Monday, 31 March 2014

Finding Charlotte Taylor

I began the hunt for Charlotte Taylor in the Slave Registers of Jamaica on Ancestry. There were two and a half pages of Charlotte Taylors! They were in all different parishes, all over the island. It was a very popular name for a slave and I wondered if the Honourable Simon Taylor had anything to do with this!1

The Slave Registers

Stokes Hall Today
Finding my Charlotte Taylor, the lady of James Sproule of Mellmount, looked at first as if it was going to be a daunting task. She did not appear on the Slave Registers of Stokes Hall, where James Sproule had worked, nor was she on his home plantation of Rosemount. As I was double checking these, I realised I was on the wrong track altogether.  

The Slave Registers of Jamaica in Ancestry begin with the year 1817. Charlotte was not a slave at this time. She had been a ‘free quadroon’ on the baptism record of her second child, William Taylor Sproule, in 1816. So none of these Charlotte Taylors were my Charlotte Taylor! Equally, it was also possible that Charlotte’s mother had been a free mulatto, in which case Charlotte would have been free when she was born – she may never have been a slave at any time.

In Familysearch

That left me with the Jamaican Parish Records on Familysearch. Again, there was a long list of Charlotte Taylors here, and I had so little to go on. I knew that Charlotte was a quadroon and that she had her first child in 1814. So I guessed that her age at that time would be anything from 14 to about 24. On a quick scan down the ‘Charlotte Taylors’ in Familysearch, there were surprisingly only two that were in the right age range.2 

One of these had been born in 1794, but her mother was a negro woman. My Charlotte’s mother would have been mulatto.  However, the other Charlotte Taylor fit perfectly!  She was one of 48 slaves baptised on the 17th March 1798. Charlotte was in a smaller group of four slaves that had been marked with the term ‘Quadroon’.

Charlotte Taylor Born 1795

This had to be her. I couldn’t believe that I had found her so easily!  Charlotte Taylor, the lady of James Sproule of Mellmount, had definitely been born as a slave in Jamaica. Her birth year was given as 1795, so Charlotte Taylor had been 19 at the birth of her first child, Margaret Madden Sproule. But it was when I saw where she was born that I got those prickly tingles you get when you know that a story is coming together.

Charlotte Taylor was born on Golden Grove, and Golden Grove was one of the homes of the Honourable Simon Taylor. 

But much more than this, Simon Taylor himself mentions this Charlotte Taylor, quadroon child of Golden Grove, in a document dated 1813. And I might even have a description of her!

* Episode 1 of this story - The Beginning of the BIG Story


1 Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1812-1834 Class: T71; Piece: 145
2 Jamaica Church of England Parish Register Transcripts, 1664-1880, Familysearch

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