Slave Names and Naming in Barbados, 1650-1830

1996 (J. S. Handler and J. Jacoby) “Slave Names and Naming in Barbados, 1650-1830.” William and Mary Quarterly 53: 685-728.

This article draws on a sample of Barbados slave names in order to examine the principles and significance of naming practices among North American and British Caribbean slaves in general and on Barbados plantations in particular. Analysis of plantation slave lists and other primary sources that record slave names, especially within the context of genealogical relations, provides insight into slave naming practices. These, in turn, can reveal the extent to which concepts of family, lineage, and kinship were retained beyond the Atlantic crossing and can also shed light on other domains of slave life, such as adjustment or resistance to enslavement, the nature of slaves’ kin networks, the perpetuation and modification of African practices, and creolization.

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