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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



(p.255) 6. Manumissions
Jamaica Ladies

Christine Walker

University of North Carolina Press

The final chapter probes the ambivalent and varied intimate connections between free, formerly enslaved, and enslaved people from another angle, investigating women’s manumission practices. Manumission or legal freedom has typically been portrayed as a reward offered by white men to the enslaved women whom they maintained largely coercive sexual relationships with. Focusing on women’s manumission directives tells a different story. Whereas men preferred to manumit their biological children, female slaveholders largely freed other adult women whom they perceived to be intimate companions. Women also displayed an interest in manumitting enslaved children, whom they treated as surrogate kin. Women sought to blend these children into their own families, bestowing money, education, and enslaved people on them. A notable portion of female enslavers bestowed money, property, and slaves on the people whom they manumitted. Their actions had multivalent consequences. On the one hand, women who manumitted captives aggregated the community of free people of African descent on the island. On the other, they used slaveholding to co-opt freed people into Jamaica’s slaveholding system. In a place where liberty and slavery were mutually constitutive, enslaving others became a key means of securing and protecting one’s free status.

Keywords:   Manumissions, Jamaica, Family, Kinship, Free people, Free population, Children, Intimacy, Female slaveowners, Inheritance bequest

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