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.
  • Also see General Register Office [United Kingdom] for general information about birth, marriage and death records for British nationals abroad.
  • 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.
There also appear to be some records for the Danish West Indies, now the Virgin Islands (U.S.), which are handwritten records in Danish, appearing on page 11 of this catalogue entry, available on home computers. Note however, although catalogued as if wholly for the West Indies, they appear to be included with other records, so it would be difficult to locate them unless you read Danish.
Three free databases were added to Findmypast 17 September 2021 which are Index records with links to images on the British Library Endangered Archives Project. Turks & Caicos Births & Baptisms, 1792-1934, Turks & Caicos Marriages, 1799-1940 and Turks & Caicos Deaths & Burials, 1804-1947. These are Anglican, Methodist and civil records (but no civil marriage records).
Findmypast database "Caribbean Rolls Of Honour WW1" located in Military, Armed Forces & Conflict/First World War, added c 16 Oct. 2020, with initial data relating to Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, with more data, for Bahamas, Barbados, St Kitts & Nevis and Bermuda added c 27 Nov. 2020. Source of data is not stated, but see External links below for a similarly named website.
Findmypast, in the category "Newspapers & Periodicals"/British newspapers includes newspapers classified by 'County' for Antigua, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, and Saint Kitts (as at 2021/02/20). (British Newspapers are available to individuals with a Pro subscription (previously called World subscription, or the top subscription) but not via library and community subscriptions. (Previously British newspapers were also available with the British subscription, but this no longer applies for new subscriptions.)) The same titles are also available on the pay website British Newspaper Archive, classified both by 'Region' and 'County' with the same headings.
  • Antigua
    • Antigua Observer (Details of this publication[5].) BNA page. Added Feb 5, 2021. Available years 1848, 1870-1903.
    • Sun (Antigua) (Details of this publication[5].) BNA page. Added Feb 12, 2021. Available for 1912, with 1911–19 planned.
  • Barbados
    • Barbados Agricultural Reporter (Details of this publication[6].) BNA page. Added Feb 2, 2021. Available for 1845, 1870-1886 with planned range 1845 and 1870–1922.
  • Belize
    • Colonial Guardian (Belize) (Details of this publication[7]). (Added 28 August 2020) Initial coverage is, earliest issue: 7 January 1882 and latest issue: 25 December 1897, with planned coverage to 1913. The same title is also available on the pay website British Newspaper Archive, with this link providing details. Belize was previously known as British Honduras, a Caribbean country located on the northeastern coast of Central America.
  • Dominica
    • Dominica Dial (Details of this publication[5].) BNA page. Added Feb 5, 2021, with Earliest issue: January 6, 1883 and Latest issue: July 5, 1890.
  • Jamaica
    • Royal Gazette of Jamaica or other titles added c 20 March 2020 with coverage 1779-1781, 1793-1794, 1809, 1811-1819, 1824-1828, 1834-1836, 1838-1840, with Earliest issue: May 1, 1779 and Latest issue: March 28, 1840.
The same titles are also available on the pay website British Newspaper Archive, with this link providing details.
Update 9 August 2021. Now available as “Free to View Pages” on both Findmypast and the otherwise pay site British Newspaper Archive. Pages are searchable. Details[3].
  • Budget (Jamaica) (Details of this publication[6].) BNA page Added Feb 2, 2021. Available years 1877-1883, 1886-1888, with planned coverage 1877-1888.
  • Morning Journal (Kingston) (Details of this publication[6].) BNA page. Added Feb 2, 2021. Available years 1838-1840, 1858, 1864-1875 with planned coverage 1838–75.
  • The American pay website NewspaperArchive.com includes the following titles
De Cordovas Advertising Sheet 03 May 1858
Jamaica Guardian 24 August 1868
Kingston Gleaner 13 September 1834, with editions to 1950 and beyond, (see details of issues available, (for Kingston Gleaner with links to other titles)).
Kingston Sunday Gleaner 13 September 1834, with editions to 1950 and beyond.
Previously these titles were also available on Findmypast, but were withdrawn c 2 August 2021, as the licence was not renewed.
  • St. Kitts
    • Saint Christopher Advertiser and Weekly Intelligencer (Details of this publication[6].) BNA page. Added Feb 2, 2021. Available years 1839-1840, 1855, 1869-1888, 1897-1909, with planned coverage 1839–1909.
    • St. Christopher Gazette (Details of this publication[6].) BNA page. Added Feb 2, 2021. Available years 1771, 1837, 1839-1840, 1848, 1871-1888, 1908-1909, with planned coverage 1771, 1837–1909.
    • St. Kitts Daily Express (Details of this publication[6].) BNA page. Added Feb 2, 2021. Available years 1884, 1886, with 1884–1914 planned.
It is possible to browse individual editions on BNA, in addition to searching. To browse the Findmypast editions, use the filters under "Narrow your search results" (left hand side of the webpage) "By Newspaper" and "By Date".
  • Ancestry Card Catalogue of all Record Databases (located as an option under the Search tab). Ancestry is a pay website. Use Search terms such as Caribbean, or individual island names such as Barbados, or Jamaica. Note some of the databases are FamilySearch data, see above (where it is free data).
Also included is the Ancestry database "Caribbean, English Settlers in Barbados, 1637-1800" (located in BMD) from a series of books published 1979-1984 by Joanne McRee Sanders using data from copied parochial registers in the Barbados Department of Archives. The book Barbados Records Baptisms 1637-1800 which is part of this Ancestry database is available online (free), see below.
Ancestry also includes databases from the books Scots in the West Indies, 1707-1857 by David Dobson 1998 (there was subsequently a Volume 2 published in 2006, which appears not to be included in the Ancestry database, which is located in "Immigration & Emigration") and The Original Scots Colonists of Early America. Caribbean Supplement 1611-1707 by David Dobson 1999 (located in "Dictionaries, Encyclopedias & Reference"). See Scotland for some background about the Scottish diaspora.
  • For further books by David Dobson available online, see Historical books online below.
Also see other book titles by David Dobson, not available online, under "Other records", below.
  • Kabristan Archives -Ireland -Ceylon -India Genealogy Includes a Search, with a partial transcription of records. Search for free, then pay for a full record. Includes one database relating to Jamaica “Moravian Graveyards India and Jamaica 1755-1971” located under India & Nepal. Moravian missionaries were the first large-scale Protestant missionary movement.
  • Online newspapers are available from free websites, pay websites and through library subscription websites and are mentioned below on this page. There are also many transcriptions from newspapers available.
  • Archives nationales d'outre-mer, ANOM French National Overseas Archives. French language website. Previously there was an English language version available, but generally this does not now seem available for the entire website, although there is the English language webpage Searches which contains a link to the Digitised Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths, in addition to a People and Families Name Database. For the former, select, then click on the Caribbean area Caraïbes showing online records from Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Saint-Barthélémy, Saint-Domingue, Saint-Martin, Sainte-Lucie. Then click on État civil for Civil records including Birth, Marriages and Deaths. If you can't see the record images, you may need to download the latest Java software. French Colonial Empires: Caribbean, Guyana general description. English language page, also contains details of the Departmental Archives for Guadeloupe, Guyane, and Martinique.
Ulysse, ANOM's searchable database of images, including maps from the colonial period (in French).
For more details about the ANOM website, and sources for French records generally, see French.

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.[8] 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] became part of Proquest, but current situation is unclear.
  • Books by David Dobson, who is also the author of books available online, see above and below. David Dobson FamilySearch Wiki.
    • Scots in Jamaica 1655-1855 published 2011. Available at the National Library of Scotland, catalogue entry; also available FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA catalogue entry. (Description[9]).
    The People of Jamaica, 1655-1855 published 2019. (Description[10]). Generally does not include Scots, who are covered in the earlier book.
    • People of the Leeward Islands : 1620-1860 published 2018. Available FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, catalogue entry. (Description [11])
    • The People of the Windward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curacao 1620-1860 published 2019. Google Books description. Available FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, catalogue entry. Stated to be a reprint of a 2010 book.[12] (Description[13])
    • The People of Barbados, 1625-1875 published 2020. (Description[14]) The Scots are covered in his earlier book, available online, refer above.
  • Indian Indentureship Collection. List of the General Registers of Indian Indentured Labourers 1845-1917 National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago.

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. The Creole Almanack for Trinidad and Tobago for the four years 1891-1894 is also available.

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.
Scroll to article (5th page) "Seventeenth Century Immigration to North America from Great Britain and Ireland" written by what is now Family Search 1976. lib.byu.edu. Includes the West Indies. Note, due to the date of this article, some sources may now be available online.
Really Useful Weblinks from London Family History website (a FamilySearch website) includes a category Caribbean. (Note, the information about London FSC is incorrect, as the Centre has closed).
  • Caribbean family history: An introduction to tracing your Caribbean ancestors. Caribbean Roots website. Includes information about Civil Registration, and addresses of Registry Offices. For example, births were registered from 1890 in Barbados, and 1880 in Jamaica.
  • CaribbeanGenWeb. This site is part of the WorldGenWeb Project and is the regional resource page for research in the Caribbean.
  • British Guiana Colonists an index to an on-going database of 18th and 19th century residents of the colonies of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequebo, of over 15900 individuals. Generally considered part of the British West Indies, although geographically located on the northern coast of South America. British Guiana Wikipedia
    • Guyana Colonial Newspapers Transcripts of early 19th century newspapers from the colonies that made up present day Guyana from microfilm from National Archive of the Netherlands.
The Guyana/ British Guiana Genealogical Society: Transcriptions Then click on "Vital Records (Births, Engagements, Marriages, Deaths)". sites.rootsweb.com. The transcriptions by Inge R Veecock and Thomas Kidman are also listed in the FamilySearch catalogue as available as two books and one CD-ROM respectively.
  • openarchives "search the genealogical data of Dutch and Belgian archives". Includes Slave registers from Curaçao and Suriname together with other records. openarch.nl . Website in English.
  • Rootsweb Message Boards: Carribean. Part of Ancestry. Search the Archives.
Search the Rootsweb Mailing Lists Archives for a specific List and then search, or Search All Rootsweb Mailing Lists including Barbados, Jamaica etc. The Lists closed March 2020, but the Archives remain searchable.
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
The Jamaica Gleaner, from 1834, a pay website, provided by NewspaperArchive. One day pass available.


Historical books online

  • See dLOC: Digital Library of the Caribbean above, with more details.
  • Calendar of State Papers, Colonial series . America and West Indies. Preserved by the Public Record Office [United Kingdom]. Most Archive.org.
1574-1660 1860, Volume 5, 1661-1668 1880 and Volume 7, 1669-1674 1889, both transcribed editions BHO, 1675-1676 and Addenda 1574-1674 1893 all edited by W Noel Sainsbury; 1677-1680 edited by W Noel Sainsbury and WJ Fortescue 1896: 1681-1685 reprint edition, first published 1898,1685-1688 1899, 1689-1692 1901, January 1693-14 May 1696 1908, 15 May 1696- 31 October 1697 1904, 27 October 1697-31 December 1698 1905, the latter all edited by W J Fortescue;
1699 and Addenda 1621-1698 1908, 1700 1910, 1701 1910, Jan.-Dec.1. 1702 1912, Dec. 1. 1702-1703 1913, 1704-1705 1916, 1706-1708, June 1916,June, 1708-1709 1922, 1710-June 1711 1924, July 1711-June 1712 1925, July 1712-July 1714 1926, August 1714-December 1715 1928. Jan. 1716-July 1717 1930, August 1717-Dec.1718 1930, January 1719 to February 1720 1933, March 1720-December 1721 1933, 1722-1723 1934, 1724-1725 1936, 1726-1727 1936, 1728-1729 1937, 1730 1937, 1731 1938, 1732 1939, 1733 1939, the latter all edited by Cecil Headlam;
1734-1735, Vol. XLI 1953, 1735-1736, Vol. XLII 1953; 1737, Vol. XLIII 1963, 1738, Vol. XLIV 1969, 1739, Vol.XLV 1994, the last three edited by K G Davies.
All editions, transcribed BHO, British History online. Searchable.
Journal of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations from April 1704 to February 1708-9 [Volume 1] 1920 Archive.org. 14 transcribed editions 1704-1782 BHO, British History online. Searchable
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.
  • The History of the Island of Antigua, one of the Leeward Caribbees in the West Indies, from the first settlement in 1635 to the present time by Vere Langford Oliver, published 1894-1899. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III Archive.org. Includes family pedigrees.
The Monumental Inscriptions in the churches and churchyards of the island of Barbados, British West Indies edited by Vere Langford Oliver 1915 Archive.org
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.
1801 Google Books. The New Jamaica Almanack, and Register…for the year of our Lord 1801, 2nd edition including "Jamaica" page 96 and "Jamaica Lists" page 106 Archive.org.
The New Jamaica Almanac, and Register for 1802 Archive.org.
The Royal Register and Jamaica Almanac, for the year 1810 including "Jamaica" page 134 and "Jamaica Lists" page 136. Archive.org
Jamaica Almanac for the year 1846 Ninth year of publication. Compiled by William Cathcart. Library of Congress loc.gov
Other sources: 1791, 1795 and 1798 editions are available on the library subscription website "Eighteenth century collections online". 1825 edition is believed to be on the Gale library subscription database "The Making of the Modern World". See Subscription websites-online newspapers, journals and directories.
The Creole Almanack for Trinidad and Tobago for the four years 1891-1894 is available on the library subscription website "Nineteenth century collections online"/Maps and Travel Literature. See Subscription websites-online newspapers, journals and directories, section Caribbean publications. Also available at the British Library.
Douglass & Aikman's Almanack and Register for the Island of Jamaica is available at the British Library for 1791 and 1793 UIN: BLL01001149175 and UIN: BLL01001149176 . Oxford University catalogue entry for 1785, 1789, 1792, 1794, 1796 and 1820, 1832, 1839, 1840, 1842 (Books not available online).
Blue Book. Island of Jamaica for 1870, 1871, 1873, 1907-1908, 1914-1915, 1916-1917, 1917-1918, 1919-1920, 1920, 1920 File 2, 1921, 1921 File 2, 1922, 1922 File 2, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1945. All Google Books.
Based on 1873 as an example: Each section is allocated a letter, and is separately numbered. For many sections, the two pages side by side viewing option needs to be selected. Contents; Section L commences with "Index to the Civil Establishment" followed by "Civil Establishment". Followed by "Section M Return of Officers who have given security for the due discharge of their duties". Followed by "Section N Pensions"
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
Slaves in Red Coats : the British West India Regiments, 1795-1815 by Roger Norman Buckley 1979. Archive.org Books to Borrow/Lending Library.
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
"West Indies" page 122, 1924 First Year, 2nd Edition HathiTrust; "West Indies…" page 173 1937 edition Google Books.
Also see Indian Army - Historical books online for the 15 volumes to 1940 in this series.


  1. Harding, Simon. Private Merchants & Photo's from India Rootsweb India Mailing List 19 December 2009, now archived. Scroll down.
  2. Balmer, Nick. Private Merchants & Photo's from India Rootsweb India Mailing List 19 December 2009, now archived.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Explore over one million historical newspaper pages for Free" 9 August 2021 Findmypast Blog. "Introducing Free to View Pages on the British Newspaper Archive" British Newspaper Archive Blog 9 August 2021. It is necessary however to register. Searching is generally better on BNA.
  4. Findmypast Friday February 22nd 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week" 15 February 2021. britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 "Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week" 8 February 2021. britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.
  7. "Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week" 1 September 2020. britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk.
  8. 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
  9. Scots in Jamaica 1655-1855 by David Dobson. genealogical.com
  10. The People of Jamaica, 1655-1855 by David Dobson. genealogical.com
  11. The People of the Leeward Islands, 1620-1860 by David Dobson. genealogical.com.
  12. "Researching family roots in the Caribbean? This book might help" by Kenneth H. Thomas Jr. ajc.com.
  13. The People of the Windward Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and Curacao, 1620-1860 by David Dobson. genealogical.com
  14. The People of Barbados, 1625-1875 by David Dobson. genealogical.com