Due to multiple migrations (both forced and voluntary) the scope of ancestral connections within the Afro-Diaspora is very broad and at times unexpected! One country which stands out especially in this regard is Barbados. Of course whenever you have recent family ties to this easternmost Caribbean island you will already know about your Bajan descent. However for many people I imagine that discovering about distant Barbados ancestry will often come as a surprise.
Learning about the various movements of people departing from Barbados and settling in several parts of the Americas will certainly be helpful then for better understanding. This blogpost is just meant as an introduction to this very intriguing topic. Highlighting some insightful resources and implications. The main take-away is that the Barbados Connection is extensive across many parts of the Afro-Diaspora. Not confined to South Carolina or even just North America. But in fact also to be found throughout the Caribbean, Central America and even South America. As they say: Bajans are everywhere!
Genetic Community on Ancestry: strong clue of (recent) Barbados Connection
Figure 1 (click to enlarge)
Source: Ancestry.com. This map shows one of the Genetic Communities on Ancestry. Labeled as “Lesser Antilles African Caribbeans”. But actually often pinpointing shared Barbadian ancestry. This tool is based on matching strength and the family trees of your DNA matches. The yellow dots highlight the extent and frequency of interrelated DNA matches. With a clear focus on Barbados, but otherwise extending from Panama to Suriname. And from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad.
Genetic Group on 23andme: good clue of (recent) Barbados Connection
Figure 2 (click to enlarge)
23andme results for a person from Suriname (see also this page). This Genetic Group feature (formerly known as recent ancestor location) is again based on matching strength. Often quite accurate although the implied ancestral scenarios are not always as straightforward as on Ancestry. So you have to be careful and not jump to conclusions. However this person from Suriname actually knows for a fact she has two great-grandparents from Barbados who migrated to Suriname as contract labourers in the late 1800’s.
Confirmation of your Barbados connection by way of solid genealogical research is of course to be preferred. However DNA testing can also be very beneficial as shown above. Correct interpretation as always being a precondition. Whenever your Bajan link is relatively recent (~up till 1800’s) then this should normally result in a substantial genetic impact. Which will reflect in relatively close DNA matches with persons from Barbados; associated genetic communities/groups and at times also a distinctive African lineage or a distinctive African regional admixture level.1
This last aspect brings me back to the main theme of my blog, Tracing African Roots. Albeit indirectly, by way of analyzing the African origins of Bajans. Especially to what extent the mix of their predominant African origins may deviate (relatively speaking) from other parts of the Afro-Diaspora. And how this may then translate into distinctive regional admixture levels and African DNA matching patterns for anyone with a substantial Barbados Connection. See also my upcoming survey results:
- African DNA matches reported for 30 West Indians on Ancestry (incl. 10 Barbadians, Trinidadians, Guyanese and Surinamese)
Contents of this blog post:
- Extent of the Barbados Diaspora
- Inter-Colonial Slave Trade (1600’s/1700’s)
- Bajan migrations after Emancipation in 1834
- Unique aspects of Barbadian demography
- Early Creolization
- White Barbadians
- The Barbados connection: how does it impact your African lineage?
- Major & distinctive provenance
- Main implications for different parts of the Afro-Diaspora
- Suggested Links