The detail within each record varies according to its source but generally the following facts can be found out:
• Name(s) of parents
• Date of birth or baptism
• Place of birth or baptism
Civil registration started rather late in Barbados and was introduced in staggered form. The mandatory official registering of births by the state began in 1890, with deaths following from 1925 and marriages from 1930. In theory if not always in practice, civil registration covers the entire population. The central office, called the Registration Department (RD), is located in Bridgetown. The records are closed and not made available to the public; rather searches will be conducted upon behalf of enquirers by the RD for a statutory fee.
Before civil registration
Our records date from before the period of civil registration in Barbados – i.e. before 1890 for births and baptisms. They are not comprehensive or complete. It is known that there are some large and unfortunate gaps in the records, due to loss of original documents over the course of the island’s history (for instance, old registers for the parishes of St Andrew and St George).
The records come from a hotchpotch of different sources. This is one reason why some individual births or baptisms appear twice within it, and why some records comprise very detailed transcriptions while others are really quite basic index entries with no place information beyond the fact of the event having occurred upon the island. Sometimes the record will link to an image of the original document, which should always be consulted as usually it will give you additional information.
The registers of the Anglican Church predominate in the selection held on Findmypast. These are the records of baptism (as well as marriage and burial) created by the individual Anglican churches throughout the island. There are 11 long-established mother churches, each of which is the centre of an historic parish. You can see the names of these parishes in the Parish field dropdown on the search screen. Within each parish there will today be one or more smaller affiliated daughter churches with different dedications. For example, within the ancient parish of St Lucy, there are additionally the daughter churches of St Clement and St Swithun. Any records for baptisms within the modern-day catchment area of those daughter churches will be found in the records for St Lucy.
From 1855 to the end of our period in 1891, copies of baptism registers had to be submitted by the parish to the Colonial Office to form a central registry. This system is not dissimilar to the bishops’ transcript system used in England, in which the local parish had to copy its registers for the diocese in which it was situated. This meant that two copies of each baptism were created, with each providing a safeguard and fall-back in the event of the loss of the other by natural or manmade disaster.