IA Events

Panel: The Structure of Slave Ownership in St Catherine, Jamaica and Nevis, 1817-1834

Publication date: Dec 19, 2013 12:56:06 PM

Start: Feb 19, 2014 5:30:00 PM
End: Feb 19, 2014 7:30:00 PM

Location: UCL-Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PN


Discussion panel with Kate Donnington (UCL) and Kristy Warren (UCL), who will present the following papers:

Kate Donington: The structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership: a case study of St. Catherine, Jamaica.

This paper will be based on preliminary research undertaken on slave and estate ownership in the parish of St. Catherine in Jamaica. St. Catherine is an unusual parish in that it encompassed an area which was home to both large scale sugar plantations as well as the urban centre of Spanish Town. Different forms of slavery co-existed within the parish; urban domestic and agrarian labour were both part of the experience of the enslaved. As the capital city of Jamaica, Spanish Town was rivalled only by Kingston in terms of its social, cultural and political importance. This is reflected in the slave registers and Jamaica Almanacs which give details of who the slave-owners were with property in the parish.

This paper will explore some of the initial findings in terms of identifying large scale plantation owners in the area. It will track some of the networks which were established through commercial, familial and marital relationships. It will end with a brief case study of the Ellis family. Although at this stage the project is focusing on the structure of estate based slave-ownership in the Caribbean, it will eventually concentrate on the world of the absentees in Britain. The Ellis family were among the earliest settlers in Jamaica and had made a fortune in plantation ownership. They were connected through marriage to the Longs and Pallmers in Jamaica as well as to the Holland family in England. Charles Rose Ellis was a powerful member of the London West India interest and a titled Lord. Despite the family’s transition into the nobility their colonial debt at the ending of Caribbean slavery was indicative of a wider pattern of financial decay in Jamaica. The paper will end with a brief examination of how the Ellis’s indebtedness was reflected in the compensation process.

Kristy Warren: Using the Slave Registers as a Source for Gathering Information about the Enslaved: A case study of St. Kitts and Nevis

Slave Registers were used throughout the British Caribbean from the early nineteenth century. The purpose was to ensure that planters were adhering to the law passed in 1807 which made the slave trade illegal. Across the region, these registers recorded basic information including name, reputed age, gender, and place of origin. Other information about the enslaved , including colour, employment, stature, and family connections, was also recorded with varying frequency in the individual islands. These sources can therefore provide a wealth of knowledge about enslaved people but also have limitations as a source. drawing on the research of Barry Higman, this talk will explore the possibilities and limits of these records by first providing a general overview of the registers. It will then focus on the registers of St. Kitts and Nevis to provide examples of specific registers. This will involve examining the similarities and differences between the records of each island. The talk will also investigate some preliminary findings concerning the information the registers can provide about the lives of enslaved children in St. Kitts.

Kate Donington received a BA in English Literature and History and an MA in Art Gallery and Museum studies from the University of Leeds. She worked for two years in the museum sector before leaving to join the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project at UCL as a PhD student. She is now a post-doctoral research associate on the Structure and Significance of British Caribbean Slave-ownership project at UCL.

Kristy Warren (UCL) joined the Structure and Significance of British Caribbean Slave-ownership project in January, having received a PhD in Sociology from the University of Warwick.

Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required.