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PLANTATION LIFE IN THE CARIBBEAN

Part 1: Jamaica, c1765-1848: The Taylor and Vanneck-Arcedekne Papers from Cambridge University Library and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies,
University of London

This project offers excellent archival materials for the study of plantation life and slavery in Jamaica. The Vanneck-Arcedekne Papers from Cambridge University Library provide:

  • The Correspondence and Papers of West Indian Agents covering the period 1765-1848 (especially Simon Taylor, J Shand, Thomas McCornock and William Winton) relating to family estates in Jamaica.
  • Correspondence and Accounts of London Agents concerning Jamaica.
  • Correspondence with John Renwick concerning the management of ships sailing to Jamaica.
  • Pamphlets with observations on plantation life, negro slaves in Jamaica and property in the West Indies.

These are combined with the Taylor Family Papers from the
Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London which include the correspondence and letter books of Simon Taylor (1740-1813), as well as documents by his friends and associates and other family members. The material is excellent for the history of slavery – it contains fascinating detail with many records about the slaves on the plantations, the slave ships and the fight for abolition.

  • The letters cover the Maroon and French wars, slave revolts, the treatment of colonists by the British government, births, deaths, marriages, inheritances, debts and family quarrels.
  • Many documents provide information on Jamaican politics and society.
    Simon Taylor was a member of the Jamaican Assembly (for Kingston, 1763-1781 and for St Thomas in the East, 1784-1810), Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas and Lieutenant Governor of the militia.
  • Shipments of sugar and rum, the condition of the estates, problems of droughts and hurricanes, accomodation for the slaves and business affairs feature throughout the correspondence.
  • Scholars can use this material to trace the career of Simon Taylor, from agent and attorney for absentee planters, to sugar planter and richest proprietor on the island at the time of his death.


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