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Jamaica LadiesFemale Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain's Atlantic Empire$
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Christine Walker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469658797

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469658797.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Inheritance Bequests

Inheritance Bequests

(p.166) 4. Inheritance Bequests
Jamaica Ladies

Christine Walker

University of North Carolina Press

Drawing on 1,200 colonial wills made between 1670 and 1760, Chapter Four explores the inheritance strategies devised by colonists to cope with Jamaica’s catastrophic mortality rates. Free families divided estates more equitably between male and female heirs and took measures to protect married women’s property, especially in the form of enslaved people. Loosening the gendered practices that governed marriage and inheritance enabled colonists to secure their property, and captive Africans in particular, from one generation to the next. These legal alterations influenced the lives of enslaved people, who were treated as moveable property. Thus, they became a form of gendered currency used by colonial families to support female kin. Cumulatively, colonists’ bequests transferred considerable wealth into women’s hands and deepened their involvement in slavery. Female heirs, in turn, used the fruits of inheritance to purchase more enslaved Africans, further tying the material wealth of colonial families to the Atlantic slave trade.

Keywords:   Inheritance, Bequests, Property transmission, Family, Heirs, Jamaica, Wills, Female, Mortality rate, Atlantic slave trade

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