JAMAICA MANUMISSION DEEDS FROM THE 1770S
SOURCE: Manumission Liber 1772–1774, Endangered Archives Programme, EAP148/3/1/7. Originals found in Jamaica Archive 1B/11/6.
SUMMARY: “Manumission” is the term used to describe the act of a master granting a slave his or her freedom. In Jamaica, manumission happened regularly, but very few slaves could ever hope to secure their freedom in this fashion. Thousands of manumission deeds are presently housed in the Jamaica Archive, in Spanish Town.
These Jamaican Manumission data come from Volume 11, which is available thanks to the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme. The originals are housed in the Jamaica Archives, in Spanish Town. I used these data, in conjunction with Edward Long’s 1772 discussion of the manumission process, to write a recently published article in the New West Indian Guide.
This Excel file includes all the manumission deeds in Volume I, but not every variable. For the sake of discernablity, I limited this file to the core information in the records. Contact me if you need more or have any comments.
DOWNLOAD DATA: File can be found here, in a MS Excel format.
PARISH LEVEL DATA ENUMERATING THE NUMBER OF CATTLE, SLAVES, AND SUGAR MILLS IN JAMAICA
CROP YEARS: ca. 1768
SOURCES: “An Estimate of the Number of Negroes and Cattle in Jamaica Calculated from the Poll Tax Roll arising from the Law Pass’d December 1768” British Library, Musgrave 8133C.F96; Edward Long, History of Jamaica vol. 2 (London, 1774).
SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: Edward Long is perhaps the best known West India spokesman-planter of late-eighteenth century. Historians have frequently worked with his multi-volume book, The History of Jamaica (1774), which is rich in data and description of the island and its individual parishes. His papers in the British Library contain the table that formed the basis of this parish-level dataset. His numbers have the “feel” of back-of-the-envelope reckoning, where he used Tax Roll data to estimate the numbers of cattle, slaves, and milling equipment. He explained that “In order to compute the Increase or Decrease of the Negroes… from one Period to another, we have no Data so simple, so intelligible & so certain as the Tax-Rolls.” Only “a certain small & limited number [of people], are exempted.” (British Library, Add Mss. 12431, f. 219). It appears that from these figures he estimated the proportion of slaves planting sugar as well as deduced estimates of the number of sugar hogsheads produced.
I have never published a formal analysis of these figures that I hand-transcribed while working on my dissertation in the mid-1990s. As far as I can tell, these data are fairly close to those numbers published in Long’s book (volume 2). It is interesting to note that his rough reckoning produces almost a perfect linear fit (and even better quadratic fit), as seen in the parish-level scatterplot showing muscovado output by the number of sugar-plantation slaves (note that the parish label function in SPSS is a little kooky… for example St Andrew should be on the grey dot to the left). The independent variable (number of slaves in each parish) explains approximately 97.7 percent of the variation in the dependent variable, sugar output, thus suggesting that Long simply used a rule-of-thumb in his estimation of parish level production. There is, however, the slightest of variation that is not explained by the number of slaves: The multivariate regression results, below, include a dichotomous term flagging the parishes located in the county of Cornwall. The coefficient on the sugar-plantation-slave term suggest a production capacity of 0.82 hogshead of sugar per slave, (1,410 lbs of sugar per slave assuming a Hhd.= 1720 lbs), ceteris paribus. Interestingly, Long must have assumed that the larger parishes of Cornwall county must have had a slight disadvantage due to their frontier status: controlling for the number of slaves in the parishes, the model predicts that simply being in Cornwall reduced the output by 718.5 lbs, holding the number of slaves constant:
These data are intriguing and there is more to be done with them, especially alongside a close study of Long’s History. I also refer you to Jack Greene, Settler Jamaica in the 1750s: A Social Portrait (Charlotte: University of Virginia Press, 2016).
DOWNLOAD DATA: The data is configured as a table within an excel file. There is also a downloadable SPSS file, with variable labels.
CARRIACOU, GRENADINES AGRICULTURAL CENSUSES
CROP YEARS: 1776 & 1790 (primarily cotton)
SOURCES: “State of Carriacou and the other Grenadine Islands ,” Special Collections and Western Mss. W. Ind. p. 4/2, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies, Rhodes House, Oxford; “Schedule of the Population & Produce of the Island of Carriacou, taken 1st of Sept 1790,” 101/31 ff. 103-4, Colonial Office, National Archives, Kew.
SUMMARY: These data were coded from original manuscripts and include the following variables, which are self-explanatory. Censuses for the eighteenth century British Caribbean are rare, and this unique source offers both inputs and production levels. Household-level census that includes names of slave owners and residents on the island. Unfortunately, the names of the slaves is not enumerated. For a description of both the records and a quantitative analysis of cotton production on this island, see David Beck Ryden, “One of the Finest and Most Fruitful Spots in America”: An Analysis of Eighteenth-Century Carriacou,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 43 (4), 539-570.
DOWNLOAD DATA: The data is in an SPSS format. The variable titles are self explanatory, but if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
ST ANDREW, JAMAICA, AGRICULTURAL CENSUS: COMING SOON!