The Turks & Caicos islands are a British Overseas Territory. The first British settlers are thought to have been those who came from Bermuda in the second half of the 17th century, bringing their Black African slaves to work the natural salt water lagoons, a process known as salt raking, and develop artificial salinas. Defeated British Loyalists arrived from America in the 1780s following the American War of Independence, again bringing with them where they could an enslaved workforce. They introduced the cotton plantations, as well as participating in the salt industry. The surnames of some of those Loyalists, such as James Misick, John McIntosh and Wade Stubbs, are now frequent among descendants of their slaves.
The records here are indexed from the British Library’s Endangered Archives Project, which imaged the archipelago’s surviving registers held at the Turks & Caicos National Museum. Many of these, as the name of the British Library project indicates, are in poor condition, having been damaged by damp and flooding. In some cases, the records are so damaged that only part of them could be indexed.
Notwithstanding that, this is a valuable resource and, as far as we know, the first time these records have ever been indexed and made available to the genealogy public. Each transcription links through to the source image at the Endangered Archives Project website. Note that sometimes records extend over two or more pages, so you may need to page forward to the next image to see the rest of the original record. Both our own transcriptions and the British Library’s digital image are made available without charge.
The registers indexed here include:
Anglican (St Thomas’s) composite register, 1799-1818
Anglican (St Thomas’s) composite register, 1799-1818 [different to the above]
Anglican (St Thomas’s) baptism register, 1822-1935
Anglican (St Thomas’s) baptism register, 1835-1922
Anglican (St John’s) baptism register, 1865-1908
Wesleyan Methodist baptism register, 1855-1920
Civil birth register, 1864-1897
Civil birth register, 1897-1934
As well as recording the births and baptisms of the white settlers, these registers have significant Black History interest. The earliest clearly Black baptisms include some where only the forename by which the subject was known is given – for example, Phebe or William. However, others of the same period note that the person baptised is a “Negro” or “Negro slave”. For the 1820s and 1830s, the registers give more detail and include a much higher percentage of slaves (including adult baptisms), and may give the name of the enslaver as well as of the parent(s). Note that at this date Black individuals were often baptised under and were taking the surname of the slave owner – for example, we see Kate Wynns, aged 2 years old, “slave belonging to Mr Thos Wynns”, baptised in January 1826. For a period of six years between the formal end of slavery in August 1834 and August 1840, some Black slaves were re-designated as “apprentices” but that term must not be understood in its normal sense. For example, we see 7-year-old Davy Stubbs, “apprenticed labourer to Henshall Stubbs” and the son of Rose, also an apprentice labourer to Henshall Stubbs, baptised in January 1835. For those with a keen interest in Black genealogies of the Turks & Caicos, or the British West Indies more generally, it is worth noting that there is a 50-page separate section for Black baptisms (with pages usually headed “Colour’d & Black, free & slaves” or similar) for the years 1825-1835 at the back of the register for St Thomas’s. Note that this is arranged in reverse chronological order, i.e. was filled in from the back of the volume towards its centre.
The later civil registers of birth, which begin in 1864, record all births across all the islands and cays, irrespective of race or religion. The images give more detail than the transcription, so you should always click through to check, for instance for a more precise location.
You may sometimes see two records during the civil registration era, where there happens to be a surviving church register for the right place at the right time.
Note that for some periods births appear to have been registered before baptism and without forenames being given. For this reason, if you do not get a positive result, try again with the surname and year but without the forename.
For much of the period, paternity does not appear to have been recognised and therefore many records give the mother but no named father.