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Children of Uncertain FortuneMixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833$
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Daniel Livesay

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469634432

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469634432.001.0001

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Inheritance, Family, and Mixed-Race Jamaicans, 1700–1761

Inheritance, Family, and Mixed-Race Jamaicans, 1700–1761

(p.20) Chapter 1 Inheritance, Family, and Mixed-Race Jamaicans, 1700–1761
Children of Uncertain Fortune

Daniel Livesay

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter evaluates the evolving legal and cultural standing of elite mixed-race Jamaicans in the first half of the eighteenth century. It describes why so many interracial families formed on the island as well as the legal restrictions imposed on mixed-race people by the colony’s legislature, the Jamaican assembly. In particular, it considers how concerns over the balance between a small white and large enslaved population in Jamaica created security fears as well as demographic anxieties about mixed-race families. However, the chapter shows that elite free people of color carved out legal privileges for themselves by petitioning directly to the assembly. Moreover, the assembly experimented early on with allowing family connections, wealth, and ancestry to put certain mixed-race people into the legal category of “white.” A series of enslaved rebellions in the middle of the eighteenth century named Tacky’s Revolt, along with growing concerns about improper households across the British Empire, resulted in more restrictions against mixed-race Jamaicans generally by 1761. Yet, island rulers still held onto a demographic hope that certain elites of color—namely those who had spent time in Britain—could become the seedbed on which to grow a strong white population.

Keywords:   demography, mixed-race Jamaicans, Jamaica assembly, legal petitioning, Tacky’s Revolt, interracial relationships, illegitimacy

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