Barbados (with a total land area of 166 sq. miles) has always been English. From the first arrival of an English ship to the uninhabited island in 1625 (it was abandoned by the Caribs a century earlier), to independence in 1966, control never was relinquished to France, Spain, or anyone else. The first full settlement dates from the arrival of the William and John in 1627. Some settlers were small-scale farmers, some were younger sons of gentry or the nobility, some were indentured servants (mostly Scots, Irish, and Welsh, known as "red legs," from their sunburnt skin), or transported criminals to provide labor. The 200 or so wealthiest planter families were known as "high whites." Cavaliers captured in battle during the Civil War were sent there, joined later by Roundheads captured after Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685. The total Christian population in 1656 was about 25,000, consisting mostly of young men. Many of the white settlers moved on to the mainland American colonies (especially South Carolina, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), sugar replaced tobacco as the staple crop, and slaves from West Africa took over the labor sector.
There are eleven parishes, serving both religious & civil functions, the boundaries of which have remained unchanged since 1652. Each has its own parish church and graveyard, most of them still in use. Chapels of ease are scattered over the island.
The oldest parish church is the Cathedral of St. Michael's, in the capital of Bridgetown, dedicated in 1665; the oldest memorial dates from 1666. The original building was destroyed in a hurricane in 1780 and rebuilt. Some monuments from other parish churches on the island were moved here as a result of damage in other hurricanes.
Brandow, James C. Genealogies of Barbados Families (GPC, 1983).
Grannum, Guy. Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors: Sources in the Public Record Office (PRO Readers' Guide no. 11, 1995).
Handler, Jerome S. A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados History, 1627-1834 (Southern Illinois University Press, 1971). Supplement (John Carter Brown Library, 1991).
Hotten, J.C. Original Lists of Persons of Quality. . . . (orig. published, 1874)
Brandow, J.C. Omitted Chapters from Hotten's Original Lists, etc. (GPC, 1983).
Oliver, Vere Langford. Monumental Inscriptions in Barbados (npub, 1915).
Sanders, Joanne McRee. Barbados Records [7 vols.] (GPC, 1981-84).
Stanford, C. J. "Genealogical Sources in Barbados." The Genealogist's Magazine 17 (Mar 1974): 489-98.
Barbados ( or ) is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and up to in width, covering an area of . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres (62 mi) east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and north-east of Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados is outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt.
Barbados was visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown. It first appears on a Spanish map from 1511. The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. The first English ship, the Olive Blossom, arrived in Barbados in 1625. They took possession of it in the name of King James I. In 1627 the first permanent settlers arrived from England, and it became an English and later British colony.
In 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm, retaining Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State. It has a population of 277,821 people, mostly of African descent. Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be a part of the Caribbean, where it is ranked as a leading tourist destination. In 2011 Barbados ranked second in the Americas (after Canada) and 16th globally on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.
How places in Barbados are organized
Further information on historical place organization in Barbados