Question of the Week: Do you have Caribbean roots?

+15 votes

imageDo you have any ancestors from the Caribbean? Tell us about them with an answer below, on Facebook, or use the question image to share it on social media.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
No, but some of my Ramson relations do in Jamaica, and I have researched people of Ramson sirname in Jamaica, and am happy to hear from people interested.
I am interested in Caribbean roots. I have ancestors that traveled from Spain to Puerto Rico in the 1400's. I am also interested in Taino people, to help other locate thier ancestors. Taino people was taken as slaves by the Spainards and the Portuguese explorers.
Greetings, my Jamaica Ramson families research was only within Jamaica, but my immigrant Ramson relation there became both a Government official, and a plantation owner. To my shock I found that he had slaves on the plantation, and I also found Ramson people on record who were referred to as slaves, and also of black ethnicity or pigment.

In a site regarding slavery in the Caribbean, I found reference that slaves were often 'given' sirnames of their 'owners'. That site or others on slavery in the Caribbean may be helpful to you.
My great great grandfather Alexander William Francis was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1837 and must have come to England with his brother Henry years later as he ended up living and marrying my English great great grandmother Sarah Baldry who was a widow with one daughter called Emma and was 19 years younger than him, I think they must have married around the early 1880s in Harwich Essex and then moved to Strood Kent according to the 1891 census. Does anyone know if ships regulary docked in London from the West Indies around that time, I know that he was probably born a free man as slavery had just been abolished in Jamaica. According to my DNA he was originally from the West coast of Africa and his ancestors where probably taken by slave ships to work on the sugar cane plantations but I have no idea when, His surname Francis was probably taken from his ancestor´s owners name. I have so many unanswered questions.
Can you please post the URL of the website? I would like to find out more about my great great grandmother, Mary Sawyer Wark, who lived in Jamaica. I think most of my West African ancestry came through her.

2 May 22 update:

Mary Sawyer was born in Scotland. My Caribbean roots are in the Bahamas, where my grandparents were born.
I would have to Google 'Slavery in Jamaica', or do a Search in Family Search for Jamaica and look for slavery associated sites. Can I suggest you do that and get back to me if necessary. I sincerely wish you success.
Can I suggest you do a FRANCIS sirname search for Jamaica in Family Search. It's free to everyone. This is how I did my Jamaica  research, and it was a bit tricky to learn that process for the 1st time; but once you find the various places to go, it was very productive.
Can I suggest you do a WARK sirname search in Family Search for Jamaica. It's free, and once you learn how to work through the various options etc, can be very productive. This is how I did my Jamaica research.
Thankyou, I will  give it a go as my mother always thought that her great grandfather was some kind of Baptist preacher and it turns out that in the 1881 census he was in the Royal Navy!
just visited the national archives and indeed he was in the Royal navy volunteering on 21 may 1859 when he was 22 years old, Now its even more of a mystery as how did the possible son of slaves end up in the RN???

My mother told me that her aunt told her that the family had the deeds to a plantation in Jamaica but as there were 14 children she and one of her sisters tore it up and never mentioned it to the rest of the family. I.m now thinking that maybe he was the son of a plantation owner as slavery was abolished  a few  years before he was born. The plot thickens!
Yes from Curaçao.

26 Answers

+14 votes
I do, I was born and raised in the US Virgin Islands as was my father and his mother's side of the family. My grandfather was born in Saint-Barthélemy and before that my family has lived in St. Kitts, St. Martin, Martinique, and St. Vincent. Both sides of my mother's family is from Dominica.
by Lynnette Dovy G2G6 Mach 2 (21.0k points)
+10 votes
Not  many but I just found out my husband's Uncle [[Wilson-69901|Robert Wilson]] married a woman from Puerto Rico. I have been in touch with a  first cousin who is their child. Apparently, he was a manager for the Mennen Company for Central America, living in Cuba in the 1930s and met his wife when a client asked him to dinner at his house and invited the neighbor. They got married and eventually moved to Brazil.
by Nancy Wilson G2G6 Mach 7 (77.4k points)
+8 votes
According to the 1851 England census, my 3X great grandmother, Mary Ann (who was living with her husband John Large in Finsbury's St Giles in the Fields parish in London in 1851), was born ca. 1818-19 in the British West Indies.
by Richard Hill G2G6 Mach 4 (42.0k points)
+11 votes
Yes both of my parents are from trinidad and tobago
by Jeanette Niles G2G Crew (530 points)
Hello Jeanette I am new here.

my mother is from Trinidad as well
+7 votes
I do not, but my husband does. He is from Dominica and his entire family is from Dominica. I have tried to do research online but while they have a great deal of information most of it is digitized as an image and not indexed. I’m going to have to sit myself down in an archive one of these days.
by Cheryl Miller G2G Crew (410 points)
+7 votes
My ancestors, I'm afraid, were slave owners in Montserrat, originally from Oxfordshire. The first to arrive was a C of E minister.  The ones who made the money came back to England and lived a rich life.  The younger sons - my lot - eventually ended up just as sea captains between Montserrat and Liverpool.  I haven't been able to find out if they did the triangular trade, and rather hope the absence of evidence is evidence of absence.  One of the aunts was "of colour", so somewhere along the line there was a racial mix, but it does not show in my DNA.
by Melanie Winterbotham G2G Crew (780 points)
It's nothing to be ashamed about if your ancestors owned slaves. You had no control over that. Moreover, some people whose ancestors who owned slaves, are descended from slaves as well - not necessarily the same slaves that they owned.

My ancestry includes some potentially "colorful" details, such as the hypothesis that I may be descended from a former pirate of the Caribbean, a possibility that remains unproven, but which cannot be ruled out. Records to confirm this are not available for obvious reasons. Good luck in your genealogy.
+7 votes
My paternal grandparents were born in the Bahamas. My Grandfather's profile is here:

My grandmother, Lillian Constance Wark Ceruti, descended in part from slaves brought to Jamaica and maybe elsewhere in the Caribbean. This is how I acquired my 8% West African ancestry. My known African ancestor is Mary Sawyer Wark, my great great grandmother on my paternal grandmother's side. However, this accounts for only 6.25% of my African ancestry. I have another African ancestor, more than likely on my father's side, that I have not discovered yet. He or she would be my 4x great grandparent, which would yield the additional 1.5625% needed to equal 8%. Of course, the percentage is only an estimate, but I would need to find an ancestor at that level.
by Marion Ceruti G2G6 Pilot (209k points)
+6 votes
Well sort of. MY Great Grandfather came from Barbados. I am proud of the work I did unraveling it but not what I found. Seems they were plantation owners, and yes they had slaves. I was able to trace it to family story of Samuel Greaves who went to Barbados in 1640. He became the reverend  of the church there I have found him and his wife Mary Brays marriage but I guess the church was destroyed a few times with hurricanes, so records were sadly lost.  My great grandfather moved away in 1886 (and many others as none of them live on the plantation now. The last one to inherit it died young with no heir so it was sold) The house is a ruin now from what I read - and what can be seen on Google.  But the land is being put to good use as a teaching place.  Its Hope Plantation in St Lucy Barbados. There is a tree planting going on on the land. I had to untangle a family mystery to figure it all out. My Grandfather had told stories of his family growing up in Boston, but he left home very young about age 14. He ended up living at Sea for a while then went on to join the cavalry to go after Poncho Via. I guess it was not what he signed up for (too much cruelty) so he left, he was about age 16. He ended up in California with a changed name and Identity. Met my Grandmother and they married.  He used to tell wild tales of his days at sea but I was born when he was older and much crankier. I don't have many good memories of him. But he ended up working for the movie studios as a painter as did his son and my older brother who recently retired. Now I have yet to prove the story he told of that side of the family coming from Royalty and hiding the Scottish king.

Marci Nadler
by Marcella Nadler G2G1 (1.5k points)
+7 votes
My mother is from Westmoreland, Jamaica. I've managed to trace her grandparents Adina Smith (a labourer, d. 1953) and Stephen Graham (b. 1892?) who worked in Panama. I believe her father, Caswell Brown (c. 1926-2013) and paternal grandfather James Brown were descended from Maroons. Their forefather was one of the signees of a treaty with the British. I'm beginning to make links with other families who are tracing their roots in the area: Grahams, Kerrs, Campbells but it's not easy to find concrete evidence.
by Tschaka Roussel-Milner G2G Crew (880 points)
+6 votes
My great great grandfather, Henry White Bamford, was born in Antigua in 1847, along with his brothers and mother. His father William Bamford was born in London, England in 1817, but most likely died in Antigua before 1871, when the family returned to England. Mother's maiden name not known, but possibly White. Believed to be planters and slavers. Very hard to find out much more.
by Vicki Houlbrooke G2G Crew (380 points)
+8 votes
My mother was from Puerto Rico. According to my DNA I am about 6% Taino and maybe 2% sub-Saharan African. So some slave ancestors back there somewhere.
by Bruce Stewart G2G Crew (440 points)
+6 votes
Born in the Caribbean nope. But between 1745 and 1746 my 8x great grandfather was banished from Scotland and he is on a ship to Jamaica or Barbados. His name was Alexander Fraser
by Erika Fraser G2G Crew (440 points)
That sounds like quite a story! Dinna fash if ye can't document the connection. 8+ generations is a long way back and he may have used an alias if he got into trouble with the law, ye ken?
+6 votes
Apparently a cousin of one of my 2 or 3x great grandfathers was mayor of Kingston Jamaica at some point. Captain OGILVIE, James I believe. I cannot, for the life of me, tie him into the tree anywhere. originally emigrated from Dundee area of Scotland.  Another sibling or cousin went to Grenada, where he is reputed to have fathered 26 children with several mothers.!
by Mary Davies G2G1 (1.2k points)
+6 votes
My husband's family is from the French side of St. Martin.  They immigrated to NY, NJ and CT in the early 1900s.
by Paula Picken G2G Crew (880 points)
+4 votes
My wife's 9th great-grandfather was Sir Nathaniel Johnson, governor of the Leeward Islands in the 1680's.  Her 8th great grandfather on another line, John Wilkins, moved from Wales to the Island of Nevis in the late 1660's.  

My own 9th great-grandfather, Joseph Todd, was a ship captain, who married one of his wives in Bermuda (if you count that as part of the Caribbean (technically, it isn't)) in 1667.
by Gilbert Nelson G2G6 Mach 1 (10.2k points)
+4 votes
My Bermudian aunt has. At least my uncle says she originates from St. Kitts and Nevis.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+3 votes
My mother's parents were born in Puerto Rico. Her father immigrated to the US in 1916 as a citizen of Spain. His fiance arrived in 1917 and was already a US citizen because of the Jones-Shafroth Act of 2 March 1917.

They were married in New York the day she arrived on 10 Sep 1917. My grandmother's family was from Salinas, PR and my grandfather was born in Adjuntas but was raised in Coamo. Some of their ancestors were from the Dominican Republic.

My DNA also shows I have Taino and African blood as well as european DNA from Spain.
by Joe Hay G2G6 Mach 1 (12.9k points)
+3 votes
My great grandmother was born at Kings Pen, Westmoreland in Jamaica. Her family were plantation owners and, sadly, slave owners. Her family connections were Briggs, Johnston and Moore. For a long time after she eventually emigrated to Australia via England we believed that all her siblings and her father had died in a hurricane not long after she was born; but in recent years we have discovered that her father, brother and one sister lived on in Jamaica long after she left. She said she had been raised by a missionary and his family after her mother died and we think that it might have been the Constantine family.
by Elizabeth Viney G2G6 Mach 4 (40.1k points)
+4 votes
Yes! St. Martin in the French West Indies. Lawrence and Bryan families that settled there possibly in the late 1700s are our brick wall. We do not know where they came from and when they settled in the islands. The Lawrence family info that was passed down, was that three brothers were trading from the Boston area and settled in the islands. Two went to St. Martin and one to St. Kitts. Thomas Lawrence married about 1800 to Jane Anne Bryan, and his son Thomas married about 1830 to Sarah Anne Bryan. Thomas and Sarah had many children in 1830 to 1840 in St. Martin.
by Jeanine Lawrence G2G1 (1.6k points)
+4 votes
Yes, my paternal Grandfather was born in Saint Pierre, Martinique, and both sides of his family go back to the first French settlers on the island. Many were merchants, but many others were planters and slave owners.
by Duane Poncy G2G6 (6.5k points)

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