Journal of the Bahamas Historical Society, Volume 15 (October 1993)
CONTINUITIES IN AFRICAN NAMING PRACTICES AMONG THE SLAVES
OF WADE'S GREEN PLANTATION, NORTH CAICOS
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.