How did black women and women of colour obtain their freedom and come to possess their own slaves? How were these women manumitted? Were they born free…? Probably not. How did they purchase their freedom? Were they somehow granted their freedom by their masters? Were some of these free women of colour, made free through some act of benevolence, by their white fathers? Or did they have to toil and save like every other slave who wanted freedom?

Then once obtaining their own freedom, these women managed to accumulate money to buy slaves of their own. Whether these slaves were close family members, or even their own children, we can only speculate.

As stated before, slaves were a significant measure of wealth. As property, they added to the prestige and social status of their owners. Mortgages and loans could be obtained against the estimated value of slaves. It may well explain why free blacks and free coloureds did not benevolently manumit slaves they owned, if such slaves, were indeed family, or their own children.

In a time when every law and social convention was against blacks and mulattoes, in the Bahamas, how did these women manage to live and survive, just being who they were, in such a harsh patriarchal and dangerous world?

Slavery, in the post-Columbian, New World European colonies, was complicated. There is still so much to understand about how the institution became normalised, especially for blacks, and in particular, black women and women of colour as they themselves bought slaves.


(1) CHARLOTTE DELANCEY, Free Black Woman

Slave Register number 1003: Charlotte Delancey, Free Black Woman, of New Providence registered 6 slaves in 1822.

(Slaves were registered as either African or Creole. African meant first generation slaves born in Africa. Creole meant, second or more generation slave, born outside of Africa.)

SLAVES OF CHARLOTTE DELANCY, Free Black Woman, 1822

1. Charles. Male. One month old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

2. Cataline. Female. 20 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

3. Phoebe. Female. 20 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

4. Sally. Female. 10 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole. (Later noted to be actually 20 years old)

5. Venus. Female. 1 and 1/2 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

6. Suckey. Female. 6 months old. Black. New Providence. Creole.


(2) ROSETTE MINNIS, Free Black Woman

Slave Register number 1005: Rosette Minns, Free Black Woman, of New Providence registered 3 slaves in 1822.

SLAVES OF ROSETTE MINNS 1822

1. Delia. Female. 22 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

2. Cecilia. Female. 11 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

3. Mary. Female. 34 years old. Black. New Providence. African.


(3) JANE HODGE, Free Black Woman

Slave Register number 1009: Jane Hodge, Free Black Woman, of New Providence registered 1 slave in 1822.

SLAVE OF JANE HODGE 1822

1. Elizabeth. Female. 54 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.


(4) FRANCES CHAPOTAIN, Free Woman of Colour

Slave Register number 565: Frances Chapotain, Free Woman of Colour, of New Providence registered 4 slaves in 1822.

SLAVES OF FRANCES CHAPOTAIN, Free woman of colour, 1822

1. Fortune. Male. 18 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

2. Venus. Female. 35 years old. Black. New Providence. African.

3. Sophia. Female. 21 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

4. John Marie. Male. 5 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.


(5) MARGARET LORD, Free Woman of Colour

Slave Register number 568: Margaret Lord, Free Woman of Colour, of New Providence registered 1 slave in 1822.

SLAVE OF MARGARET LORD, Free woman of colour, 1822

1. Jim. Male. 26 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.


(6) SIAN SMITH, Free Woman and Black

Slave Register number 582: Sian Smith, Free Black Woman, of New Providence registered 3 slaves in 1822.

SLAVE OF SIAN SMITH, Free woman and Black, 1822

1. Clarisse. Female. 40 years old. Black. New Providence. African.

2. Molly. Female. 25 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.

3. Charlotte. Female. 14 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.


(7) SARAH WILLIAMSON, Free Black Woman

Slave Register number 605: Sarah Williamson, Free Black Woman, of New Providence registered 2 slaves in 1822.

SLAVE OF SARAH WILLIAMSON, Free Black Woman, 1822

1. Charlotte. Female. 65 years old. Black. New Providence. African.

2. Kate. Female. 11 years old. Black. New Providence. Creole.


(8) ANNETT CUNNINGHAM, Free Black Woman

Slave Register number 639: Annett Cunningham, Free Black Woman, of New Providence registered four slaves in 1822.

SLAVES OF ANNETT CUNNINGHAM, Free Black Woman, 1822

1. Hannah. Female. 35 years old. Black. New Providence. African.

2. Mattone. Female. 40 years old. Black. New Providence. African.

3. August. Male. 40 years old. Black. New Providence. African.

4. John. Male. 40 years old. Mulatto. New Providence. Creole.

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