Search the earliest surviving Anglican baptisms for the parish of St George on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent.
The records usually provide the following information about the individuals baptised:
Date of baptism
Name of person baptised
Names of parent(s)
Depending upon the date and the individual record, the transcriptions may also give such information as:
Date of birth
Social status - whether free or enslaved
Occupation of father or mother
Residence (if not Kingstown)
Use Keyword Search to refine a search further, or to return a list of individuals who meet your criteria. For instance, you can search using “6th Regt” or “Canouan” or “mason” or “free” (without using any names if you like) and receive results that match these attributes of the parents.
St George’s is the Anglican parish in Kingstown, the capital of St Vincent and the Grenadines. It was always the most populous parish on St Vincent. In addition to the baptisms of children of parishioners, it seems possible that the incumbent of St George’s parish made periodic visits to the island of Bequia to baptise infants there, given the number of such baptisms and that these are clustered together on certain days.
The original register (which is composite, also containing marriages and burials) has the character of a certified copy, like a bishop’s transcript, faithfully made from the original parish register. It is in the collection of the Saint Vincent National Archives. The register is fragile and damaged, and some records are incomplete as a result and can be transcribed only in part.
It begins in 1765, a couple of years after St Vincent was ceded by the French to the British in 1763. Some of the earliest records relate to families with French names, although names recognisably of a British Isles origin quickly increase in number.
The stratified social hierarchy is clear from the language used in the entries. Elite men generally were honoured with the suffix Esquire, with the next tier of social class down being privileged with the prefix Mr. Those white settlers and their sons who were neither Esquire nor Mr were sometimes shown with an occupation (such as carpenter or mariner) but equally often without any further comment. The records in the register are of significant Black history interest. Firstly, there are plenty of records of adult slaves being baptised, usually giving the name of the slave-owner. Most slaves are shown without a surname. The surname of the slave-owner may be of value, as some – perhaps many – slaves locally took the surname of their former enslaver. It is for this reason that we have made the slave-owners’ surnames searchable.
There are also many records relating to the baptisms of children of both free and enslaved black and mixed race individuals. It is worth giving multiple examples of the kind of commonly seen expressions to give an indication of the language of the time and the various nuances implied in that language. In this first sample, the parents are not named:
“an infant slave of Mr Morgan”
“slave of D Campbell Esq”
“slave belonging to Carapan Estate”
“negro child belonging to Mr Warner”
“property of Josiah Durham”
“mulatto slave belonging to Dr Davidson”
“mulatto boy the property of Governor Morris”
The second set, below, relates to children of elite status white fathers and black or mixed race mothers:
“mulatto child of Mr William McPhunn by his slave Alice”
“mulatto child natural daughter of Mr Thomas Telfer & Pemba”
“coloured child of Drewry Ottley Esq & Ann Rose”
“free coloured child of Capt Durant & Amaryllis”
“mustee boy natural son of Mr Peter Deshon” [mixed race mother not named]
It is clear that many white men, both married and unmarried, had children by black or mixed race mothers. Some men had several such children by two or more women. The degree to which society and the Church accepted this locally is not entirely clear but it is so prevalent in the register that there must have been no great stigma.
Below are examples of children of mixed race parents:
“child of Penny Ash coloured woman” [father not named]
“free child of Ann Marshall coloured woman” [father not named]
“coloured child of Jeremiah Brown & Sukey his wife”
“daughter of Sarah Buchan & Charles Fox free mulattoes”
The word “natural” in the illustrative examples above means that the child was born illegitimately, according to the standards of the time and the Church. A majority of the baptised individuals in the baptism register are children of parents who were not married. For consistency, we have given the surname of the father (where shown) to the child. You can also search under mother’s last name, although please bear in mind that this is given for only a minority of the records.
Slavery was so rooted in this society that not only white settlers owned slaves. There are instances of free black and mixed-race individuals owning slaves, as in:
“slave belonging to Jane Bruce free mulatto”
“slave belonging to Sally Giscombe a free woman of colour”
“negro woman property of Mary Emba free negro”
These records also have military historical interest. Various army corps were stationed on St Vincent during the period in question, and you will find records relating to children of men serving in, for example, the 6th, 37th and 90th Regiments of Foot, the Royal Artillery, and the York Chasseurs or York Rangers (which were later disbanded in Quebec).