West Indies

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Information on migration between East and West Indies.

There are many surnames common to both India and the West Indies, particularly Jamaica. "I wondered if anybody thought to look westwards when they hit a brick wall in India".[1]

A number of families who were active in India, had in previous generations also taken part in the development of the West Indies. Some of the most effective officers in India during the 1780's and 1790's had previously served in the West Indies. The reverse also applied. Planters from India moved to the West Indies to run plantations there.[2]

Online records

  • Also see External links and Historical books online, below.
  • FamilySearch, a free website, contains transcribed records relating to the Caribbean, and in addition many images. From the list of all Historical Record Collections, use the filters on the left hand side of the webpage to select "Caribbean and Central America". There may be additional databases found by Searching the Catalog. Alternatively, from the Records/ Search page, click on the map for the Caribbean/West Indies area, and select a country. Also see External records below for the FamilySearch Wiki page.
FamilySearch microfilms include Wills, 1756-1930 Jamaica. Supreme Court and records using keywords Jamaica. Registrar General, most of which seem to be available on home computers. There may be additional microfilms. See the Fibiwiki page FamilySearch Centres for information about microfilms and digitised microfilms.
Note, you must be signed in to FamilySearch to view the records.

Other records

  • The Society of Genealogists holds some records relating to the West Indies. Search the catalogue to see what is currently available. The holding at November 2012 is set out in the archived webpage Overseas: West Indies. Some of the sources are from Caribbeana - all of these volumes are available online, refer below. Also includes the book Tracing your West Indian ancestors: sources in the Public Record Office: PRO readers’ guide, no. 11 [by Guy Grannum, 1995, subsequently republished as Tracing your Caribbean ancestors : a National Archives guide 2012]
  • The British Library holds the book Lists from the San Fernando Gazette, Trinidad, West Indies, 1865-1896 by Tian Uddenberg & Karen Vaucrosson 2002 UIN: BLL01012465957 . This book is also held by the FamilySearch Family History Library, where the catalogue entry says "This book is a compilation of births, deaths, and marriage announcements, as well as news items, Burgess lists, land rate delinquencies, entrepreneurial activities, and other lists", and perhaps may become digitally available in the future.
  • The British Library holds the book Monuments of the Cathedral-Church and Parish of St. Catharine: being part I. of Church Notes and Monumental Inscriptions of Jamaica, in the year 1824 by John Roby, published Montego-Bay, Jamaica : A. Holmes, 1831. UIN: BLL01003126950 . Also available at Yale University Library where the book contains "Ms. notes and additions in text".
By the same author: The history of the parish of St. James, in Jamaica : with notes on the general history, genealogy, and monumental inscriptions of the island by John Roby. Published Kingston, Jamaica : Printed by R.J. De Cordova, 1849. Contains information to 1740.[4] Held by Yale University Library, bound in three parts, with "Ms. corrections of author in text". There are also references to microfiche of this book published "Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI, 2008. 2 microfiches ; 11 x 15 cm. (Genealogy and local history ; LH19183)". UMI [University Microfilms International] is now part of Proquest.

Also see

Information about the database Caribbean Newspapers 1718 - 1876, part of Readex World Newspapers Archive, and a database containing Blue Books from many Caribbean countries.

External links

FamilySearch Genealogy Research Groups, also called Family Search Community FamilySearch Wiki. Includes links to 'closed' Facebook groups (where you must be accepted by an Administrator) for the Caribbean and Jamaica. Note, to sign up to these groups you must be a Facebook member, and then may need to be signed in to FamilySearch, and then may need to agree to conditions set by FamilySearch Community, including access to your data.
Really Useful Weblinks from London FamilySearch Centre website includes a category Caribbean.
All Rootsweb Mailing Lists includes Barbados, Jamaica etc. Search the Archives.
These pages c 2008 are from the archived website “Empire’s Children”, a website connected with the 2007 Channel 4 television series of the same name. Note, some of the information may now be outdated. Many of the internal links have not been archived.
There is a "Resources" chapter in the book Empire’s Children: Trace Your Family History Across the World by Anton Gill 2007, available at the British Library UIN: BLL01013623894 . This book accompanied the television series Empire's Children.
from University of Florida Digital Collections


Historical books online

Vol. I 1910, Contents; Vol. II 1912, Contents; Vol. III 1914, Contents; Supplement to Vol.IV The Registers of St Thomas, Middle Island, St. Kitts 1915; Vol. V 1919, Contents; Vol. VI Commences page 41, no Contents or Index. All Archive.org.
All seven volumes of Caribbeana are available online at The University of Florida Digital Collections including Volume IV, Contents; and Volume VI, no Contents or Index. All volumes may be accessed from the two given volume links by clicking on "All Volumes". Print may be darker in these volumes compared with the editions on Archive.org, and therefore easier to read.
More monumental inscriptions : tombstones of the British West Indies by Vere Langford Oliver. Reprint of The Monumental Inscriptions of the British West Indies, collected and edited by V. L. Oliver, 1927. Catalogue entry with link to a FamilySearch Digital Book to read online or download. You need to be registered and sign in first, see Family Search. Direct link. Catalogue entry says "Inscriptions copied from cemeteries on the West Indian islands of Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Trinidad; on the Bahamas; and in the former Dutch colony of Demerara, now a county of Guyana". With an Index of Names at the back of the book.
  • "Barbadoes Parish Registers 1678-1679", page 419 The original lists of persons of quality 
emigrants; religious exiles; political rebels : serving men sold for a term of years; apprentices; children stolen; maidens pressed; and others who went from Great Britain to the American plantations, 1600-1700. With their ages, the localities where they formerly lived in the mother country, the names of the ships in which they embarked, and other interesting particulars. From mss. preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty's Public Record Office, England. 
Edited by John Camden Hotten. 1874 Archive.org
  • “Some Extracts relating to West Indian Families...” page 245, Miscellanea genealogica et heraldica and the British archivist, Volume V, Fifth Series 1923-1925. Archive.org. Only one page.
  • Monumental inscriptions of Jamaica compiled by Philip Wright 1966 FamilySearch Digital Library. Catalogue entry with link to a FamilySearch Digital Book to read online or download. You need to be registered and sign in first, see Family Search.
  • Genealogies of Barbados families : from Caribbeana and the Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society by James C Brandow. 1983. Archive.org Lending Library
  • The Jews of Jamaica: Tombstone Inscriptions, 1663-1880 Richard D. Barnett and Philip Wright c 1997. Digital Library of the Caribbean.
  • Collection: Jamaica Government Documents from National Library of Jamaica Digital Collection. Read online or download. Includes
    • Almanack and Register for the Island of Jamaica (or similar title) for 1779, 1782, 1783, 1784, 1785.
    • Blue Book. Island of Jamaica for years 1852, 1853, 1866 to 1906-1907 (broken range). "Contains statistical information about the island of Jamaica". As an example of the contents,
      • for the year 1906-1907, the Contents page is digital page 2. Each section is allocated a letter, and is separately numbered. The Civil Establishment (civil service employees) is section N and commences digital page 135 - note many of the following pages needed to be read two pages side by side (but it does not seem possible to select a two page option). Information includes employment title, date appointed and salary. There is also a following section "Officers who have given Security", section O digital page 201, and Pensions, section P digital page 232 (again, most/all pages for these two sections need to be read side by side). Total digital pages 582.
  • The Colonial Office List for ... Includes a section on each country, and the Colonial Office List at the end of each volume. Google Books, HathiTrust Digital Library and Archive.org.
1862: First publication; 1867, 1877; 1878; 1879 pdf from Oxford University Library, may be slow to open, 1879 Google Books edition should become freely available 2020; 1881; 1889; 1901; 1902; 1903; 1904; HathiTrust Digital Library editions to 1922 viewable in restricted areas such as North America: A and B
In addition, Colonial Office List, 1863 and Colonial Office List, 1870 are available in the findmypast (pay website) dataset "Britain, Directories & Almanacs" located in Newspapers, Directories & Social History/Directories & Almanacs.
FamilySearch has a catalogue entry for a series of microfiches of the Colonial Office List, (produced by Chadwyck-Healey, 1987), currently (2019/06) available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, with however the potential to be digitised in the next few years, and perhaps be more widely available, or at least searchable. The same microfiche series may also be available at some other libraries, or to a very limited extent at some other FamilySearch Centres.
Colonial Office List (to 1925) and the later title The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List are available at the British Library UIN: BLL01002841625 and UIN: BLL01007173533
  • Comments about "The registers of Persons Baptised etc Abroad: The West Indies" page 237 Registrum ecclesiae parochialis : the history of parish registers in England : also of the registers of Scotland, Ireland, the East and West Indies... by John Southerden Burn 2nd edition 1862 Archive.org. Refers to some early Baptisms and Burials from Barbados in the "State Paper Office", now The National Archives at Kew, but it is unknown whether these records are still available. See Other records above.
  • A descriptive account of the island of Jamaica: with remarks upon the cultivation of the sugar-cane, throughout the different seasons of the year, and chiefly considered in a picturesque point of view; also observations and reflections upon what would probably be the consequences of an abolition of the slave-trade, and of the emancipation of the slaves by William Beckford 1790. Volume I, Volume II Archive.org.
  • The history, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies by Bryan Edwards. First published 1793. 1806 volumes have additional title To which is added A general description of the Bahama islands by Daniel M'Kinnen
1806 edition in four volumes Vol I, Vol II, Vol III, Vol IV
1807 Fourth edition "with considerable additions", in three volumes Vol I, Vol II, Vol III. All Archive.org
Additional editions Archive.org
Studies in Jamaica History by Frank Cundall 1900 Archive.org.
Bibliographia jamaicensis; a list of Jamaica books and pamphlets, magazine articles, newspapers, and maps, most of which are in the library of the Institute of Jamaica by Frank Cundall 1902 Archive.org
Supplement to Bibliographia Jamaicensis by Frank Cundall 1908 Archive.org
Bibliography of the West Indies (excluding Jamaica) by Frank Cundall 1909 Archive.org
Jamaica Place-Names by Frank Cundall 1909 Archive.org
Historic Jamaica : With fifty-two illustrations by Frank Cundall 1915 Archive.org
Jamaica in 1922 : a handbook of information for intending settlers and visitors with some account of the colony's history by Frank Cundall 1922 Archive.org


  1. Harding, Simon. Private Merchants & Photo's from India Rootsweb India Mailing List 19 December 2009. Scroll down. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  2. Balmer, Nick. Private Merchants & Photo's from India Rootsweb India Mailing List 19 December 2009. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  3. Findmypast Friday February 22nd [2019]
  4. Page 336 Caribbeana : being miscellaneous papers relating to the history, genealogy, topography, and antiquities of the British West Indies by Vere Langford Oliver Volume I, 1910 Archive.org