of the Lowcountry families with ties to Barbados include the Brewton, Bull, Colleton, Elliott, Fenwick, Gibbes, Harleston, Jenkins, Mathews, and Middleton families. Many other Lowcountry families have roots in Barbados.

If your family has roots in Barbados, here are resources to help you get started with Barbados genealogy.

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Tracing Barbados Genealogy Online

Many Barbados records are online. Most are free. Start with these comprehensive guides:

FamilySearch Wiki: Barbados

Tracing Ancestors in Barbados:

Caribbean Roots: Caribbean Ancestry and Heritage

Caribbean Surname Index

Digital Library of the Caribbean

Barbados Family Research Reference Guide by Donald L. Hinson, Jr.

Center for Barbados Studies in History and Genealogy

Caribbean Genealogy Research by Jim Lynch: an incredible compendium of Barbados records online

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Books: Barbados Research Guides

Tracing Ancestors in Barbados: A Practical Guide

by Geraldine Lane

Geraldine Lane Barbados Guide Book Cover

Published by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, USA www.genealogical.com

Paperback 6x9 ins 155 pages

Price: US$18.95, Bds$38.00

You can download a free E-Book with excerpts from each chapter of this book

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Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors

By Guy Grannum

Guy Grannum Resources Book Cover

Published by The National Archives Press

ISBN-10: 1903365384

ISBN-13: 978-1903365380

A comprehensive guide to Barbados records held at the UK National Archives.

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More Online Resources

Barbados Family Research Reference Guide by Donald L. Hinson, Jr.

Center for Barbados Studies in History and Genealogy

Caribbean Genealogy Research by Jim Lynch: an incredible compendium of Barbados records online

West Indian Plantations from Geraldine Lane, author ofTracing Ancestors in Barbados: A Practical Guide

ELearning Teachers’ Resources – Barbados/Carolina Connection from SCETV, Lesson plans for exploring the Lowcountry’s connection to Barbados

Barbados and Carolinas Legacy Foundation The Barbados and Carolinas Legacy Foundation was formed as a bridge to facilitate business, education, historical and cultural collaboration between Barbados and the Carolinas.

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Research in Barbados

Barbados Department of Archives

Contact: Department of Archives, Lazaretto Building, Black Rock, St Michael, Barbados, tel: (246) 425-1380, email: bda@caribsurf.com

What’s There:

  • Census Records
  • Immigration Records
  • Emigration Records
  • Deeds
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Wills, Probate Records
  • Voter Registers
  • Military Records
  • Index of Plantation Owners, 1630s-1950s
  • Manumission (Emancipation) Records
  • Parish Records: Birth, Marriages, Baptisms, Deaths
  • Church Records
  • Almanacs, Directories

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Barbados Museum and Historical Society Library

Contact: Barbados Museum & Historical Society, St. Ann’s Garrison, St. Michael, Barbados, tel: (246) 427-0201, email: museum@caribsurf.com

What’s There:

  • Early Newspapers
  • Plantation Records
  • Card Index of Plantation Owners
  • Church Records
  • Almanacs, Directories

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The National Library Service

National Library Service, Public Services Division, Coleridge St, Bridgetown, Barbados, tel: (246) 426-6081, email: natlib@caribsurf.com

What’s There:

  • Slave Compensation Claims
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