Tracing Your Caribbean Ancestors

The West Indies, or Caribbean Islands, were colonized primarily by the British, Dutch, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and African (comprised of people from many different countries and cultures as represented predominately by slaves). Other ethnic groups common to the area include Danish, American, German, Lebanese, Chinese and East Indian migrants. There are, of course, many indigenous Amerindians. Like anywhere else in the colonized world, individuals and families have come and gone. Some stay and other migrate on over the years. The Caribbean, with parts of Central and South America, is unique in the lack of useful resources for genealogists seeking to better research their ancestors. Tracing Your Caribbean Ancestors, by Guy Grannum, helps fill this knowledge gap.

Grannum, a 20 year veteran of the British National Archives, declares, “this guide aims to aid research in the British Overseas Territories and former colonies of Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Christopher (St. Kitts), St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Tobago, Trinidad, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, together with Guyana (formerly British Guiana) and Belize (formerly British Honduras).” While small, these locations represent a significant population base over the centuries, ancestors to many today. Through this book, those with ancestral ties to these current and prior British Colonies will find carefully uncovered and documented resources for family history research.

This third edition describes sources available, including:

  • “births, marriages, and death registers and certificates
  • wills
  • land records and maps
  • service records for the army, navy, merchant navy and Royal Air Force
  • records concerning slaves and slave holders
  • migration records, including passengers lists to and from the Caribbean and naturalisations”

New information for this edition includes the coverage of DNA testing and analysis, along with updates and revisions to existing information.


Published by the [British] National Arvhive, Tracing Your Caribbean Ancestors is available from Family Roots Publishing; Price $27.39.








  • Overview
  • Further reading

1 First Steps

  1. Be prepared
  2. How do I start my research?
  3. Surnames
  4. The Internet
  5. Archives and libraries
  6. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  7. The National Archives (UK)
  8. Digitised sources
  9. Ancestral origins
  10. Further reading and useful websites

2 Records of the Colonial Office

  1. Original correspondence
  2. Entry books
  3. Acts
  4. Sessional papers
  5. Government gazettes
  6. Miscellanea
  7. Registers of correspondence
  8. Registers of out-letters
  9. Other records
  10. Further reading

3 Migration to the Caribbean

  1. Emigration: general records
  2. Indentured servants
  3. Transportation
  4. Slave trade
  5. American loyalists
  6. Liberated Africans
  7. Indentured labourers

4 Life Cycle Records

  1. Records of births, marriages and deaths
  2. Censuses and other listings
  3. Wills and grants of administration

5 Land and Property Records

  1. Land grants
  2. Maps and plans
  3. Plantation records
  4. Further reading

6 Military and Related Records

  1. Army
  2. Royal Navy
  3. Royal Marines
  4. Royal Air Force
  5. Merchant Navy

7 Slaves and Slave Holders

  1. Slave Registry
  2. Slave Compensation Commission
  3. Amelioration
  4. Manumissions (grants of freedom)j
  5. Acts on the status, condition and treatment of slaves
  6. Further readings

8 The Colonial Civil Servants

  1. Further reading

9 Migration from the West Indies

  1. Migration to the United States
  2. West Indian migration outside the United Kingdom

10 British West Indies Resources

  1. British West Indies, general
  2. Anguilla
  3. Antigua and Barbuda
  4. Bahamas
  5. Barbados
  6. Bay Islands
  7. Belize (formerly British Honduras)
  8. Bermuda
  9. British Virgin Islands
  10. Cayman Islands
  11. Dominica
  12. Federation of the West Indies
  13. Grenada
  14. Guyana (formerly British Guiana)
  15. Jamaica
  16. Leeward Islands
  17. Monserrat
  18. Nevis
  19. St Christopher (St Kitts)
  20. St Lucia
  21. St Vincent and the Grenadines
  22. Tobago
  23. Trinidad
  24. Turks and Caicos
  25. Windward Islands

11 Records of the Non-British West Indies

  1. Cuba
  2. Denmark
  3. Dominican Republic (formerly Santo Domingo)
  4. France
  5. Haiti (formerly Saint-Domingue)
  6. Honduras
  7. Netherlands
  8. Panama
  9. Spain
  10. Sweden
  11. United States

Useful addresses



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.