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*Tracing Your Roots > Caribbean > One People
* Original Correspondence 
These are volumes and files of letters and reports sent from colonial governors, colonial departments, British government departments, and other organisations and individuals to the Colonial Office, on all matters relating to colonial affairs.

For genealogists original correspondence series contain a wealth of information, for example:

  • colonial civil servant applications forms
  • testimonials for grants of naturalisation
  • petitions
  • inhabitants lists
  • manumission returns
  • militia lists
  • payment for relief following insurrection, invasion, and hurricanes
  • reports and proceedings of local courts, such as chancery, petty sessions and vice-admiralty sessions
  • land grants
  • newspapers
  • accounts of invasions and slave rebellions, etc.
Until 1800 the records are arranged by date of despatch. Between 1801 and 1926 the volumes are arranged firstly by governor's letters, then by other government departments and finally by letters from individuals. After 1926 the correspondence is in subject files.

There are no comprehensive indexes into the records but there are finding aids which will help:

  • Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies, 1574-1739, 40 volumes (HMSO, 1860-1993; published on CD-ROM by Routledge, 2000)
  • Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, 1704-1782, 14 volumes (HMSO, 1920-1938)
  • Selected correspondence is described in LJ Ragatz, A Guide to the Official Correspondence of the Governors of the British West India Colonies with the Secretary of State, 1763-1833 (The Bryan Edwards Press, 1922)
  • CO 326, 1822-1849, registers of correspondence arranged by groups of colonies
  • CO 714, 1815-1870, chronological indexes to governors' correspondence
  • 1849-1951, registers of correspondence, see below
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Creators: Guy Grannum