Contemporary accounts

This guide was last updated in 2011

Research into West Indian ancestors can be very challenging but is also fascinating and well worth the effort.

The best guides to the lives of the largely-illiterate ‘ordinary’ whites are to be found among contemporary visitors’ accounts, inventories and wills, parish registers - there are records in St. Michael parish from as early as 1648 - and through reading between the lines of official correspondence, which can be found in the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and the West Indies, or in Colonial Office Records at The National Archives (in particular CO137 and T 71).

It is necessary to be aware that the Atlantic world was highly mobile throughout the period of the sugar empire. An ancestor located in Jamaica could have come from New England, Surinam or Barbados, rather than the British Isles.


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