The Irish of Barbados (Photos)

The Irish in Barbados have a long and troubled history. Pictured above are Erlene Downie (left) and Betty Fenty, who is the great aunt of singer Rihanna. All photos by Sheena Joley.

Photos and Article by Sheena Jolley, Contributor
October / November 2015

The descendants of Irish people sold into slavery in the 1600s live in a close-knit community beset by poverty and ill health.


During the winter of 1636, a ship bearing a consignment of 61 men and women destined to be slaves on the plantations of Barbados slipped quietly out of Kinsale Harbor on Ireland’s rugged southern coast. By the time Captain Joseph West’s ship arrived in the Caribbean in January 1637, eight of the 61 had died. The remainder were sold, including ten to the governor of Barbados, for 450 pounds of sugar a piece. Captain West was instructed to return to London to sell the sugar and then proceed to Kinsale to procure another cargo of Irish slaves. That first small trickle soon became a human flood.

It was a lucrative business. An Irish white slave could be sold in Barbados for between £10 and £35.

In all, more than 50,000 Irish were transported from Ireland to Barbados (more were sent to other islands in the West Indies), many of them prisoners captured by Oliver Cromwell during the wars in Ireland and Scotland and following the Monmouth Rebellion. The slaves became known as Redlegs, almost certainly a reference to the sunburn they picked up in the hot tropical sun.

By the mid-1700s most were free, their places taken by Africans. However, minute books from the island show that no more than a fifth of those who were freed became farmers, owners, or artisans. The remainder formed a wretched, poor and isolated community. In 1689, the governor of Barbados, Colonel James Kendall, described the Redlegs as being “dominated over and used like dogs.” He suggested to the local assembly that the emancipated slaves be given two acres (0.8 hectares) of land, as was their due, but the assembly contemptuously turned down the request.

Today, the few hundred remaining Redlegs in Barbados, also known as the Baccra, a name they were given as they were only allowed to sit in the back row at church, stand out as anomalies in a predominantly black population, struggling for survival in a society that has no niche for them, looked down upon by both blacks and better-off whites.

Ann Banfield proudly shows me the photograph of her grand daughter's graduation. She is shown with her husband Herbert and their grand daughter who is currently studying for a Masters in law. Their grand daughter is the first to have gone to university from that community in Martins Bay on the wild east coast of Barbados where the Atlantic pounds the shore. Ann worked in Bridgetown for many years including 13 years for Cave Sheppard, a large department store in town.

Ann Banfield proudly shows me the photograph of her grand daughter’s graduation. She is shown with her husband Herbert and their grand daughter who is currently studying for a Masters in law. Their grand daughter is the first to have gone to university from that community in Martins Bay on the wild east coast of Barbados where the Atlantic pounds the shore. Ann worked in Bridgetown for many years including 13 years for Cave Sheppard, a large department store in town.

Making Contact

There is a strong sense of community among the Redlegs. “If I need to eat, I go next door, and if they need to eat, they come to me,” 86-year-old Eustace Norris, who spent 30 years working in a factory in England before returning to Barbados, told me. And they are an insular community.

Despite having lived in Barbados for a number of years, I had only glimpsed these conspicuously poor, bare-footed individuals hauling coconuts up the hill in the New Castle district of Saint John Parish on the east coast of Barbados.

In order to get to know them better, I spent time with them in 2000 and again in 2008 and 2014. They were initially suspicious of me, but the fact that I had worked in the area helped to break the ice. And as one of them exclaimed, “Ah, that makes you Bajan.”

The Redlegs have retained a racial pride and a degree of aloofness from their black neighbors, mostly marrying within their own community. They do not know much about Ireland except that some of their ancestors came from there. Though one man I met, Wilson Norris, is passionate about Irish music and has a collection of CDs, these people are poor and their main concentration is on survival, not the past.

Ill health, inadequate housing, little ownership of land to produce their own food, and a lack of job opportunities have locked the community into a poverty trap that has hardly improved in the last century. Poor diet and a lack of dental care have left most of the older generation with either bad teeth or no teeth at all, and young people who don’t realize that this is preventable. Illnesses and premature deaths caused by blood diseases such as haemophilia (probably as a result of inbreeding) and diabetes have had a devastating effect on the community.

Wilson Norris sorting eggs.

Wilson Norris sorting eggs.

When I first visited Erlene Downie in 2000, she had been living alone for 33 years, following the death of her husband from leukemia. Her home had neither electricity nor running water, which she had to carry from a standpipe. Once a week, she boiled some water on a fire outside so that she could wash. To earn money, she collected coconuts, splitting them with a pick-axe and supplying the husks to a local nursery for orchid cultivation.

In 2008, I found Erlene, then 78 years old, still smiling, but living in even worse conditions. She had moved onto a plot beside her daughter’s house, where she lived in a wooden shack, again without running water, proper sanitation, or electricity. To make matters worse, she was sharing the tiny space with a nephew and her youngest son, who is a haemophiliac.

In 2000, I visited 78-year-old bachelor Chris Watson, who spent his whole life as a fisherman. The tropical sun had taken its toll on his fair skin, and his face was half destroyed by skin cancer left untreated for too long. Although he was living in appalling conditions, lying on a dirty mattress in a room bare of any other furniture, his wooden house was perched high on a hill with a breath-taking view of the wild Atlantic coast. I learned that Chris died soon after my visit.

I also spent time with Wilson and Louise Yearwood in 2000. They were living comfortably in a small, government-supplied wooden house. However, Wilson was unable to work as a result of operations for an ulcerated stomach and a hernia, and there was little money for basic necessities. I was glad to see them both again in 2008, but it was a great shock to discover that a house built for two was now housing their daughter, her boyfriend, and three small children. The young family shared the front room with a section partitioned for an adult bed. Wilson and Louise now used the kitchen as their main room with a section partitioned off for their bed. The toilet and very basic shower facility were in corrugated sheds in the back yard. An outside sink was used for washing clothes.

Erlene outsider her present home.

Erlene outsider her present home.

Returning With Music

In December 2014, I arrived in Barbados hoping that some had found a way out of poverty since my previous visits. People had grown older and the two amputees suffering from diabetes that I had photographed had died. Children had grown up and more children had been born. Eric Bailey had saved enough money from his previous job working on the roads to buy his own fishing boat. His brother Terence works in construction and has also built up a pack of Akita dogs through his own breeding plan. Each dog is vaccinated and in beautiful condition, but he says he cannot command the going price for them because of where he lives.

Erlene Downie is now 84 years old. She lives in a small wooden structure next to the homes of two of her daughters Ann and Hazel. Ann, who worked in Bridgetown for many years, including 13 years for Cave Sheppard, a large department store in town, proudly showed me a photograph of her granddaughter’s graduation – the first from the community to go to university, she is now studying for her master’s in law.

Ann’s husband Herbert is of mixed race, and of late there has been much more integration with the black population and there are many more mixed-race children. As attitudes towards matters of color, race, and class begin to change, those who don’t join the white middle class via better educational and job opportunities will, via mixed marriages, become absorbed into the black majority.

Eric Bailey saved enough money from his previous job working on the roads to buy his own fishing boat. He said he was slowing getting to do what he really wanted. When I first photographed him in 2000 he wanted to be a carpenter. He lives in his parents home along with his brother, 2 sisters and 6 children.

Eric Bailey saved enough money from his previous job working on the roads to buy his own fishing boat. He said he was slowing getting to do what he really wanted. When I first photographed him in 2000 he wanted to be a carpenter. He lives in his parents home along with his brother, 2 sisters and 6 children.

There was little change in circumstances from previous visits, but I was still welcomed with warm smiles and generous hugs. Though they liked my photographs, and I felt privileged that they allowed me in to their homes, I wanted to do more for these people I have come to know and respect. The opportunity came when I met musician Willie Kerr, an old friend, who for many years played with the very successful Merrymen band. Willie, who now lives and works in Barbados, helps to raise funds for disadvantaged and homeless in Bridgetown through The Love Day Project, an organization founded five years ago by musician Terry “Mexican” Arthur, a member of the band Square! (The exclamation point is part of the band’s name.)

Oriel Farnum and grandson Daniel.

Oriel Farnum and grandson Daniel.

Before and during Christmas that year, volunteers from Love Day set up tables, chairs, and food in Queens Park in Bridgetown and offered people breakfast, new clothes, haircuts, blood pressure checks, diabetes checks, and AIDS checks.

I suggested to Willie that they do something similar for the Irish descendants on the other side of the island. A plan was made and Willie, Terry, and fellow musician Lawrence Lorenzo Gittens duly turned up in St. Martin’s Bay armed with musical instruments, hampers, and Christmas gifts.

It was an important gesture that showed respect and appreciation for a forgotten people, and I was glad to have been able to share their story with others on the island, and elsewhere, and bring them back in the fold of the Irish diaspora.

Erlene Downie being helped back to her own house by daughters Hazel (on left) and Ann (on right) and serenaded by Willie Kerr of The Merrymen band so well known in Barbados for years. Ann is holding the hamper of food and Christmas present given to Erlene on Love Day by Terry Arthur. Terry started the Love Day charity 5 years ago visiting vagrants, homeless and sick but this is their first visit to the "poor white" community on the east coast.

Erlene Downie being helped back to her own house by daughters Hazel (on left) and Ann (on right) and serenaded by Willie Kerr of The Merrymen band so well known in Barbados for years. Ann is holding the hamper of food and Christmas present given to Erlene on Love Day by Terry Arthur. Terry started the Love Day charity 5 years ago visiting vagrants, homeless and sick but this is their first visit to the “poor white” community on the east coast.

One family all living in one small chattel house. From left Britney, Brent, their mother Carol, her mother and father Louise and Wilson Yearwood. The house is divided into a series of very small rooms and the shower and toilet are outside hidden behind the corrugated iron fencing.

One family all living in one small chattel house. From left Britney, Brent, their mother Carol, her mother and father Louise and Wilson Yearwood. The house is divided into a series of very small rooms and the shower and toilet are outside hidden behind the corrugated iron fencing.

Danny is Mona Bailey's brother and he lives in the house next to her and her large family. He is related to the singer Rianna whose immediate family originated from the same district.

Danny is Mona Bailey’s brother and he lives in the house next to her and her large family. He is related to the singer Rihanna whose immediate family originated from the same district.

Erlene Downie and Betty Fenty, who is the great aunt of singer Rihanna.

Erlene Downie and Betty Fenty, who is the great aunt of singer Rihanna.

Erlene's sister Joyce.

Erlene’s sister Joyce.

George Highland Hickson with his breadfruit tree.

George Highland Hickson with his breadfruit tree.

From left, Herbert and Ann Banfield, an American friend and grandchildren.

From left, Herbert and Ann Banfield, an American friend and grandchildren.

Brother and sister Monique and Terence Bailey enjoy a game of dominoes outside their home which they share with their parents, another brother and sister and 6 children.

Brother and sister Monique and Terence Bailey enjoy a game of dominoes outside their home which they share with their parents, another brother and sister and 6 children.

Village Gossip: Two of Erlene Downie's sisters stop for a chat.

Village Gossip: Two of Erlene Downie’s sisters stop for a chat.

To learn more about the Irish in Barbados read Emmett O’Connell’s To Hell or Barbados.

Sheena Jolley is one of Ireland’s celebrated wildlife photographers. In 2013 she was IPPA Winner Best Wildlife Portfolio. In 2009 and 2015 she was a finalist in the BBC Wildlife photographer of the Year Competition. She has had many solo exhibitions of her work but now concentrates on exhibiting in her own gallery in Schull, County Cork, as well as through her website. For more of Sheena Jolley’s work, visit www.sheenajolleyphotography.com.

270 Responses to “The Irish of Barbados (Photos)”

  1. Sue Barker says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I know a few of the people mentioned as I live in St Joseph. These people are very resilient no matter what life throws at them. I really do admire them and will continue to marvel at their resourcefulness. They may not have land or money but they are people with big hearts and have included me on a number of occasions as if I was one of them

    • My Husband is also related to Rihana as his Uncle is a Fenty too.

      • Irishgirl says:

        Why doesn’t Rihanna help them? What kind of person, who has all the money, doesn’t help her people?

        • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

          Rhianna’s beauty is an example of what we have in Barbados when this melting pot of races are “stirred”. Her mother is from Guyana and probably has some Scottish, Amerindian and African blood. The Fenty name may have survived but there are Fentys that are quite dark skinned and as distant in family connection to Rhianna as anyone can be. She shares her wealth with Barbadians at ALL levels and complexions with the contributions she makes to health care in the island. Why on earth should she feel any more responsible for our Irish homesteading ancestors especially?

          • lina richi says:

            The woman in the first photo, Betty Fenty, is identified (in this well-researched w/author-photographer repeat visiting over a decade) article as Rihanna’s great aunt. This means Betty is the sister of Rihanna’s grandmother- that hardly qualifies as a distant ancestor. You may think it’s wonderful that Rihanna helps healthcare on Barbados (I do, too, actually), but it is quite appalling that she leaves her granny’s sister in these conditions- it would be a simple matter to improve her house w/indoor plumbing and running water and get her some shoes. A few thousand dollars would mean the world to this woman- and would mean nothing to Rihanna- she wouldn’t even notice the debit in her checking account.

          • Dick Bacchus says:

            Are you related to Eric and Liz Farnum?

        • Joan says:

          I totally agree! Maybe someone could send her the article.

          • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

            Rhianna’s ancestry is as much African as it is European – and perhaps only a small part of her racial origin might be Irish. She does not consider herself Irish, or Scottish or Dutch or Spanish or West African. The Caribbean is a melting pot of all of these peoples – Rhianna does not think of herself as Irish any more than an English woman would think of herself as Celtic or Gaelic or Norman or Anglo Saxon and feel responsible for the many atrocities of conquest, slavery, and forced miscegenation between these peoples. Rhianna’s only true identity is Barbadian, and she has contributed to many developmental projects for ALL Barbadians. The term “poor white” in Barbados is an unfortunate carryover from an age of predominant African slavery when it was used simply to distinguish between people in similar conditions. No exceptional suffering or insult is implied.

            “Poor, pious, peaceful and polite” – that’s what Barbadians of every stripe might typically chirp in response to the interrogatory “how are you” !!!

            Come visit us sometime.

          • People like this Rihanna person have ruined the morals and culture of countless Cauccasians.

          • Lee says:

            It’s fair Reparation for 300 of Caribbean slavery don’t you think?

          • Alison Gray-Thomson says:


            I like your answer the very BEST. My maternal ancestry is Caribbean.

            Going back centuries , some relations have traced origins of peoples sailing from Africa , Scandanavia and parts of the United Kingdom


            My mother’s Caribbean immediate family identify as either Barbadian , Grenadian or Trinidadian.

            In the words of a first cousin , now a grandmother , having achieved her post secondary education , married life and children in USA , ” We never saw a colour coming when I was growing up ” in her native home.

            This definately a value that differentiates the Caribbean from the USA or Canada.

        • Nag says:

          Rihanna is always helping by keeping her name up high and supporting Barbados. Our community is currently getting better and we are helping each other learn and grow. Rihanna always represents Barbados and is one of my role models. This she is helping everyone without trying and without knowing.

        • anynonynony says:

          Are you serious? They are from a first-world nation and they are white, why doesn’t Ireland’s government help them? Ireland KNOWS those people are there.

          • In response to someone suggesting that Ireland help these people it should be pointed out that firstly these very proud group of people do not consider themselves Irish, they are a mixture of Irish Scots English and African , secondly the vast majority of them were captured and forced by The British Government to work as indentured chattels against their will hundreds of years ago at this stage it is very hard to pin the responsibility on any one country at and in truth if The British Government were held accountable for all the horrendous acts of cruelty through out history the British Government would be broke, it is an impossible task, not that it is the fault of any present day British person and no blame should be put upon them but The British Empire historically was an empire guilty of attrosaties of the worst kind against their fellow human, including their own poor people but in particular the Irish people know your history folks! I wish this community all the very best they may be very very proud of their ancestors and stand tall knowing that through all the inhumane cruelty the fact that this community survived shows the strength of the human spirit

  2. anita winter says:

    I truly loved reading this story. Next March will be my 30th year vacationing on the island. I know that area of the island but not as well as the south and west side. Next year though it will be different that’s for sure.

  3. Russell Byer says:

    This is a really interesting piece of history that I certainly never knew of. My fathers family are from Barbados and I have family members who still live there and have visited the country before, but no one has ever mentioned this very interesting past to me. The only mention was that there were lighter skinned people up there, but no explanation was given and I just assumed that it was black and white people mixing.

    I would certainly be interested and knowing more about this and will share this this post to ensure that others are alerted to their plight. I am quite shocked that the Irish government / people does not do more to assist and support this group, but I assume that they either do not know or that they have no interest.

  4. June Young says:

    So glad this subject has been researched.Thankyou.My friend lives on Anguilla and has Irish background…..as have many Anguilla n’s. The facts re:the enslavement of Irish are not widely known, but there is a definite link with people from Caribbean and the Irish, even now there’s a ‘kin’ feeling ..

  5. Sherice says:

    Really good to read about these people. I am from Bequia (an island an hundred miles West of Barbados) and am a decendant of some of these red legs who left Barbados perhaps in the late 1800s/early 1900s and set up home on Bequa. I am facinated by the red leg history and that you so much for writing and documenting their story.

    • Lloyd Lewzey says:

      Very interesting. I’ve had a few beers so work with me. Im a pink geezer from NE London. E17 N17 E10. My dad worked with lots of West Indian blokes and we became friends with lots of families from Jamaica Barbados and St Lucia. He was a star my Dad and so was his mate Wes.

  6. Marcia Gooding says:

    We should not forget the history of our the people who formed this island!
    Great article,

  7. Angela Simpson says:

    Sheena, you have done a wonderful deed of bringing to all of us the plight and conditions of these forgotten people.

  8. Giles Farrell says:

    A large Irish community was also present in Montserrat. The Irish slaves sent to Antigua were all killed off prior to the importation of slaves from the African continent.

    • jedi riordan says:

      that’s simply untrue

      • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

        They were worked to death or forced to interbreed with African slaves or their very masters so as to “lighten” the complexion of the enslaved workers. Any pure caucasians on Montserrat today are not descendants of the originally transplanted Irish Catholics . . . . their ancestors went there as free indentured workers from England, and married among themselves to keep their purity. Don’t forget that the Irish did not speak a language that even resembled English !! All traces of the Irish culture of that ethnic cleansing era (by the mid 17th Century) have been completely extinguished.

        • M Gormley says:

          Don’t talk Rubbish !!

          • Sam McHugh says:

            Lee , cannot agree with your line on Irush culture being completely erradicated as they still celebrate St Patricks day in Monserrat every 17th March It also commemorates tge date if their uprising against the then naunly Irish landlords who they knew would be celebrating that day. Unforunately there was an informer, a common occurrance. in Irish history, and the rising was crushed. The locals also speak with a patois that still carries traces of Irish accents. Saw a fascinating documentary about the Redlegs from the early 80s and a local “redleg” was interviewed and said the locals would not give them jobs ” just cause we white” . !

        • Amy says:

          Hi Lee,

          Do you know any of the history of a Richard John Farnum/Farnham born about 1835? He was associated with the Hope Plantation and apparently lived at Prospect Bay House at the time of his second marriage to Christian Layne.

          • Kristi Davis says:

            Any one know if any Laynes that were in Barbadoes amd migrated to Virginia?

        • Amy says:

          If you have any information on the Farnums I would be very appreciative, my contact address is amy and ana @ gmail . com

          • Terri says:

            Hi there,
            I have just sent you an email as I am also looking at the Farnum family tree in Barbados. My distant grandfather was Richard William Farnum of Barbados. I am trying to identify his mother and father as well as the first Farnum(s) who emigrated to Barbados. Thanks in advance!

        • M.B Lewis says:

          You are to totally clueless. Irish were not slaves in Barbados nor were they forced to breed with blacks. You are just a racist trying to justify the enslavement of blacks in the Americas.

          • KA Fleury says:

            There’s a skip in your logic, M.B. Just exactly HOW does the enslavement of Irish “justify” the enslavement of blacks? It doesn’t! It was wrong to enslave the Irish, and it was wrong to enslave the Africans, period. The terms under which the Irish Catholics were forcibly sent to Barbados and other colonies in the New World can be described only as slavery, as they were not free to seek independence from their masters. Indentured servants were free to do so. After the African slave trade ramped up, the Irish slaves were freed, and there is record of this in court documents. The indentured Irish were mostly Protestant, and had skills that were needed in the Colonies, and there are records showing that the terms under which they were indentured were not a form of enslavement. But well note the distinction between the Irish immigrants: Catholics were enslaved, Protestants were not. And nothing in these facts does anything to justify the enslavement of Africans — it was an evil practice, no matter who was or is enslaved.

        • M.B Lewis says:

          The Irish in Barbados were never slaves, they were indentured and after a period of of 7 years were free to do what ever they wished…like leave. They were not not forced to interbreed with blanks. It seems L. Farnum- Badley has a strange agenda ; trying to justify the hereditary slavery of blacks in the America’s.
          I too am a descendant of the Irish, Welsh and Scotts that arrived in Barb a f2f os

          • “indentured”,,,, is that a form of time restricted lease? When a human being is taken from their home country, then “sold” to another human being, no matter how long for, that is slavery.

          • bimjim says:

            You said, “The Irish in Barbados were never slaves, they were indentured and after a period of of 7 years were free to do what ever they wished… like leave.”

            Not true. Most, if not all, of those Irish sent to Barbados were collected from the battlefields as prisoners of war, at a time when England was somewhat lawless (Oliver Cromwell was Regent in place of a teenage King) and England was sending convicts abroad (such as to Australia) to get them out of the way. Initially they were kept in rotting ships along the rivers but with the prisons full expulsion seemed to be the only option.

            Being indentured was itself a form of slavery. You were contracted to another person or company for a period during which you were required to do everything they demanded.

            Whatever our beliefs are, it is not possible to verify or confirm some of these facts. We do not have time machines to see for ourselves, and in a day when few people could read or write there is almost no documenting of life in those days.

            So stop arguing for “facts” you can never prove, instead give that time and energy to uncovering documents which shed some *factual* light on what you are arguing for.

          • Kaman says:

            That is not true the Irish the Scottish the European prisoners were the first slaves in the America. If you knew anything there is not much different from slaves and indentured workers. The caucasians push this whole narrative that the negroes were slaves and the whites, chinese & Indians were indentured workers to make the negroes lower than the other class of people. The first slaves are mixed into the inhabitant which are the negroes in the America. That is why most negroes on the island has Caucasian Europeans in their family. The slaves were promised land and freedom. Until they flip flopped the history enslaving the inhabitants and shipping them to other islands in the americas as slaves and stealing their land. Keep in mind i am not saying that Caucasians weren’t considered indentured workers. i am stating the first slaves to the Americas were caucasians. These stories are in older books until they started changing the Narrative in the early 1700’s. Started claiming the negroes from the Americas were Africans. Which is a complete lie!!!!!! We are not Africans!!!!!

          • Amanda L Kiser says:

            The Irish were sold cheaper than African slaves at one point as well and were forced to perform deadlier jobs because of this. The Brits had a saying, “a dead Irish is equal to a dead dog” and the Brits hated the Irish because of their so called “inferior ethnicity.” I would also read about the Slavs who suffered during the Barbary slave trade as well. The English word “slave” comes from the word Slav/Sclave/Slavic and they too suffered tremendously under slavery. Many people forget or are not taught that Europeans too were enslaved by Ottoman Turks because they feel it takes from African history of slavery which it not true. It’s not a competition of who suffered the most. It’s just history and the TRUTH.

        • Alison Gray-Thomson says:

          Dear Mr. Lee-Farnum-Bradley,

          You make the most sense out of all the responses I read on this forum. Bless you. My mother’s people are from the Caribbean having been persecuted for being unique , they keep to themselves. Yet we all keep in contact and try to have reunions at least once every 10 years. We are a scattered people with Celtic surnames. To an outsider we all look different but to many of us we quickly identify and often point out similarites. This life is not about dwelling in the past. This life is about celebrating our similarites and the differences that brought us all together. My mother’s maiden name is Banfield.

    • jedi riordan says:

      at least they didnt go to America. the irish in america are a disgrace!

      • Wiliam says:

        Hello Jedi, interesting comment. Would you please explain. Cheers, Bill

      • O'Neill says:

        Yes Jedi please do explain

        • Clarke says:

          Interesting comments from very different perspectives.
          My fathers family has been traced in B’dos for a few hundred year. My Grandfather died on a plantation when my father was 4. He was terribly sick, but not allowed to go home. My widowed Grandmother (Nee Gill) and 4 children relied on the Church and charity to survive. No running water or toilet in the tiny home. Great Granny was a McConney. Anything family history I have read or learned from relatives is about Indentured or “White slave” as they are nick-named.

          • Kelly says:

            I saw your comment and I have been trying to get info regarding the McConney family regarding my great grandfather Frank Gilliland.
            Through deductive research I think his mother was Emma McConney (barbados) Are you familiar with that line? I don’t have connections or much to go on because he left the family when my grandmother was a young child.

  9. Yvette Berry says:

    I am happy that this research was done in Barbados and it should continue. my great grandfather was Robert Shepherd a red leg from Bathsheba and the Parish of St. Joseph. He was from Scotland. it is good to see that these persons were not shy to be photographed and to tell their story.

    Yvette Berry

  10. Yvette Berry says:

    We are now trying to create a legacy of what is remaining from the Shepherds of Bathsheba, St. Joseph in Barbados.

    Yvette Berry
    3rd generation Shepherd

    • Ryan Shepherd says:

      I’m a decedent Shepherd who’s great gran mother was from St John

      • Yvette Berry says:

        What was your great grandmothers name? Mine was Elizabeth Shepherd née Hinson

        Yvette Berry
        3rd generation Shepherd

    • Fred Sheppard says:

      Hello Yvette,

      I’d be interested in learning more about the Shepherds/ Sheppards in Barbados. Recently, we’ve discovered that my Grandfather, John Sheppard, was from Barbados and went to work with the Dominion Iron and Steel Co in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in the early 1900s. They lived in Whitney Pier. But that’s all we know, so far. Cheers. Fred

      • eaddy says:

        Hello, my uncle John Olton also worked for Dominion Steel at Whitney Pier. I visited there in 2016 and was able to visit the company house where they lived and the African Orthodox church where they worshiped. I also have roots at Foster Hall Plantation name Taitt

      • Yvette Berry says:

        I would like to learn more….my family were the Shepherds in Bathsheba. St, joseph

  11. Sue Booth says:

    What an amazing tale, I used to fly into Barbados as a hostess and had no idea that these people even existed. Thank you for making people aware of them. Very touching

  12. Bob Foster says:

    Are there no young ones?

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      Of course there are “young ones”. They have married into the community over the cours of dozens of generations and they would not be as “photo-worthy” perhaps to the researcher. Rhianna, the currently popular model / singer is a “young one”. She will marry and have a family with an afro american and you wouldn’t know who you’re sitting next to !!! Red legs are not mutants.

  13. Margaret Hinkson says:

    I do believe that should be spelt Hinkson

    • Michael Delaney says:

      I did research on West Indians in Chicago in 1971. There was a Bishop Hinkson, I believe, at the African American Methodist Church–if I remember correctly. I think he was from Barbados. I met him through a Grenadian women by the name of Little–I think. She took me to church and served me toast, smoked chicken and a glass of home made fruit wine “Like my father used to make back in Grenda”, she said.

      • Pablo Genty says:

        My name is Pablo Genty (pgenty26@gmail.com) and was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad of a Trinidadian father and a Venezuelan mother. I have lived most of my life in Venezuela and the US but lived the first fifteen years of my life mainly in San Fernando, Trinidad. There was a family from Barbados that lived diagonally opposite to us in Gordon Street, the Hinksons. There were Mr and Mrs Hinkson, then the children Ada, Patty, Harry, Timmy and Jean. Timmy was one of my best friends and I was wondering if any of those mentioned above are still around and can be contacted. I say this is because I am now 82 years old. Thanks a million.

  14. Danne Costelloe says:

    I am of Irish ancestry living in Trindad……maybe I can assist in someway.

    • phil mccluskey says:

      i think that so much can be done to help. Any ideas? i think i can come up with many to help theses people who have suffered and been left there. ? Perhaps we can get a funding project together and campaign too. My family had nothing when we all came to Britain from Ireland, some recent ,but some after the famine, and i feel something has to be done. anyone agree????

      • Debra says:

        Dolly Parton works with her hometown community in the Smokey Mountains. Maybe when Rianna is older, she will contribute some way to make money for her hometown. I came into this site to find out more about my Irish family that migrated to Barbadoes. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have a good name, it is Powers.

        • Ralph Beckles says:

          I knew of two Power brothers from St. John in Barbados. Probably related to members of the redlegs community.

        • jado graham says:

          Please note before you post anything about Rihanna ;She helps them .Also, please note if someone doesn’t want to move ,they aren’t going to move. My lineage is part of that Redlegs history but my family left Barbados and went to the Virgin Islands.

      • John Murphy says:

        Great Article,
        Blame Oliver Cromwell ! after the plantations of Ireland he sent the followers of his Irish enemies to Monserrat, Barbados, St Lucia etc as slaves,,,,,also called “The Red Shanks” (shank being the lower part of the leg). and yes they cheaper thab black slaves, plenty of factual histoty books on this subject. Would anyone consider setting up a GO Fund me page ? It was done recently to help native American people during the Covid 19 pandemic , they raised in excess of 6 million US $

  15. Michael Delaney says:

    I have researched a community of Barbadians in Grenada who are descendants of these same Irish, Scott and English slaves and indentures. The community in Grenada does not seem so desperate as those described in this report. The Mong Mong Bajans as they are called came from Barbados around 1850 as I recall. Gittens, Medford and Dowden are among the names found in the community.

    • Myrna Taitt says:

      In Grenada they are called Mt. Moritz Bajans after the community where they settled or Mong Mong, (derived I believe from the word Mount, pronounced locally without the final consonant). Similarly in St. Vincent they are known as Dorsetshire (pronounced locally Dorshter) Hill Bajans after the place where they lived.

      • Michael Delaney says:

        Do you know any of the surnames of the “Red legs” in St. Vincent. I think we need a new term that properly describes this category of people. How about Caribbean Exiles from the British Isles?

        • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

          All tawney skinned people in the British Caribbean can be considered to have ancestry in the “British Isles” or Portugal. If you are terribly in need of a name to call us, I would suggest “brown skinned” or “red skinned”. It doesn’t bother if it’s not used in an offensive context..

        • aeg says:

          The ones here in St. Vincent are of Scottish descent. They were exiled after surrendering to the English at Culloden.

          • Mary Beharry says:

            We do not need to change Redlegs as it refrs to how they looked after working in the sun, bush etc I am from Dublin but lived in he Caribban fr 30 years we were NOT taught about IRISH SLAVE TRADE at School Loreto Convnt. I learned about it in Trinidad In all of the Islands especially Montserrat evidence is obvious. MANY poor people of mixed race who say they are Irish! anybody with any obvious Black /caucasan mixture is always described as RED. Many articles from Barbadoes have Photos of descendants and their names. Many Caribban Pirates were also Irsh including Women.

          • Ralph Beckles says:

            Really, that seems to contradicts history! But I’ll seriously research this. You should read Dr. Karl Watson’s paper “Walk and Nyam Backras” it’s online.

            My grandfather Ashton Yearwood was born and grew in this community.

            He was one of the fortunate ones; he was able to rise to the position of Overseer at Clifton Hall Plantation. He married a black woman and they had five children of mixed race.

          • Ron Murphy says:

            Wow I can’t believe this article, so eye opening! I know quite a bit about my heritage but had never heard the term Redlegs.

            My father is from St. Vincent.

            My grandfather was a Dorshter Hill Bajan with the surname Murphy which certainly is Irish. His wife, my grandmother was indeed of Scottish decent maiden name Gibson and her grandparents were from Barbados.

          • G B says:

            Not all are Scottish, some would have migrated to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from Barbados, they would be also of Irish and Welsh background

          • Sara-Elizabeth Heller says:

            Part of my family, The Griffiths & The Haynes, married into the Yearwoods. My great great aunt Isa was a Yearwood who ended up immigrating to the US in the 1930s.

            My Irish side “moved up” in Barbados when my great great great grandfather was orphaned young and taken in by a much better off family on the island. It helped him “marry up”.

        • Aidan Montague says:

          Ireland is not in the British Isles, despite what any British map may have you believe. These Irish people have suffered enough, do not add to it by saying they are from the British Isles, the home of that murdering bastard Oliver Cromwell, who’s orders sent these slaves to Barbados

          • Mary Beharry says:

            I TOTALLY AGREE I was delighted to SPIT on his “grave” in Westminster when I found myself on a tour. Whispered ROT IN HELL YOU Bastard. I Feell VERY Angry when OUR Country is included in the term British Isles. I have been disappointed at the way ppl in Ireland REJECT MY Strong Feelings of Hate and resentment NEVER FORGIVE HEM OR FORGET!! I believe but it seems I am in the minority Many Now SADLY WANT TO BE English HOW COULD THEY?

          • phil mccluskey says:

            Hey Aidan? i am on your page there;) i did also post a message above about funding/helping(no scam..just honesty) . I have thought something should be done for a while now. Get in touch?

          • phil mccluskey says:

            Hey ? i am on your page there;) i did also post a message above about funding/helping(no scam..just honesty) . I have thought something should be done for a while now. Get in touch?
            Repeat of message i just posted.
            also, see the message i posted above…in reply to Danne costello’s message
            Let’s do something now?

          • Katie says:

            @Ron Murphy I have family from Barbados with the surname of Murphy as well…

        • Amecia says:

          I’m from Irish descent as well. Some names from St.Vincent. …. Gibson…. Greaves…Davis… Gooding..Leslie…. Mofford..

    • Linda says:

      I am researching the MEDFORD name. My GG GF William Alleyne Medford born in St Andrews Bdos 1851. I am at a loss to locate specifics on his parents James William Medford (born 1823) and Susan Pearne. You mentioned the Medford name- have you come across this family in your Barbados research?
      Thank you.

      • Ralph Beckles says:

        Oh yes there are a number of Medfords in Barbados. A family of Mefords also migrated to Costa Rica circa 1870s. The Costa Rican football coach, Hermann Medford is a descendant of that Medford family.

      • Judy says:

        Linda, we are related! William Alleyne Medford is my 2nd great uncle – married to Louisa. Let’s compare notes.

    • Flyinfish says:

      Think there are some Vaughans in Mount Moritz, also

  16. Dick Bacchus says:

    Great article.

  17. Michael Delaney says:

    Oliver Cromwell rounded up the children of Irish landowners when he removed the Irish to Connaught and settled his followers and soldiers on the vacated lands around the middle of the 17th C. He wanted to remove the gentry class who would have future claims on the land. I did research on the “Mong Mong Bajans” of Grenada who were “red legs” from Barbados. They have lived in an area called Mount Mortiz since the middle of the 1800s. They did not intermarry until the 1950’s. Many went to Australia when that country opened the doors in the 80’s (I believe). Only unmixed whites were accepted. I have not found very many Irish names among that group. Some say that they were involved in the Monmouth Rebellion. That would account for the English and Scottish names. I will get out my notes and add more information later. The book Story of an Irish Slave Girl gives some insights into the circumstances of these slaves and indentures from the British Isles.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve read that book, have it in my every growing library on this subject. My Dad is from the Greaves, Medford, Searles, Chandlers of St. Andrew, Barbados, also called the Scotland District. We’ve always been told that our ancestors were from Scotland, not Ireland but who knows. I’ve found it interesting that the Mt. Moritz group has many of those same names.

      • mike delaney says:

        Anne: From my research with the Folks at Mt. Moritz in Grenada I would say the most if not all have Scottish background. Bowden, Greaves, Medford, Harris, Carr. I think Searles. I can get a better list for you if you like.

        • paul says:

          The Scots Irish come from Ulster (northern Ireland) so such names do not necessarily mean they came from Scotland to the Caribbean . In any event, the Scots themselves came from Ireland.

          • M Gormley says:

            What are you talking about ???

          • M Gormley says:

            Scottish people come from Scotland !

          • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

            Mr Gormley needs to refresh his take on Scottish history. Scottish families migrated to Ireland in large numbers both as a result of the government-sanctioned Plantation of Ulster, a planned process of colonization which took place under the auspices of James VI of Scotland and I of England on land confiscated from members of the Gaelic nobility of Ireland who fled Ulster and as part of a larger migration or unplanned wave of settlement.

            Ulster Scots emigrated onward from Ireland in significant numbers to all corners of the then-worldwide British Empire—what are now Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, as well as the West Indies,and even South America. Scotch-Irish (or Scots-Irish) is a traditional term for Ulster Scots who emigrated to North America.

          • ger says:

            The Roman generic name for the Irish Gaels was the Scoti…They populated the west of Scotland including the highlands of Scotland ..The original Picts were absorbed by the Irish Gael which lends their name to Scotland–Scoti-land ..The Scots or Irish Gaels were defeated at Culloden by the English and many were sent off to Barbados as slaves.
            The Ulster Scots were from the English/Scot border area and were not Gaels ..they were seen as a nuisence to the English so were given land in the Irish provence of Ulster where they were used as a buffer in Ireland against the Gaelic Irish ..Like the Irish Catholics they were persecuted for their religious beliefs by the English and many headed off to America where they settled around the Appalacians .Many of their decendants are still there and are referred to as “The Hill-billys” The native Irish went in their millions to the cities of America where they eventually thrived and became very very successful ..They are the second most successful people in the USA after the Jewish people and their numbers are second to those of Germans at aprox 40million..

          • Flyinfish says:

            Yep, Scotch Irish is Scots That’s my mother’s side Fathers side is English Barefield and Vaughan
            I suppose that the English have gotten a bit better since those times, but , yes, that’s also why wherever one goes in former British colonies the older families were run out to the colonies by Cromwell and later arrivals were likely Celtic and sold into slavery at one time or another according to whether they were Roman Catholic or Protestant when the other side won a major battle

        • Anne says:

          I would not just like I would beg. Searles and Chandler is also some of our names.

          Thank You I would greatly appreciate this

          • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

            Anne, there are numerous Searles and Chandlers in Barbados. Today the majority will not resemble a person of Irish ethnicity. A much larger West African slave community will have been absorbed or simply adopted the names of the planter who “owned” them. Irish and Scotsmen that were transplanted also eventually became part of the slave owning planter class. A Searles was one of the first governors of the island – hardly therefore shipped out in chains as a victim of Cromwell’s extermination !!

      • jim Lockhart says:

        I was Born in St Vincent with a Chandler Great Grandmother doing Research would like to correspond on subject

        • mike delaney says:

          Those names are common in Mount Moritz in Grenada as well. I believe they are Scottish names.

      • Stacey Searles says:

        Taking a shot in replying to this as I am just coming across this story now. Can you please tell me which book this is you are referring to? I am a Searles and I am trying to research how my family came to be in Barbados. THANK YOU!

        • Mike delaney says:

          Greaves and Medfords were in the group of Barbadians who went to Grenada in the middle of the 19th Century. Roland Medford is in Gouyave. I believe there are still Greaves in Mount Moritz which is their original settlement.

      • Stacey Searles says:

        THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! Any any information you can lead me to to find this information would be greatly appreciated.

    • phil mccluskey says:

      Hi Michael. Very good stuff you post here. Please keep in touch with me. Buichas agus Slan go foll

  18. Jennifer Hosten says:

    I am truly shocked and saddened to read about the plight of these folks who have suffered poverty such a long period in the Caribbean. I also wonder about the responsibility of the Government of Barbados in this situation. Surely this is not something any country could be proud of. Perhaps this attention will force the powers that be over there to do the right thing finally.

    • C Weekes says:

      Please do not be mislead into thinking that this community has been specifically targeted by any group on the island. This is not the US or South Africa.

      All Barbadians, no matter the colour of their skin have the same opportunities. Africans (salves) are also not indigenous to the island, yet they have made their way into all levels of society.

      With respect, the government nor the people of Barbadians do not own a particular debt to this community. Black and white are now all Barbadians.

  19. stephen fenty says:

    many of the people in the photos i know,and quite a few of them are related to me ,Betty Fenty is my mother’s sister,i went to school with the Downies, they are also related to me,my grandfather and their grandfather were brothers, i live in venezuela i dont get to visit the island very often, i was last there for my mother’s 80th. birthday in March 2015

    • Stephen was your Grandfather Edward Fenty? Is so he was a dear friend of my Family in Georgetown, B.G. I used to meet him at my Uncle Eric and Aunt Laura Johnsons home every time he’d visit. I was just curious. The Corbin’s were friends as well, undertakers?
      Have a good day!

    • Ralph Beckles says:

      I’m related to the people in the photo as well. My father was a Yearwood, but grew with the Fentys in New Castle after both of his parents died in !932/33.

      • Sara-Elizabeth Heller says:

        My great great aunt Isa was a Yearwood. She was a Whitley who married into the family.

    • Magaret Whitehall says:

      My name is Margaret Downie aBarbadian my fathers name is Jonathan Agustas Downie from Hillary St Andrew Barbados,growing up my dad would tell us stories about our family but never got to really know or meet many of them any info would be appreciated.

      • Linda Todd Frankenbach says:

        Hello Margaret,

        I am from the US. My name is Linda Frankenbach I live on Long Island, east of NYC.

        I am a descendent ,through my maternal grandfather, George Todd, of the Fenty’s. The first Fenty I have found who emigrated to Barbados in the early 1600’s Isa William Fenty. I have traced his descendants to the the 1700’s . I know after that there are many and many remain there.I have not traced the family to your mother and aunt yet. We all seem to trace back to that original first Frenty named William. And yes, I believe we are all related to Rihanna through that original Fenty who came over from Ireland, but was probably Scots Irish. I have met some Fentys in Barbados in the last years. Happy to talk any time.I still have much more research to do.I would like to learn more about that first Fenty who went to Barbados.

  20. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for this article. It warms my heart to know you are helping these people.

  21. Joe Kilroy says:

    From the British Isles? They are from Ireland.

  22. mary beharry says:

    Proud of my IRISH HISTORY but world should know thst Irish Slaves were in Barbados before the arrivals from Africa.They were deliberately bred with African Slaves to achieve fairer new Slaves for house duties etc

  23. Angela Maynard says:

    I am in shock. I knew that there were people of Irish and Scottish descent living in Barbados. However, I never knew that they lived in such horrible conditions. They are Barbadians!! where are their representation? How come the various governing bodies never looked into their plight. This is indeed a shame.

    • I am Barbadian but my father and grand father were from Nevis. I wonder if there is any connection to the Maynards in Nevis to the Irish slave trade?

  24. Grainne Kearns says:

    The book, to Hell or Barbados by Sean O Callaghan, researched at the Barbados Museum, gives a thorough insight in to the Redlegs. The book The Stolen Village, of Baltimore, West Cork, tells the true story of a whole village taken by the Barbary Pirates in the 1600 hundreds. Many people were taken as slaves from Ireland and Britain.

  25. Lee Farnum-Badley says:

    I would refer those persons who are interested in this subject to read
    “To Hell or Barbados: The ethnic cleansing of Ireland” by Sean O’Callaghan. England achieved its dominance in the Caribbean and North America by a process of deliberate “planting” of people. The word “plantation” described this social engineering strategy, and only later to actual agricultural activity.
    The Irish Catholic (usually supporters of the monarchy and so against Cromwell’s Republic) Irish were used as enslaved prisoners of the Monmouth Rebellion. Later in history whites were “invited” to the Caribbean by a system of apprenticeship known as indenture. No one teaches this dark aspect of history in schools.

    • Louis King says:

      I taught it as a part of West Indian History for years at 3 different secondary schools in Barbados. I’d be very disappointed to learn that an island wide change in recommended texts resulted in this aspect of our history being neglected. As my friend @Lee Farnum-Badley suggested, by far the greatest proportion of this exiled community has integrated into the wider Afro-ethnic Bajan community. Another higher IQ proportion moved easily into the ranks of the White planter-merchant class which have held on to their wealth and privilege over the years. This explains why the remnants of this community are so impoverished, since they have lost the more adventurous, intelligent, and resourceful members over the years. I could identify individuals with these names (redmen we used to call them,) living all over the island, not just in St Joseph: Allamby, Goddard, Fenty, Bailey, even Kings, are all VERY COMMON names throughout the island. 13 years of teaching, put me in intimate contact with literally THOUSANDS of names to which I can still place faces and ethnic features.

      The integration of this isolated group gathered pace during the 50s when it was widely publicized that inbreeding had resulted in a very high death rate from various genetic disorders. Before the hospital began routinely amputating spurious digits and correcting cleft palates, I myself had noted that these congenital deformities were much more prevalent among people of fairer skin.

      It is not widely known that many of the Appalachian “Mountain men” of the Carolinas arrived in the US from Barbados, to the extent that many of them have similar names to their Barbadian counterparts. Even the name ‘Red-neck” bares an ironic similarity to the term “Red-leg” which was once more current in Barbados.

      • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

        Hey Louis. Having read about the conditions and treatment that transplanted Irish Catholics and Scottish rebels were subjected to in the early years of settlement, I have come to doubt that any of them left any trace of their origin – including their names. They were after all less valuable nominally and productivity-wise that African slaves and were sent here as punishment to die. An escapee would not even have survived long in a community that was hostile from all sides. The few “extant vintage Bajan redmen” are more likely to be the descendants not of Celtic origin but of Anglo-Saxon indentured servants and lesser adventurer-farmers that might have owned a few acres land but were eventually dispossessed by creditors and the more powerful estate-owner class. If they couldn’t transition into any artisan profession, they would have become very poor very quickly. Many went of to live in marginal lands like St.John and in less used neighbouring islands like St.Vincent. Farnum is one such, I’m pretty sure. People did what they could, and if it matters at all to have had their names survive – not like the names of of any my African blood relatives whose ancestry was ruthlessly obliterated by the Englishman’s economic designs on the colony. We shall all have the same name and aim someday.

        • Dougal Bascombe says:

          Lee, your comment here is pure speculation. It is not worthy of your previous comments.

  26. kate cummins says:

    Wow I never knew this!
    I am a white quarter irish lady.
    I feel a very strong spiritual connection with Barbados, I first visited 20 years ago,with a friend, then have been visiting since I met my partner nearly 9 years ago, who’s mum was born in Barbados,my partner has family living in christ church. I had to call my mum in England to tell her I was born in the wrong worthing,when we visited one time !!! as I was born in worthing sussex, England.
    This last time I went, I noticed the name Cummins a couple of times, in names of roads and places, that is my last name and my grandad was Irish, just wondered if you have any information of the link of the Cummins name with Barbados? Thank you, Kate.

    • pauline says:

      Hiya Kate
      My comment is not very helpful to you but I am posting it for general information! There is a connection to the COMMINS in the East Indies (ile Maurice, reunion chagos etc) who probably came from Ireland too. Sometimes via England or France. maybe as poor white slaves and then of mixed race.

  27. Jason says:

    I have heared that a number of families left Martins Bay to set up businesses in Bridgetown after plundering a Spanish ship that floundered offshore. I’m not sure if it is true.

  28. Veejay says:

    Found this article quite interesting reading. Clearly these people prefer to live among themselves. Did not know of them at all and I am in my 60’s. So sad to learn of their poor living conditions. Hope their Parliamentary representative can look into their situation and see what can be done for them.

  29. Wow, what a sob story. I could not read more than a quarter of it. Imagine English people reading this – how they must laugh!

    Stick to the wild life. The sob story Irish has been way overdone.

    Look at the condescension in all of the comments. Are you of English stock yourself?

    • M Beharry says:

      Typical English condescension They left Division and Misery wherever they plundered and invented Tortures like Haned Drawn and Quartered !

      • The Brits are still plundering and destroying to this day. We in Scotland had our chance of freedom last year and we didn’t take it mainly due to the older generation who voted No through fear of the unknown. I feel heart sorry for these people and as a visitor to Barbados, did not know of their existence. I don’t believe for a second that these folk have chosen to live in this squalor, and yes, the government should have helped them out years ago.

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      I am a Barbadian. My ancestors are probably a mix of African, Welsh and Amerindian indentured or enslaved English “plantations” that make up the present populations of the islands. It is commonly believed that caucasians in the Americas are all descendant of slave owners, and should therefore be held accountable for “reparations” to Afro-Caribbean or Afro-American peoples. The writer of To Hell or Barbados provides some balance. Most history is sob stuff and we’ll surely all be a sob story some day too. Enjoying the wild life while we can is the best we can do isn’t it ? That”s our well earned right now that the sob stuff is out of the way !!

    • Gemjunior says:

      WOW!!! What a huge, giant, massive, colossal ASSHOLE you must be. Ugh, thank GOD none of us has to actually KNOW you or God forbid, socialize/work with your ugly ass personality and evil spirit. This is actually a warm and beautiful story. The comments and interactions, questions related to place names and people, reaching out to each other and supporting each other took my breath away and renewed my faith in human beings and then along comes you. Brought me right back to why we have war and murder – the spirit of enmity. What a total fuck-up you are! Go and take a vow of silence for the love of God and leave us in peace.

    • Roger Spring says:

      Your stock sent my 8x great grandfather to Barbados in 1650-51. I’m glad you did, as he came to America in 1662 after marrying a girl named Cicely Cullimore. Our family has prospered in this great country and the English actions did me a favor, it got us the hell out of Scotland… it does pain me to see those who stayed behind, never leaving Barbados for America…

      • James Griffith says:

        Cicely appears to be my 5x GGM. I would like to know more of her, the Cullamores and the Bohannons.

  30. Dorothy says:

    My Grandfather on my fathers side was born and grew up in Barbados his parents my great grand parents came to Barbados from England, I grew up spending time in Barbados every year as a child and young adult, and still have family there, Barbados is in my opinion one of if not the most beautiful island I have traveled to, but I am shocked to learn, about these unfortunate beautiful people, I hope I get maybe one more opportunity to visit Barbados again, and make their acquaintance.

  31. As mentioned above I strongly recommend “reading Sean O. Callaghan’s “To Hell or Barbados” It does leave certain questions but regrettably the author is deceased.

  32. Ros Bourne says:

    When I was a child we lived in St. John and my mum used to collect clothing for the folk who lived “below the hill”
    as it was termed then. My Dad was Parochial Treasurer for St.
    John and one of his functions was as “Poor Law Guardian” to
    decide who needed help to survive. They would come to his office
    to receive a weekly stipend. This was nothing to do with the Old
    Age Pension which continues to this day. I am not sure about the other
    assistance to those in dire straits. Will have to check on this, I now live in Florida USA. Thanks Sheena for the exposure and Willie et al for your great kindness…

  33. Jane Joseph says:

    I found this article fascinating. As a historian and teacher of Caribbean history more particularly that of Guyana where I lived and taught for 18 years, I knew that there had been lots of poor free white settlers on the islands during the early colonisation, but I just assumed they had by now all integrated by intermarriage with other ethnic groups on the islands after slavery ended.

  34. M Beharry says:

    Look up The IRISH SLAVE TRADE and you will see that Irish Slaves were most Numerous group of slaves BEFORE the Arrival of the First Africans They were bred together to provide lighter skinned Sex Workers and domestics, Their Mistreatment was as Harsh as any meted out to Sfrican slaves later

  35. JUDY KING says:

    A few years ago I came across a documentary “Scotland Barbados sugar slaves” and the residents in the story are the same ones. I wonder if the residents were aware that their pictures and sad circumstances were going to be shown all over the world, some of it I am pretty sure is nothing short of pure exploitation. My husband is originally from New castle and some of what is written is way off base, I know of four people who went on to University, three of them won island scolarships and went on to make a success in their career path, also not all the folks lives in shacks with unspeakable sanitary conditions, some of them wanted a better life for themselves and their families so they worked hard to make a living, employers who owned the big stores on Broad street preferred them over over hiring black employees, as a matter of fact it was the norm to have a mother, father, aunts, uncles and cousins all working at the same store. Yes some of them are living under dire circumstances having fell through the cracks through no fault of their own, on the other hand some of them who lacked the basic tools when it came to education, figured that their colour was the key to opening doors for them so they decided to wait for their ship to come in the rum shop.

    • Judy, on thinking back to my years of living on Grenada, St Vincent and Barbados, most of what you said is true. Yes, the ‘poor whites’ as they were called were scorned by the island blacks, however they were not all living in squalor. Especially in Barbados where tertiary education was free, many of them went to college and earned their degrees, thus enabling a better life for their families. By showcasing the poverty, the writer of the article showed bias.
      It’s like the journalists who came to Montserrat to cover our active volcano in the mid-1990’s. They declared to the world that this island was abandoned. Yes, half the population fled because half our island was destroyed, however the surviving half is built up and people are living well.
      I wish the writer had opened the windows, let the sun in and let us see the truth about these Irish (and Scottish) descendants. In other words, give us the good news. Sadly, only the negative sells papers.

      • Susan Wolfe says:

        Yes, I agree with you both that this article is quite bias. There is no doubt that the redlegs…or Ecky Beckies (as we from Martin’s call them) live in poor and sometimes unsanitary conditions but the fact of the matter is many peopls from that region live the same… They are no worse off because of their colour. Addituonally, I personally know of Ecky Beckies who went to private school with me…just like .my black family could pull itself up and out of poverty so did they. These days there are no limitations except those you place on yourself. When I was a young girl the Ecky Beckies were different..they were poor..they weren’t educated and they were swarthy…now after returning to my island home I wouldnt recognise a poor white from a Goddard or a Sheppard. So, I do thank you for the article but the bias left a bad taste.

        • Pauline says:

          Hello there Susan Wolfe or anyone else who might help me. I am trying to trace the family of a Dorothy Goddard of My Lord’s Hill, St Michael? Barbados, her daughter Violet and her Great Grand daughter Maureen for her Grandson Winston F.Hoyte who now lives in England. We are trying to find out more about the GODDARDS and HOYTES of Barbados. You mentioned the GODDARDS. Do you know if any of them were of Irish origin or did you just mention them as being typical Afro Carribeans? Especially do you know of a Belfield, a Leonard or a Stephen HOYTE. The family emigrated from Barbados in 1950s to England but some of the Goddard and Hoyte family remained (and maybe) remains in Barbados. Please email me if you can add any information. Photos of My Lord’s Hill would be interesting. Also see the Hoyte Genealogy page on Facebook
          PS Hiya Kate
          My comment is not very helpful to you but I am posting it for general information! There is a connection to the COMMINS in the East Indies (ile Maurice, reunion chagos etc) who probably came from Ireland too. Sometimes via England or France. maybe as poor white slaves and then of mixed race. Pauline

        • pauline says:

          Hi Susan Wolfe, I am wondering if you can help me as I am trying to find out more about The GODDARDS (and HOYTES) of Barbados. You mentioned the Goddards …was that because they have Irish/Bajan history in Barbados? or is it a random surname you used? I am seeking to find out family related to Dorothy (Marby) Goddard of my Lord’s Hill, Bridgetown, her daughter Violet, her Grand daughter Maureen for her Grandson Winston F. Hoyte. If you or anyone else reading can connect me up to the family or know anything that might be helpful we would be so glad. Even photos of my Lord’s Hill or vicinity would be of interest. They may have been Methodists. Winston lives in England and has nobody in Barbados that he knows of. But his Grandfather BELFIELD HOYTE or Uncles LEONARD or STEPHEN Hoyte may still live in Barbados. Please help. Visit Hoyte Genealogy group on Facebook to find out more. Thanks pauline
          pS Hiya Kate
          My comment is not very helpful to you but I am posting it for general information! There is a connection to the COMMINS in the East Indies (ile Maurice, reunion chagos etc) who probably came from Ireland too. Sometimes via England or France. maybe as poor white slaves and then of mixed race. Pauline

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      Most people whether Irish/Scottish, Amerindian or African descendants live quite contentedly with each other and with their lot – until someone comes along to make them feel some nonexistent entitlement. There is no urban squalor to contend with – certainly not in the beautiful parish of St. John. No one in the photographs considers himself or herself underprivileged or entitled to more than the rest of the population. They have all of the comforts of technology and development infrastructure that you would expect in a typical mixed race neighbourhood in modern Barbados. The photographers don’t show these trappings, because their objective is to highlight anachronism. Poor white have largely miscegenated with the larger afro-caribbean community and the few families that have married their own exclusively for too many generations suffer from genetic conditions caused by inbreeding – but by and large their “stock” has outlived the cruelties and re-stocking of expendable chattel slave workers for 400 years!

      • Chris Atkins says:

        I have just started my family tree and have found out that my Great Grandma Sara Ann Scott was born in St Johns Barbados.
        Her parents were John Edward Scott & Elizabeth Ann Burgess.
        I would appreciate it if anyone who may have any information on the Scott family history there would be kind enough to email it to me. Many thanks Chris

    • Carolyn King says:

      Good comment, Judy. You are not by chance related to Elton King of Martins Bay. I am in Barbados with my family from the US and would like to meet some relatives. I think you might have met either my father Charles or my aunt Edna or maybe my cousin Edward?

  36. Loved this article. I live on Montserrat, one of the Leeward Islands, where many of our villages have Irish names, as well as many of the population. Our phone book is filled with the names O’Garro, Sweeney, Galloway, Cassell, Tuitt and Ryan among others. St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday here and the island celebrates it with a week of activities. Our national colours are those of Ireland – green, orange and white. I am related through the Ryan connection. The difference between us and Barbados is, we don’t have any impoverished Irish!

  37. Lee Farnum-Badley says:

    Fascinating topic for a movie – perhaps using Rhianna as a leading figure. This will make people aware of this racial anomaly !

    • Mary Beharry says:

      As to making a Movie about it! Somebody SHOULD The Worl NEEDS to KNOW about the BRUTAL Acts of the English to the IRISH Nation and others. People DO NOT BELIEVE me when I tell them about it Hopefully one day

      M Beharry formerly jackson.

  38. Brad Burns says:

    Cromwell’s curse still alive today. That bastard has Red Legs for sure where he’s cooking.

    • mike delaney says:

      Cromwell rampaged through Ireland in 1649. The export of Irish to Barbados followed. Charles 1 was monarch in England in 1636.

      • Brad Burns says:

        Cromwell was responsible for the Irish “exportation” as he allowed his generals to do it. Sold into slavery at his consent. It’s in his head.

  39. Glad that this subject is now being verified by the people themselves.

  40. Lee Farnum-Badley says:

    Aye. Reparations are due !!

  41. Toni Moss Butler says:

    Eye opening history. As a child and over the years I visited Barbados to see family that remained in Barbados. I never knew the origins of the
    The people of St. Andrews parish. It is now 2016 and help should be forth coming to improve the lives of all the survivors of the transatlantic slavetrade.

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      Apply to the Crown for reparations. But the planters in the Caribbean were indemnified handsomely by the Crown when they were required to free their slaves in 1860. The emancipated African slaves received no compensation and went back to work on the plantations for meager wages. Since the ratio of whites to african peoples on an estate was critical for plantation owners to feel secure the “tawny” mixed race people were given the “better” jobs and the closer more fertile pieces of land so as to retain them. Most Irish descendants in Barbados that are poor have chosen to stay comfortable ignoring all educational opportunities and occupational diversification. The few exceptions are the champions of industry in the island today: families like Simpson, Goddard, Williams . . . . . Time to visit Barbados again. Toni !!

      • Shirley Spycalla says:

        I think it has been said many times that these persons are of Scottish descent, not Irish.

        • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

          Both. Following the War of the Three Kingdoms both the vanquished Irish and Scottish survivors were persecuted and expelled. Then under Cromwell’s Puritan Protectorate many ordinary civilian men and women were dispossessed because of their religious adherence (to Roman Catholicism) or simply for being vagrants.

          • mike delaney says:

            After Cromwell defeated the Irish he and his brother killed those Irish elites with rights to land and shipped many of their children to Barbados after 1649.

        • kent says:

          Yes Scottish not Irish.

          • Roger says:

            I am a descendent of one of those Scottish sold after the Battle of Dunbar. After 7 years of slavery, he was free, then married and left for America…. Thank God..

          • ger says:

            Same thing

    • Arundell Butler says:

      Hi There. I would like to know more about you. Could you email me.
      Arundell Butler

      • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

        Here’s the start of an award winning film !!!

      • mike delaney says:

        Arundel Butler:

        Are you out of the Kilkenny Butler family? The Delaneys are out of Laois and Kilkenny

        • Arundell Butler says:

          I am from Barbados. The Butlers came here in 1600’s, some have died out but it appears the majority have left . There are less than 100 here now with that surname who are Barbadian. There are a few from other places

          • mike delaney says:

            The Butlers were one of the most powerful Norman-English families in Ireland from the 13th century on. Their castle is in good shape in Kilkenny. I was not aware that the Butlers were deported to Barbados by Cromwell. They might have gone out earlier I suppose when Queen Elizabeth implanted Leix. I am interested in all the Irish surnames that are found in Barbados among this group.

          • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

            There are not many Irish names in Barbados that survived the period of ethnic cleansing almost 350 years ago. The enslaved and exiled “plantations” of Irish and Scottish peoples were not expected to survive the cruelties they endured – much less thrive – and by and large they didn’t. Irish names in Barbados today arrived there with much later emigrations perhaps even as voluntary indentured workers,as skilled craftsmen, in trading or shipping or even as fortune seekers in slave owning sugar cultivation themselves. The majority of Irish family names in Barbados today belong to a new generation of settlers and are in technology and in professional services.

  42. Dermot Power says:

    The English government has a moral responsibility for the welfare of these people, and should be pursued for reparation.

    • kent says:

      They are many more desendents of Irish slaves that are not poor and have moved away from Barbados or live in wall houses that are not shown in this article.
      We all do not look like these people shown here..
      See here for the groosum details of the Irish slaves that were in Barbados before any black slaves were on the island..

    • Kathleen Power says:

      I would like to find out information about where in Ireland the Power family lived in Ireland.My father a descendant of Irish an d African heritage left Barbados in the 30’s.We still have many Powers still residing in Barbados.If you have any information on how to connect these dots I would appreciate it.I know the British kept records of every one.kathleen

  43. Deirdre says:

    My mother is Irish. We have lived in Barbados for nearly 50 years. As part of my History degree, at UWI Cavehill, my thesis was on the Irish in Barbados during the 17th century. There are quite a few Irish living in Barbados now.

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      Yes, this might be so but only because of more recent “attractions” to the island. Perhaps with your roots and interest in the humanities you will be in a position to bring a greater consciousness about slavery. Many afro-caribbean people in the region today feel that their ancestors were the only victims of transplantation and forced labour.

    • Kathy English says:

      I live in USA and from doing ancestry DNA I am finding out I have 3rd cousins from Barbados some of the last names are Mayers , Wilkie & Norris I would love to hear more about my family and figure out how I fit in. If anyone knows these last names please contact me. Bguysmom@aol.com

      • Mike Delaney says:

        Oliver Cromwell rounded up the children of the Irish clan elites, killed them and sent their children off to Barbados so those with historic claims to Irish land would be removed. This would have been after about 1650. The descendants of these Irish would have been disconnected from their history, roots and religion. It would be unlikely if any of this history got passed down orally from that long ago. It would be very interesting to know if I am wrong about this. Maher is a big name among the Irish disposed today (travelers). I would guess that the Irish Mayers of Barbados were of the same origins as the dispossessed in Ireland and that the name was Anglicized.

      • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

        These are common Barbadian names. They come in all colours !!

    • mike delaney says:

      I would like to see your thesis. Is it on line? Could you mail a copy to me?

  44. Leya Clarke says:

    I don’t really understand how this has come to be?

    Thanks for this article. It’s quite interesting. I’m a black British-Barbadian who has lived in Barbados my whole life and only really found out about the history of the Rednecks in the last few years. Honestly it seems so strange to me that the heritage of Rednecks is known as poor whites. How can all or most of them really be? Barbados’ history of racism during slavery and colonialism has always provided more oppurtunities to persons of lighter complexions. Sure the English and European whites may have had more opportunities and better socio-economic treatment than the Irish descendants but surely the Irish descendants had more oppurtunities and socia-economic advantages over the blacks. They also would have had a better head start to better their lives. Even today, a white or light-skinned person has better access to jobs than a black despite the black population being hugely larger. And generally speaking Barbados has pretty good health care and low poverty rates compared to many Caribbean islands and 3rd world countries. And even so I’m sure there are many more poor blacks living in such conditions and suffering from many diseases. So how does this happen that a small sub-set of light-skinned persons have not been able to work together to achieve greater progress in their socio-economic mobility where many black Barbadians (who have a slavery/colonial-influenced culture that leads them to be less likely to work together and trust each) have changed their living and working conditions greatly? Plus education in Barbados is free. Health care is free. Are they still being prejudiced against more so than blacks?

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      I would say that the greater majority of the descendants of Irish and Scottish forced labourers found ways to improve themselves by becoming integrated in one sector of the economy or another (trade or sugar cultivation). Those that have come to be known as “redlegs” have isolated themselves in their cliques, traditionally eschewing intermarriage, and even avoiding the educational opportunities that are there in Barbados for everyone . . . because of their own predjudice towards Afro-caribbean peoples. There is little that can be done to help them now. They distinguishing physiological features will disappear in less than two generations, but it will be unfortunate that we have not recognized their contribution to the building of Barbados’ identity. Thanks largely to them we now all have COLLOURED LEGS !!

  45. Ego says:

    A lot of these ppl just stay away from other people. I too have Redlegs in me, most of us do. Health care was always free and they had access to everything the island has to offer. They are happy as they are.

  46. marie says:

    did you get in contacts with the redmans?

    • Winston Redman says:

      I am a |Redman, family originally from Barbados (circa mid 1650). I was curious about your comment “did you get into contact with the redmans?”

      • Marie says:

        Well my dad is a bajan his father is irish his family surnames are Lee and Redman

      • Gretchen says:

        I am descended from the Redman’s too. Once they got to America the name was changed to Rodman. One of my great grandfather’s was a Rodman and my grandmother was told there was a connection to Barbados after being kicked out of England and Ireland. I went to Barbados 2 years and hoped to get some research done but was was not able to. I’d like to come again soon and spend this time researching.

    • Nag says:

      If you would like to contact us and have a valid reason, I can help you meet my family. My email is naygiabradshaw@gmail.com.

  47. pauline says:

    If anybody wants to contact me about the GODDARDS in Barbados from at least 1900 and any slave history please email me on babybellehouse@gmail.com or see Hoyte Genealogy on Facebook

    • mike delaney says:

      1636 was during the reign of Charies l and before Cromwell. Drogheda was in 1649–the beginning of his devastation and removal of the old Irish from their lands. I wonder what the cause of that effort was. Of course they needed labor in Barbados. I wonder if they just rounded up folks off the streets.

      • John Martin says:

        Hi Mike Delaney, I am a historian from Grenada and connected with Mt. Moritz and would like to connect with you about the research you have done, etc. Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

  48. What about the Banfield family that came in from Trinidad? They later came here and one of their daughters married a black man that allegedly was from San Fernando. They banished her to an old one-roof chattel house with a mud floor and allegedly cursed her line of family. I am one of them,. I was told that they do have businesses here but I have never met any of them though their names are kind of popular in the business community. My eldest sister contacted them but was told that they want nothing to do with us!

  49. micael constancia says:

    my family was looking for NC DL-4B earlier today and came across a business that has lots of form templates . If others are requiring NC DL-4B as well , here’s a https://goo.gl/s5n7st.

  50. Sue says:

    Very interesting article! Joseph Goddard – who started Goddard Enterprises Ltd which is now a multi-million dollar conglomerate spread across the Caribbean, South and Central America – was a ‘Redleg’ from St. John. He was a speculator and opened a grocery store in Bridgetown before purchasing Harrison’s on Broad Street and acquiring several local businesses.

    So, not all of them remained poor. The BBC also produced a film in the 80’s called ‘The Redlegs of Barbados’. Which was researched and written by the late Peter Simmons – former Barbados Ambassador to the UK.

  51. Anita Hargreaves says:

    Can anyone say if the name Hargreaves is irish or Scottish. I am a Trinidadian now living in Barbados. i was told my Great grand father was from Barbados but, the only Hargreaves i have encountered since i am here are English. My deceased father’s complexion could be considered “redleg’ or as they were called in Trinidad “baccra johnie’.
    This article was enlightening although it appears to be a bit biased.

    • Ralph Beckles says:

      Anita, if you know your great grandfather’s name and his approximate year of birth, you can find a copy of his baptismal record online. Google: Barbados baptisms.

  52. sharon perkins says:


    I’m fascinated by the history I’ve read hear. I had no clue. And I’ve been to Barbados twice. My mother was from Barbados my maiden was holder. I’m interested in family names of holder, Paris and rock. My great great grandmother married a rock. Her name was Catherine rock. Had 9 children some moved to Trinidad. The rest stayed in Barbados. Married Paris and then holder. I’m married to perkins also from Barbados.

  53. C Robertson says:

    Interested to know about history of the Rodman’s from Ireland to Barbados in the 1600’s. Also heard last name could be Redman. They owned a Plantation in the “Irish Quarter”???

  54. Jack Steffen says:

    I was never taught any of this in school. You never hear anything about it in the mainstream media. The fact that there were white slaves from Ireland sent to Barbados and other Caribbean islands by Oliver Cromwell, and that some of their ancestors still live there today in poverty. I am going to definitely read and research more about this. I find it fascinating. A lot of “hidden history” is that way.

    • Lee Farnum-Badley says:

      How history is influenced by politics, religion and demagoguery!! All societies have had their dark eras usually in reaction to some perceived threat. This episode of British history was shameful, but it was short-lived and pales in horror compared with almost three centuries of African slavery in the Caribbean which was motivated by capitalist greed.

  55. Terri says:

    This is from the 70’s so some of the terms aren’t politically correct, but this is interesting…

  56. Kathleen Power says:

    The Power family in Barbados had several children some who remained on the island and others who left in the 30’s and earlier.I would like to connect with those who still have a connection to Barbados and Ireland.

  57. Cassandra says:

    This article was truly amazing. I have to wonder if I am related to Erlene, as my family name is Downie as well. To my understanding, my great grandfather was a Sexton at the St. Lenard’s Church located on West Bury Road, St. Michaels. He was also a shoemaker and I believe he was married to Edith Stewart. I have not read through all of these posts, but I’m hoping there is someone who can provide more information on the Downie/Stewart family.

  58. Leslie says:

    I have lots of relatives from Barbados, and since I’m doing a bit of research, encountering this great article (with all the comments) has been quite interesting. Anyone out there from the Haynes, Nichols, Graham families out of Wilson Hill, or Venture?

  59. Ralph Beckles says:

    Joseph Goddard must have been a man of exceptional drive and determination. Not all people have those qualities!

  60. Roy says:

    You have generated an awareness and a lively discussion of this part of our world history that unfortunately, is not sufficiently known or taught in our schools.
    Regardless of how one may evaluate its impact and the reactions it evokes, all history is interesting and valuable; interesting because it records our past, and valuable because it may be a guide for our future.


  61. Denise says:

    We are looking for any information about an ancestor named William Durkee/ Durgy sent to Barbados in the 1500-1600. He would have been with his two brothers most likey.

    • Lee says:

      No name even similar appears in the local telephone directory. Your ancestors would not have been in Barbados before the year of the island’s English settlement (1627). Visitors to the National Archives Department will get information on arrivals dating back to that year.

      • Denise says:

        Thank you Lee, my dates were off. It would have been during the time of Cromwell. We are originally thought to be from Drogheda, Ireland. He and his brothers were thought to have been sent there somewhere between 1649 -1651. He eventually found his way to Boston Back Bay around 1664

    • William Durgy was captured by Cromwellian forces at the Siege of Drogheda in 1649 and transported to Barbados. His parents were killed. In 1663, three years after Charles II was restored to the throne of England, William Durgy made his way to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The rest is history.

      • I am also a descendant of William Durkee. I am trying to figure out how he made his way from the Caribbean to the Massachusetts Bay Colony as an indentured servant.

  62. Carolyn King says:

    Good comment, Judy. You are not by chance related to Elton King of Martins Bay. I am in Barbados with my family from the US and would like to meet some relatives. I think you might have met either my father Charles or my aunt Edna or maybe my cousin Edward?

  63. Carolyn King says:

    Interesting, Judy. You are not by chance related to Elton King of Martins Bay. I am in Barbados with my family from the US and would like to meet some relatives. I think you might have met either my father Charles or my aunt Edna or maybe my cousin Edward?

  64. Peter says:

    Curious question for the Irish diaspora in Barbados and other Caribbean Islands: is the term Redlegs seen as offensive? Does it evoke a negative connotation or is it something that is now an accepted name for the Irish that still live in the area? Thank you

  65. Jason Warner says:

    Hi all, it’s interesting to read of the ancestry of this community of Bajans, however the tone of the article is both patronising and grounded in the assumption of white privilege.

    The subtext seems to suggest that this community has no right to be poor based on the virtue of their skin colour. There are thousands more rural poor of African descent in Barbados who live under similar conditions. Like in most places on earth their poverty is a result of numerous historical, socio-economic and political factors. It certainly isn’t their race or ethnicity hindering their progression. To suggest this community is any more deserving of sympathy or help is to assume white people should never be poorer than blacks. In a fair and “equal” society it is surely right that race shouldn’t be an automatic signal of ones economic circumstances. In other words “why wouldn’t there be poor whites?”

    • Cecilie campbel says:

      My sentiments exactly, just disapointed that it has not been noted by more contributors. If there is compensation
      It should be for everyone impoverished or in other ways victimized by slavery!

  66. Jedidiah clarke says:

    Hi .I am from Barbados my grandfather”s name was lloyd seals he was a redleg living at Drax hall .I am trying to trace my great grand parents who I believe are from St john or st Joseph .the island is small and throughout the years the Irish and african race have mixed ,in my opinion half of the population here is mix ,so most persons seem related .I would love to find my roots so as to meet some of my relatives living in Ireland and Scotland.

  67. Jedidiah clarke says:

    I love the idea of making a movie and having Rhianna starring.it seem many persons have no idea of the history of the Barbados redlegs.

  68. Barbados 'The Forgotten Irish' Tour says:

    I am also related and can take you on my tours around Barbados

  69. Elijah Mebane says:

    I am kin to Peter mackerness he settled in st.Micheal barbados need help finding his family

  70. Deborah Lawton (Fenty) says:

    What a great article! I’m the descendant of James Fenty who came over to Canada from Scotland. He moved to Glasgow during the potato famine. All the Fenty’s in Canada are related to James Fenty. To our knowledge his great uncle was a merchant sailor who ended up in Barbados. I’d love to know more about our Irish ancestors in Barbados! Such a great story.

    • Ralph Beckles says:

      I am related to the Fentys in Barbados through my father’s paternal side. Historian Dr. Karl Watson mentioned in a facebook post that the earliest Fenty on record in Barbados was residing in St. Philip in the early 18th century. David Dobsons’ book, Barbados and Scotland Link 1627 – 1877, does not include a Fenty among the many Scotish names listed. Some Fentys migrated to USA, Canada and Panama among other places. The Rev. Peter Fenty is Bishop of York (Canada?) is member of the Fenty family from Barbados, as well as Rihanna of international fame. Adrian Fenty, who was Mayor of Washington D.C., is the son of a Fenty born in Panama to parents with Barbadian ancestry. I hope you find this information useful.

    • Pauline Walkom says:

      My Grandmother’s father’s name was CRONEY and Mother’s name FENTY
      I have not seen anything on CRONEY but there does seem to
      be lots on FENTY. Feel free to contact me as I do genealogical research.

  71. Linda Frankenbach says:

    Hi Deborah and Ralph,

    I am also a descendent of the Fentys in Barbados researching my heritage.

    I believe the earliest Fenty born in Barbados was a James Fenty born in 1660 to a father also named James Fenty. Ancestry .com has digitized his birth record (Ralph, Dr Karl Watson is not correct in suggesting the earliest Fentys on record in Barbados were from the early 18th century) I am now trying to establish what year the father Fenty arrived in Barbados and where he came from. Reading history suggests he might have come from Ireland around 1650 (the Cromwell exile period) but that is only a guess. The Fenty name is Scottish in origin and so James Fenty (the elder) could have come from Scotland.I think more likely he was Scots Irish and came form Ireland. And of course more than one Fenty may have moved to Barbados from Ireland or Scotland.

    I think that all the Fentys you mentioned ,Ralph, are related to this original James.

    Deborah, I would love to know more about that merchant seaman Fenty. Could he have been that first Fenty to arrive in Barbados in the 1600’s or did he come later.?

    I am looking for help to figure this all out. If anyone in this chain can help please do let me know.

  72. C Weekes says:

    Informative article. However it some what gives the impression that this population is somewhat discriminatated against and put upon. This is simply not the case. The British populated the island with black and white slaves. It was Black Barbadians who lead the island to independence fifty years ago. However, everyone has an equally opportunity to progress on the island. Education is free, and the island has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.

    Whites Barbadians are a minority group, but do hold the majority of the wealth on the island. Black Barbadians are in all socio-economic levels and the government is mostly made up of black Barbadians.

    Some of this community has mixed for as long as they have been on the island. The most famous off spring, being Rihanna. Some have chosen to stay within their own communities – as is their right. However, their socio-economic status is not down to the fact that they are a white minority. There also poor black Barbadians. All people should be helped, not matter the cold of their skin.

    Barbados is a very small island, and though relatively well developed, it is not a rich country. Whoever you are, and where ever you are in the world, ones progress in the world is down to ones actions.

  73. jado graham says:

    Good Morning? My lineage is of the Graham Clan who were in Barbados after been exile there by the English. If you read these 2 books The Red Legs of Barbados and the Border Reivers ; you would see how they got there. Certain families where sent to Barbados when they feel out of favor with the English royal families. My family the Graham’s and the Hall’s fall into that category but they went to the Virgin Islands after leaving Barbados.So if you want to do more research ;you can research the Virgin Islands, Panama and other countries.

    • g o says:

      Very interesting. There are grahams around that island, but are black, migrating to virgin islands, one wouldn’t know. Any idea were or parish
      The graham name were from?

  74. Liola Loleta Jemmott says:

    Greetings from England! What an interesting articule. I am a Jemmott. My great great grandfather was apparently a white scots man who lost in the cromwell war who was then sent to Barbados. My grandfather describes his father as having ginger hair. He had a nickname for being being a pale skin redhead I cant remember need to ask him. I was always intrigued by my grandfathers stories of his white relatives growing up.
    My grandfather is from St Thomas, welchman gully? My grandmother is a Beckles from St Michael. I am going to do some research very soon! Kind regards

    • Shirley Spycalla says:

      We have a Jemmott family here on Montserrat who may be related to you. Mr Roosevelt Jemmott is the local agent for our island ferry.

  75. jadograham says:

    I forgot to mention another book; it is called ” To hell or to Barbados”. These books are good read, I always love history and mixing it with ancestry makes it more interesting.

  76. Eleni Jousma says:

    Hello and thank you for this marvelous website and the opportunity. I am trying to find any information about a Davis Depias/Depuis? (? not sure of spelling), an 8 years old (white) kid who was sold in the prisons of Barbados in the early 1800s. This happened when the HMS Levante (a British frigate) lost a battle with the USS Constitution on or about 1812-13. The boy was serving on board the Constitution.
    Any help appreciated.

  77. Laura Carey says:


    Hope you don’t mind me writing. This article popped up on my web search as I was searching for information on the Irish being sent to Barbados in the 1600s. I am actively researching my family history and while I’m unlikely to get back as far as the 1600s on my Irish side, my DNA has linked to Virginia and Barbados as well as the Bahamas. My ancestors are from Cork and the family name I’m interested in is Carey. The ancestor that is sticking out in my mind is Michael Carey who was born in the Bahamas in 1832, I know its not Barbados but I thought that that Cromwell’s cleansing may be how he ended up being born there.

    Are there still Carey’s on the islands? I’ve been reading a harrowing book about the transportation from Ireland to Virginia and Barbados and I must say, I was ignorant to it all and I’m only just learning – its ‘To Hell or Barbados’ as others have mentioned above.

    I was fortunate to visit your beautiful island of Barbados on holiday as a teenager – naturally just stunning, wildlife I’d never seen before – Mongoose, giant big brown crabs that you could hear walking and those mischievous monkeys that stole my handbag when I set it down! I hope to come back some day but its not a cheap holiday from Blighty!

    Thanks for reading and any info really appreciated,


  78. I am delighted Ms. Jolley´s informative article and excellent pictures are still generating comment some four years later. I am Irish, I am amazing that so few people, even people of Irish descent even, know of this community.

    In my mind they are the hidden Irish on Barbados, are the last Irish community in the world, who have have not been lifed up and helped by ´their own´, ie Irish born or people of Irish heritage. I hope this changes in the near future. My thanks again Ms. Jolley for this excellent article! Regards, R.C.

  79. We have to be careful when using terms like ‘slavery’ to describe the plight of political prisoners on fixed terms sentences or indentured laborers with fixed term contracts. The following article is a useful corrective and points out the dangers of such claims being linked to White Nationalism and the exoneration of Black Slavery:


    That said, I really enjoyed the article with its strong focus on Family History and Community.

    • Eleni says:

      Well perhaps the terms differ. But that does not change the fact that indeed whites were enslaved and sold at auction, not just in Barbados but in many places all over the world in particular during the long wars with Islam. I do know of a young white boy named Davis Depias? from onboard the USS Constitution who was sold in Barbados.

  80. Mary lally says:

    Having watched a tv program about Irish indentured servants, I found this article online and it is so interesting! I agree that some of the details seem to be incorrect as indentured servitude is different from actual slavery. I am so surprised that these so called ‘redleg’ people are struggling so much to this day. The fact that they have survived and all is a wonder. I think it would be very interesting to have their DNA tested to see if indeed, they still carry their Irish genes so many centuries later. I will be reading more on this subject!

    • KA Fleury says:

      Yes there IS a difference between enslavement and indentured servitude. Enslavement is forced. Indentured servitude is voluntary. Enslavement is permanent, according to the whim of the master. Indentured servitude is completed at the end of a specified period, usually years long (seven years was common, but higher-demand skills put the negotiations in favor of the servant applicant to shorten the term of servitude). Indentured servitude was based on particular skills. Children might be let out to indentured servitude as young as age 4, to be trained to do a particular job, ranging from house servant to farming, but the term of servitude was specified, usually to age 12 or 16, depending on the work the child was trained to do. At age 12, children could be apprenticed out to learn a skilled trade. None of this was the case with the Irish who were exiled following the Monmouth Rebellion. There are extant records that clearly show it was not indentured servitude, but was, in fact, enslavement.

      • TAITT says:

        So I should be able to find some slave laws in Barbados as concerned the Irish “slaves”?

  81. alexandra says:

    this was a very interesting article, thank you for writing it! my maternal great-grandmother was a white woman from barbados, her name was Blanche. this article gives good explanation to how a white woman ended up in barbados and marrying a black man in the 1940s. 🙂

  82. Keith Barry says:

    That first woman looks just like my grandmother.
    The Irish and Irish Americans have immense wealth.
    This is ridiculous. All due to complete ignorance of their existence!
    Where do we send the money?
    Thank you for getting this out there!
    Please email where to send the check.

  83. Jessie Hagan says:

    I would love to know of any items to research the early history of the Irish in Barbados. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. My ancestor was a political prisoner. The O’Hagan’s were closely allied with Hugh O’Neill. As such, my Ancestor Thomas O’Hagan was taken from his family at age 10 in 1655, and forced into servitude in Barbados.
    In 1662 he landed in Maryland, with his master John Meekes who promptly took him into court to “prove” his indenture for an additional two years of service, for bringing him from Barbados to America.
    Fortunately for Thomas, his ship landed in Maryland, instead of their intended Virginia. When John Meekes brought Thomas Howgin before the court to “prove” his indenture, the court ruled that it was illegal for a Master to Covenant with his servant for any longer time than their original indenture.
    The Court ruled that Meekes must immediately grant his freedom to Thomas O’Hagan.
    From these humble beginnings descend many of the Irish Catholic Hagans in America, including myself.
    I hope someday to to visit Barbados and see the area of the Redlegs and to marvel that if not for a twist of fate, their story could be mine.

    • Kate says:

      Could you share any resources you have for Thomas Hagan’s life/history? I am also a descendant (my grandmother was a Hagan)… thanks in advance.

  84. KD Weeks says:

    Fascinating article. I have been trying to find out more about a number of families mentioned here, most specifically Richard Farnum Burgess and his wife Dorothy Greaves who were both born in the late 1700’s and lived well into the 19th century. Their daughter Sarah Jane Burgess is a g-g-grandmother. She and her family emigrated in the 1830’s to Long Island in the US.

    • William Hutchinson says:

      I am working on my wife’s family from Barbados. Edey/Hinkson,,Edey/Burgess,,Hinkson/Proverbs,, Edey/Wharton,,Burgess/Searles,, Hinkson/Saunders,,Proverbs/Marshall,, Edey/White,, Burgess/Greaves,, Hinkson/Gibbs.
      Maybe we can compare notes on the Burgess line. I am always researching and am trying to put all the Burgesses in the rightful places which is probably an impossible task. Never-the-less I keep trying.

      • KD Weeks says:

        I’ve hit a dead end with Richard Farnum Burgess & Dorothy Greaves. I am circling back to this site since a completely unrelated story about Irish slaves in the WI caught my eye. I have a DNA connection with a person with Greaves as a family name, but she hasn’t responded to a hello. I find the Burgess/Greaves connection in your list. Have you come up with anything else?

  85. Damique Wilson says:

    My surname is Wilson , im living in Jamaica and my great grandparent is irish also “wilson” that resided in jamaica in the 1800. Im here reading to find a link to my descendants and how i came about this family name. Where is my origin ?

  86. Mark George says:

    Alot of these people are my family. Though I hardly know any of them. I am descended from the Taylors, Byron Everette Taylor, to be specific, was my grandfather. From the college Savannah area.

  87. Lynette Cox says:

    Very informative….would like to know more about other west Indian island although this is about Barbados…loved the comments that people left.

  88. Andrea Duguid says:

    I must confess, as a Barbadian whose great great grandmother was a Redleg, and whose name was Rebecca Bourne, I know very little about my family history and would love one day to delve deeper into the Ashby and Bourne family tree, on my father’s side of the family. I found this article very interesting and realised after reading it, how little attention is paid to this section of our community which has been around almost as long as the black slaves, and who at the same time has evolved very little. We have been for centuries been divided along racial, self-imposed barriers. I have a number of “white” uncles and aunts who have never recognized me as a relative, because of my mixed, tainted blood, some of whom I have conducted business with on a number of occasions, and who remain either in denial or oblivious to my existence. How much stronger we could be as a people and as a nation, if we opened our eyes and our hearts and saw each other for what we truly are, and not for what our skin colour is. Sad that this community seems lost, forgotten and almost non-existent as far as the wider Barbadian society goes. My brother was so proud of our great great grandmother and our heritage, that he named his last daughter after her, as a form of tribute to her existence and a real part of our heritage. Continue the story. Perhaps others may read and become more aware of what surrounds us.

  89. David Smith says:

    Great piece of work and these people should not be forgotten by Ireland, both governments should step in and provide some basic assistance, like we do in other parts of the world.

  90. Thomas Carty says:

    Im trying to trace relatives CONNELL and DRAKE who we hav stories of settled in Barbados.

    At least one of these, alas, was a “plantation agent” whose family was from an area called MOLLY in LONGFORD, IRELAND.

    I suspect the ARMSTRONG family may have been the connection that brought them out there, as they were in ST Croix. These Armstrongs were from BUNLAHY in Longford, Ireland – one of the better (for Irish) of the Anglo Irish gentry families.


    Reading up on the freeing of the Irish in Maryland and the slavery of the Africans shows everyone was indentured in the beginning. The seven year period was based on old testament rules.

    Africans were then bought, Whites were freed being Christian, for the seven year period. However, the law was challenged, and it soon became that NOT BEING CHRISTIAN the blacks could be enslaved for life.

    Once this was brought in, they then Christianised the Africans, but the slavery for life remained.

    Indentured labourers (as punishment / slavery) was NOT just an IRISH thing, any “enemy of the state” such as Irish,Welsh, Cornish, poor people, rebel English etc., were ALL sold in indentured slavery / labourage.

    • Richard Bond says:

      The Armstrong line in the Armstrongs of St. Croix are from Kileshandra in Cavan. It has been almost 300 years since the first Armstrongs came to St. Croix so there may be a Longford connection in their family tree too. I am from St. Croix and was asked to look up family information by an Armstrong over thirty years ago while working for a genealogical library and museum in Boston.

  91. Mary Colsten says:

    Fascination to read about these resilient people. However, there is a lot of misinformation about “Irish slaves” on the internet. No doubt, the Irish were subjugated by the English, and suffered terribly as a result, in Ireland and in the colonies. Bur there is a fundamental difference between the African slave trade and indentured labour of European prisoners, many of whom were transported voluntarily to buy their passage and freedom.

  92. JanJan says:

    Wow. I never knew about this community in Barbados. Some basic knowledge of transportation and indentureship from school days, sure. But we have never been taught about this group. My great-grandmother was born to an Irishman by the name of William Lynch, and his local black Bajan wife Dorothy nee Briggs (herself mixed race). He was a businessman of some sort, the family property in Dalkeith, St. Michael parish. Born in 1896 my great-gran migrated to Trinidad as a young woman and settled. She lived to 101, healthy robust little lady. My grandmother has some documents, money and jewelry brought over from Ireland. Reading this makes me curious, got to ask to have a look at those items as I confess I know very little about my Irish heritage.

  93. Avell Davis says:

    I’m from Bequia a small island 100 MLS west of Barbados. Our great grand parents came from Barbados. Actually about 4 brothers came from Barbados (Scottish) and populated the village that I live in. Names are, Ernie, feddie,miles and John Davis.

  94. Richard Bond says:

    Actually the High Street store Cave Sheppard you mention was founded by someone from the same community who worked their way up from being a store clerk.

  95. Alphonsus Gerard John Matthews says:

    Hello everyone. Any mention of Matthews being transported from Ireland? take care of everyone.

  96. Julia Walcott says:

    I’ve just seen my cousin in one of the pictures. His name is Norris Wilson. His background is not Irish. Our background is Scottish and Italian.

  97. Olivia says:

    Researching the name ROWE. My great grandmother came to New York between 1906 & 1908 when she was young. She lived with a few other people from the west indies in NY but i was never able to track down our lineage in Barbados.

  98. Joanne says:

    I’m searching for information about my descendants from Barbados their names are Cadogan and Clarke. My great grandmother came from Barbados. My family still talks bajan even now we moved to several other countries. Gra’am moved to Guyana with her siblings and parents. Then they end-up in Surinam/ The Netherlands. I really dont know where and how to start looking for information. My great grandmother was half white. Her mother ( Clarke) left her behind with her father to move with her white siblings to America.

  99. Shirley Connellan says:

    Hi I’m trying to trace the Thomas family, many of whom were christened at Holy Innocents Church.
    My great grandad was Leslie Thomas , his Dad Irvine Thomas, then going further back Mary Elizabeth Thomas, Nelly Sharp Thomas, Moll Thomas and finally her mum was called Patience but no surname found?
    Any help would be brill

    Thx Shirley

  100. Anonymous says:

    Rihanna does have Irish ancestry whether u like it or not!

  101. k mason says:

    anyone know any DOWDY families still living on Montserrat? looking for ancestors, who I believe owned sugar estates

  102. An excellent article:

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