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Tracing your family tree in Jamaica

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ImageI recently acquired a very deep interest in trying to trace my family history as far back as possible. Finding out more about my multi-ethnic background made me want to research my roots even more. I’m what you could call “a real man of the world” because my heritage comes from the four corners of the globe. However, the task is proving to be a little harder than I had anticipated especially with the older folks dying or becoming senile and forgetful. This is something I should have started a long time ago but one can’t cry over spilled milk.

My quest began by interviewing those closest to me – my parents. They were able to give me some valuable information, and what they couldn’t remember, my aunts and uncles filled in. I was able to get as far back as my great-grandparents on my mother’s side using this approach.

My next step was the Internet. It is said that you can find almost anything on the internet and that’s a pretty accurate statement. I started by using Yahoo! and Google to search for “family tree Jamaica”. I got some quite dynamic results. The most surprising result, however, was the website provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, www.familysearch.org. That website has quite an extensive database of Jamaicans and I was able to enter multiple searches which returned results that gave me information on my great-great-great grandparents dating back to the early 1800’s. I wasn’t able to find all the family lines though but that’s to be expected.

Geneaology.com hosts a forum that was also of help to me. I was able to connect with cousins around the world who are also on a search for their ancestors and extended family. Those connections sent me in new directions and helped me to expand my family tree even more.

There is another site that contains over 274,300 names of people who lived in Jamaica at some time.  The site contains transcriptions from various documents for 1655 to 1947 (and a few to 1993), including nineteenth century Jamaica Almanacs (which list property owners and civil and military officials), the complete text of "Monumental Inscriptions of the British West Indies" written in 1875 by J. H. Lawrence-Archer, Jamaica Directories for 1878, 1891 and 1910, extractions from Jamaican Church records, Civil Registration and Wills, and excerpts from newspapers, books, and other documents. It includes images, a Glossary, Historical Background, and other Utilities to aid in putting this information into focus. New information is added constantly, thus creating a virtual genealogy library for those researching Jamaican families. Here you will come across people from all walks of life: large landowners and paupers, slave and free, knights, gentlemen, laborers, seamen, soldiers, lawmakers and lawbreakers.This site can be found at www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com.

All the information I’ve collected would, no doubt be confusing, if I didn’t have a program on my computer compiling everything.There is an excellent free Family Tree building software called, MyHeritage Family Tree Builder, that does a really excellent job.  You are able to post a vast amount of information about each individual including birth, death, marriage, citations, important facts, children, parents, siblings, wives, husbands etc.  You are also able to put pictures of each person.  So far, I’ve collected the names of 143 persons which translates to 49 families. I have more research to do but I am quite satisfied with what I’ve accomplished thus far.

Here are some quick links:










The LDC Church has two Family History Centres in Jamaica – one in Mandeville and one in Kingston.

Kingston, Jamaica
48 Gore Terrace,
Kingston, Kingston, Jamaica,
Phone: 876-925-8492

Mandeville, Jamaica
12-19 Sevens Road,
Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica
Phone: 876-902-8427
Attention: Does not have film circulation.

I hope this information will inspire you to build research and build a family tree of your own.

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