BHS logo Welcome to the Bahamas Historical Society

Vol. 1/1979
Vol. 2/1980
Vol. 3/1981
Vol. 4/1982
Vol. 5/1983
Vol. 6/1984
Vol. 7/1985
Vol. 8/1986
Vol. 9/1987
Vol. 10/1988
Vol. 11/1989
Vol. 12/1990
Vol. 13/1991
Vol. 14/1992
Vol. 15/1993
Vol. 16/1994
Vol. 17/1995
Vol. 18/1996
Vol. 19/1997
Vol. 20/1998
Vol. 21/1999
Vol. 22/2000
Vol. 23/2001
Vol. 24/2002
Vol. 25/2003
Vol. 26/2004
Vol. 27/2005
Vol. 28/2006
Vol. 29/2007
Vol. 30/2008
Vol. 31/2009
Vol. 32/2010
Vol. 33/2011
Vol. 34/2012
Vol. 35/2013
Vol. 36/2014
Vol. 37/2015

News & Events
Research Aids
Show Your Support

Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society, Volume 15 (October 1993)

by Laurie A. Wilkie

The historical record often reveals less about the lives of slaves than historians would like. The information available is usually derived from slave lists, probate inventories or bills of sale. Slave lists often contain the names, ages, races, sex, and sometimes, the occupations of the slaves. Researchers have used the data from these lists to reconstruct population trends, mortality, birth rates and social structure.

Slave registers have also been used in the Caribbean (Armstrong 1990; Craton 1978; Decamp 1968) and the American South (Dillard 1976; Puckett 1937; Turner 1984) to study both the continuity and declining popularity of African naming practices. Armstrong (1990) and Craton (1978), both working on Jamaica, found that the proportion of Africa names in the slave populations of Drax Hall Plantation and Worthy Park Plantation decreased through time until they disappeared completely before Emancipation and were replaced by the increased occurrence of European surnames. African continuities in language structure (Cassidy and La Page 1967) are well known in the New World. Dillard's work in Nova Scotia (1971) and Saint Cruzan (1972a) has demonstrated present-day African continuities in grammatical structure and naming practices.

Given these many cases, it is surprising that continuity in African naming practices has not been demonstrated in Caribbean slave registers. This discrepancy may be due to researchers having focused only upon West African names rather than their naming patterns. Therefore, using the 1822-1835 slaves lists from Wade's Green plantation on North Caicos Island, this paper explores continuities and changes in West African-based naming patterns as the slave population adopted English. This paper discusses four types of names found on slave registers: Unaltered African Names; Anglicized African Names, Creolized Names and European Names. Each of these name types represent different naming patterns.

Wade's Green Plantation

Wade Stubbs was one of the 4,118 Loyalists who were compensated for lands and property lost during the American Revolutionary War by the English government (Kozy 1983:81). In compensation for his losses, Stubbs was granted 960 acres in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Stubbs founded his cotton plantation in 1789 on North Caicos. Stubbs was dead by 1822, when the first slave register lists him as deceased. After Wade Stubbs death, the plantation was left unsupervised. By this time, many of the plantations in the Turks and Caicos had been abandoned, the victims of weevil infestation, harsh hurricanes and soil exhaustion. Wade's Green plana-tion stayed in the ownership of the Stubbs1 family until 1902 when it was bought by the local government. The great house was refurbished and used as a court House and jail. Since emancipation, portions of the plantation have been farmed for subsistence crops by the local inhabitants.

The slave lists available for the plantation used for this study are 1822; 1826; 1828 and 1835;. Copies were obtained from the Public Record Office, Kew, England. The available records begin after Wade Stubb's death, but before his property was redistributed in 1826. After this date, the slaves on the plantation belonged to Henshall Stubbs.


If you are interested in the full text of the article, you may order this issue of our Journal for B$5.00 plus s&h by contacting the society.