Migration from Barbados to the American Colonies

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Migration from Barbados to the American Colonies

Postby bimjim » Sat May 30, 2015 3:09 pm

Migration from Barbados to the American Colonies
By Bill Snipes, SFA 344

A few years ago, when I began researching my family, one of my first starting points was W. W. Sellers’ book, A History of Marion County, South Carolina (1902). The opening sentence of the section on the Snipes family (pages 528–536) is, “The first Snipes of this family came from England, some time before the Revolution …”

Later, I joined Snipes Family of America and was introduced to another book, Snipes Family of South Carolina and Connections with the Early Virginia Colony, Barbados and England, by Dr. James Fisher. This book showed, through documentation of Virginia and South Carolina records, that our family and many others actually came from England by way of the island of Barbados, which was a British colony then, just as the American colonies were. The first Snipe(s) family shown in the Barbados records, to my knowledge, was a daughter born to Robert Snipe, who was baptized at St Phillip’s Parish in Barbados in December 1649. This is referenced on page 2 of the 2nd edition of Dr. Fisher's book.

Why the English Immigrated to Barbados

At the time of the opening of Barbados to immigrants, the conditions in England were over-population, unemployment, high prices, and political upheaval caused by religious intolerance. The result was a great Civil War in England, which caused many Englishmen who favored the reigning sovereign, Charles I, and who found themselves on the losing side, to leave England and settle in the colony of Barbados. Labor was in great demand in Barbados and the climate favored the growing of many crops; chief among these were tobacco, cotton, and sugar. Of these, sugar was by far the most lucrative and drove the price down in England to the point where it became readily available to the ordinary family. Even though Barbados (166 square miles) is only one-third the size of present-day Marion County (489 square miles), at one time it was the richest of the crown colonies and was responsible for more exports to England than all of the American colonies combined.

The Reasons for Leaving Barbados

The reasons for leaving the rich, sunny, tropical island of Barbados were several. Mainly, the very rewarding sugar production was being taken over by other West Indian islands, such as Jamaica. Labor was becoming hard to find, the population was growing, land was becoming very expensive, and the climate resulted in many deaths from tropical diseases. Another good reason to move north was the weather. This description of a hurricane in 1780 illustrates the destruction that Barbados faced more than once.

    The 10th day of October in the year 1780 this island was visited with a dreadful hurricane which began to rage with great fury at noon and continued with great violence till four o'clock the next morning, the 11th; at eight o'clock at night St. Thomas's parsonage was demolished and the church where the Rec[to]r and his family sought shelter began to fall about two hours after, the chancel fell while the family were in church, and obliging them to quit it, the remaining part must have fallen soon after. St. Thomas's church the chapel, St. Michael's, St. George's, Christ Church, and St. Lucy's churches were totally destroyed, the other churches were severely injured except St. Peter's and St. Philip's.

    On the demolition of the parish church and chapel by the hurricane, Divine Service was constantly performed in the boiling house at the estate of Thomas Harper Esq. called Rock Hall. Congregations attended there and sermons were preached by Wm. Duke Rec[to]r and Hugh Austin curate of St. Thomas.

    Many lives were lost. The dead could not be brought to church to have the rites of sepulture performed but were buried in gardens and private lands.

There are records for Barbados that go back even before 1640 and are still available for research at the Barbados Historical Society. Also, many of these records have been reproduced in books, genealogical magazines and on research websites. The genealogical trail of many American families leads to Barbados, including that of a governor of South Carolina in the 1670's,
Sir John Yeamans.

What Were the Migration Options for the Barbadian Settlers?

In 1662, King Charles II granted a patent to eight Proprietors in the American colonies. The province was to be called Carolina. Captain William Hilton, of Barbados, explored the coast around the Cape Fear River in North Carolina and reported on the quality of the country. As a consequence of these reports, many citizens of Barbados united and sent out a second expedition under Captain Hilton to explore the coast of Carolina southward from Cape Fear. The expedition sailed from Spikes (Speights) Bay, Barbados, August 10, 1663, in the ship Adventure. This group, called the Corporation of the Barbados Adventurers, sought permission to purchase a thousand square miles of land from the Indians. Hilton's expedition explored the coast of what is now South Carolina from the Combahee River southward to Port Royal.

Not only was Hilton's expedition of great assistance in settling the province, but the publication of the narrative concerning the land induced hundreds of other people to settle in South Carolina. His name has been preserved in the name of Hilton Head and Hilton Head Island.

I have a copy of a CD, English Settlers in Barbados, 1637-1800, which is no longer in print. I compared the list of surnames on that CD with the names of families that Sellers discusses in A History of Marion County, and found that many are the same: Alford, Arnett, Atkinson, Brown, Butler, Campbell, Carmichael, Clark, Coleman, Collins, Crawford, Davis, Edwards, Evans, Ford, Fowler, Gibson, Gilchrist, Giles, Hamilton, Hayes, Hays, Henry, Hutchinson, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Kirton, Lane, Lewis, Manning, Martin, Miller, Monroe, Moody, Mullins, Nicholson, Norton, Owens, Page, Perritt, Philips, Richardson, Roberts, Rogers, Saunders, Scott, Shaw, Sinclair, Smith, Snipes, Spencer, Stafford, Stanley, Stevenson, Thompson, Wall, Watson, Whaley, White, Williamson, and Young.

Here are a few which had some family connection, but not as many as the others: Gregg, Grice, Galloway, Haselton, Huggins, Legett, McKenzie, Murfee, Nichols, Reaves, Seller, Sherwood, Tart, Wiggins, and Wilcox. In addition, there are a number of surnames whose spellings are not exactly the same as those in Marion County, but are almost certainly from the same families.

When these folks left Barbados for the American colonies, they traveled up the eastern coast to several destinations, from Maine to Florida. Members of my family settled in Maine, Virginia, and Charleston. Documentation uncovered during genealogical research provided ample evidence, if not absolute proof, of my family's migration pattern. And we weren't alone. At almost every step of their migration, I noticed many of the same family names from Barbados with which I was familiar in North and South Carolina.

There are a number of web pages and genealogical forums that have references and queries relating to Barbados.

One of the best I've found is http://genforum.genealogy.com/barbados/index.html#512. This page is still available for viewing but it is no longer possible to respond to the posted queries. You can use the search feature, and if the poster’s email address is still valid you may contact him or her directly.

At the time W. W. Sellers compiled his book on the history of Marion County, he did not have access to the more complete records of Carolina, Virginia, and Barbados. If he had, he might have named his book, The History of Marion County, and Connections with Virginia, Barbados, and England.

English Settlers in Barbados, 1637-1800, the CD mentioned above, was originally produced by The Genealogy Publishing Company and sold through Family Tree Maker. They still list the CD at http://www.genealogical.com/products/En ... /7022.html, and you may request to be put on a list for future re-issue of the CD. Their web page also lists many other available CDs related to Barbados.

The account of the 1780 hurricane is on the CD and is from St. Thomas, Barbados, parish marriage registers, 1780 (RL1/49) p. 209. A greatly enhanced version of this event can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hurricane_of_1780.

The Barbados Department of Archives in St. Michaels Parish can be reached at 246-425-5150; email archives@sunbeach.net

Fisher, James W., Snipes Family of South Carolina and Connections with the Early Virginia Colony, Barbados and England, 2nd ed. New Orleans, LA, 2004.
Greene, Jack P. "Colonial South Carolina and the Caribbean Connection", South Carolina Historical Magazine 88 (October 1987), pages 192 - 210.
Gregg, Alexander, History of the Old Cheraws, New York, 1867.
Lesser, Charles H., "Barbados", in The South Carolina Encyclopedia, edited by Walter Edgar (Columbia, Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2006), pages 47-48.
Sellers, W. W., A History of Marion County, South Carolina, Columbia, SC, 1902.


Ed. note: This article also appeared in the latest edition of "Pee Dee Queue" a Marion County, South Carolina genealogical newsletter.
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Re: Migration from Barbados to the American Colonies

Postby geolocke » Sun May 31, 2015 8:24 pm

Great Article! Thanks for sharing!

George F. Locke
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
Researching LOCK, LOCKE or OAKLEY from Barbados to Philadelphia before 1715
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:05 pm
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

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