TRINIDAD SLAVE REGISTERS

See:

Tobago Slave Registers

 

For the many people of slave descent in Trinidad, researching the slave registers may add to the family history. The registers

provide useful personal information on the enslaved people. From the Triennial Returns, the researcher learns whether the

individual is a personal slave, lives in Port-of Spain, etc or works on a named plantation. The enslaved person’s tribe or

country of origin, eg Ibo or Mandingo, or Creole of Martinique is also listed.

 

In March 1812 an Order in Council introduced the compulsory registration of all enslaved people in Trinidad, the first

registration ending in December 1813. The Order stated that the legal ownership of an enslaved person was dependent on

prior registration. Any subsequent changes, as a result of sale, manumission, birth or death, etc were to be recorded in the

owner’s subsequent returns. The Order in Council stated that the registrar of slaves should not own any slaves; however,

this stipulation was not strictly enforced. Duplicates of the Trinidad Slave Registers were forwarded to the Slave Registry in

London. These are now deposited at the National Archives, Kew.

 

In 1813 the majority of enslaved people in Trinidad were born in Africa. Most free people, including the free 'blacks' and free

'coloureds', owned at least one enslaved person as a servant, sometimes a relative. The average slave owner had only

seven slaves. It has been reported that, in the same year, 25% of all Trinidad's enslaved people lived in Port of Spain.

 

The Returns indicate when the individuals are part of a family, listing any brothers and sisters. Mothers are noted in the

returns but fathers are rarely recorded. The nature of the enslaved person’s employment, eg carpenter, mason or servant, is

given along with their age, height and whether they have any distinctive features or marks.

 

Following the initial Return, there is a section on Corrections, which is found in all the subsequent Triennial Returns. This

notes any increases in the numbers of enslaved people through births, inheritance and purchases or decreases through

deaths, bequests, sales and manumissions. Importantly, the name of an enslaved person who died since the previous

Return is listed.

 

Although, the Returns list the names of the slave owners, they do not provide the personal data as with the enslaved people.

 

Additional clues on slave and free coloured ancestry may be found, particularly, in the registers of Trinity Cathedral and the

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

 

Some of the original, hard copy Trinidad slave registers are held at the National Archives of Trinidad & Tobago (NATT).

However, it is impossible to tell from the NATT website its specific holdings of either the personal or plantation slave

registers. Consequently, T 71/504 (Trinidad Slave Register 1813 Personal Slaves Index to Slaves & Owners) and T 71/505

(Trinidad Slave Register 1813 Plantation Slaves Index), may or may not be available. The latter contains the first surname

index of slaves and an alphabetic list of plantation names, giving the first Folio Number.

 

Contrary to the NATT website, there was no break in the registration from 1816 to 1819 and the Protector of Slaves was not

the creator. It was the Registrar of Slaves, acting for the Registry of Colonial Slaves.

 

Microfilms of most Trinidad slave registers, except T 71/504 & T 71/505 (both critical) are also held at the

West Indiana Library (UWI), St. Augustine, under the entry:

 

Title:

 

 

Call #:

 

Item #:

 

Slave registration & composition records [microform]: registration of slaves in Trinidad & Barbados,

1813-1834

 

HT1105 T7 G74 1813

 

1700266638

 

At the National Archives, Kew, UK (NA, Kew) there is a complete, duplicate set of the original Trinidad slave registers. They

cover the years 1813-1834 and are listed under reference T71/501 to T71/519.

 

Personal Slaves

 

NA, Kew Ref

 

T 71/503

T 71/504

 

T 71/506

T 71/507

 

T 71/509

T 71/510

 

T 71/512

T 71/514

 

T 71/516

T 71/518

Title

 

T 71/503 Trinidad: Personal slaves.

Trinidad: Personal slaves. (Index to Slaves & Owners)

 

Trinidad: Personal (index).

Trinidad: Personal (index).

 

Trinidad: Personal (index).

Trinidad: Personal (index).

 

Trinidad: Personal (index).

Trinidad: Personal (index).

 

Trinidad: Personal slaves.

Trinidad: Personal slaves.

Year

 

1813

1813

 

1815

1816

 

1819

1822

 

1825

1828

 

1831

1834, Mar

 

Plantation Slaves

 

NA, Kew Ref

 

T 71/501

T 71/502

T 71/505

 

T 71/508

T 71/511

T 71/513

 

T 71/515

T 71/517

T 71/519

Title

 

Trinidad: Plantation slaves.

Trinidad: Plantation slaves.

Trinidad: Plantation (index).

 

Trinidad: Plantation (index).

Trinidad: Plantation (index).

Trinidad: Plantation (index).

 

Trinidad: Plantation slaves.

Trinidad: Plantation slaves.

Trinidad: Plantation slaves.

Year

 

1813

1813-1816

1813

 

1819

1822

1825

 

1828

1831

1834, Mar

 

The above National Archives, Kew reference numbers and register titles, obtained from the NA Kew website, give little help

in deciding how to proceed. The term 'index' gives no indication of what has been indexed. In most of the volumes, there is a

surname index for each owner, giving his or her full name and also that of the enslaved people, but only where there has

been a correction to the previous Triennial Return. These indexes do not give the names of either all owners or all enslaved

people during a particular year when the Returns were being compiled.

 

For further information, see:

Slave Registers (Trinidad) Personal Notes

 

Slave Registers (Trinidad) Plantation Notes

 

Trinidad Slave Registers Research

 

There has been little detailed comprehensive research on the Trinidad slave registers by historians, and their value for family

history research also remains largely undiscovered.

 

Most Returns from the Caribbean colonies list slaves by gender and then by age, but some, such as St Lucia and Trinidad list

enslaved people in families (usually headed by the mother) and often record the relationship with other family members if

they are on the same Return. However, it has been reported that some of the Trinidad Slave Register Returns give the name

of the father of a child.

 

Trinidad Slave Registration: The Historical Context

 

If you wish to learn more of the historical conext of slave registration in Trinidad, it is suggested you read pages 19-39 of

chapter 2 (The Process of Slave Registration) in Noel Titus’ excellent research.

 

Trinidad Slave Registers Online

 

If you have managed to trace back to slavery days, ie prior to 1834, you should check out the website of Ancestry, UK which

states that it has digitised all the Trinidad Slave Registers. The National Archives, Kew microfilms were used for the

digitisation process. Unfortunately, it has been reported that a poor quality microfilm image, in a number of instances, has

inevitably resulted in some unreadable digital images, when it is known that the original page, in the hard copy volume, is

perfectly readable.

 

Ancestry, UK, at the present time, does not use the National Archives, Kew reference numbers to identify which pieces are

online. Only the Trinidad pieces below appear to be ‘fully’ online and they are not accessible in the same manner as the

original volumes and microfilm copies. This can be problematic for historians who wish to access the slave registers by T71

number and in the way in which they were compiled.

 

Ancestry Website Name

 

 

Personal slaves 1813

Personal (index) 1815

 

Plantation slaves 1813

Plantation (index) 1819

Public Record Office’ (NA, Kew)

Slip on right of Image

 

T 71/503

T 71/506

 

T 71/501

T 71/508

 

It appears from the Public Record Office’ (National Archives, Kew) Slip on the far right of the second half of the Image that, in

respect of 1813 Personal Slaves, T 71/504, (Index to Slaves & Owners) is NOT online. Similarly, NOT online is the 1813

Plantation Slaves, T 71/505, the first Index volume containing

 

a) an introductory surname index of plantation slaves in 1813;

b) an alphabetic list of plantation names, giving the first Folio Number, and

c) a list of new plantations.

 

See:

Slave Owners Compensation (Trinidad)

 

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Trinity Cathedral

 

Catholic Slave Baptisms

Catholic Slave Marriages

 

Land Sales to Former Slaves

Slavery Days in Trinidad: Recommended Reading

 

National Archives, Kew, UK

National Archives of Trinidad & Tobago

West Indiana Library (UWI)

 

Return to the top of the page