A free guide to tracing ancestors in the Caribbean island of Barbados has been published in FamilySearch Wiki. Many people who currently live in the United States and the United Kingdom have family ties to this former possession of the British Commonwealth. For centuries, Barbados was a stop along the infamous “triangular trade” which supplied sugar, slaves, and rum to the American colonies and Great Britain. Many European colonists lived for a time in Barbados before ultimately settling in places such as Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia in the 1600s and 1700s. In the twentieth century, many Bajans (as residents of Barbados are known) migrated back across the Atlantic to the British Isles and there is great interest there in tracing ancestry in the West Indies.
Barbados has many excellent genealogical records. Some records are stored on the island, while others are in London archives. Christ Church Parish (whose beach and church are pictured in the photographs) has registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials that begin in 1637. Both FamilySearch and Ancestry have digitized many Barbados church records. Several census-like records (including maps labelled with landowners) survive from the 1600s and 1700s and are available online. The rare book series Caribbeana, which carried many articles of interest to Barbados genealogists, such as “Administrations (P.C.C.) relating to West Indians (1630-1681),” has been digitized by the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC).
Dozens of Barbados genealogies are available online. Probate records, proved both on the island, and back in London and Edinburgh, are a valuable source for family history. Ancestry, FindMyPast, and The National Archives (UK) have been making these records available online. Ancestry has also digitized the valuable Slave Registers of Former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834, which serves as censuses of slaves just prior to emancipation, listed by name under their masters, on the island. Internet Archive has digitized books about Barbados cemeteries. Several types of sources that identify people who emigrated from Europe to Barbados are also available online. You will also find information about the two main genealogy stops on the island – the Barbados Department of Archives in Black Rock and The Library of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society in St. Michael on the Barbados Archives and Libraries page. The Library of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society is an excellent place to start searches and is easily accessible as a day excursion if the island falls on your cruise ship itinerary.
Barbados has many valuable genealogical records. Come and explore!