Grenada Heritage: Census

Grenada    Census


1860 Census of Slave

French Census

For those interested in Grenada during its two centuries (1650-1783) of French colonisation you will find few records remain. A tiny number, under great threat of destruction, are held in the archives on Grenada. The French Archives Nationales clearly state that Information pertaining to former French colonies is the responsibility of each overseas National Archive. This is because when Grenada was ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris in 1783 the French administrative centre moved Martinique. Thus we find nothing prior to 1764, and a hiatus between 1779 and 1784.

A collection of censuses, land grants, and other documents for the former French colonies which includes some Grenada Census has been microfilmed in 1974. (FHL Collection FHL INTL 719969)

  • Recensements statistiques 1669-1726 (Grenade)
  • Etats des étrangers 1727-1749 (Grenade)

English Census

After 1783 when Grenada became a British colony, the majority of censuses for island were returned to London, England. These were in the form of head counts of varying information, most containing only simple details, like total population, the number of males, females and degrees of freedom. In more detailed censuses the population was broken down into sexes, age group, marital status, degrees of freedom, colour or race. These are to be found among the correspondence of the individual colonies, merely as a list or maybe with a printed demographic analysis.

Any of these census returns which remain in the island’s archives, if listing inhabitants, will be kept closed for 100 years.

Only one early British census for Grenada exists it is from 1772 and is a list of landholders, the number in the household, acreage, negros, types of crops & mills. UK National Archives (PRO reference CO 101/5, ff 147 – 15) [1]

Other records at the UK National Archives that might be of use are Petitions from prominent landowners, tax returns, and electoral registers. The returns for 1747-1873 are to be found 135 volumes of original correspondence and government gazettes for the individual colony. For Grenada census there is only 1763 Capitation Tax Rolls of people liable to pay tax on slaves. (PRO reference CO 101/1, ff 18-3, see also CO 318 and for correspondence after 1874 see CO 321)

Most colonies carried out fairly regular censuses throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Those from English Caribbean colonies taken in 1901 were printed in Parliamentary Papers (1905 session vol xii p1).

A popular misconception is that the records of the English colonies were returned to London, however these were considered domestic records (such as parish, civil registration, and probate records, plus court cases and deeds etc) and therefore were not of the sort of records usually returned to London. Although a quantity of pre-20th century correspondence to the Colonial Office has survived in the London Archives there are no Grenadian censuses for the 19th century. Further anything pertaining to a colony would most likely have beeb returned to the countries on gaining their independence.

Many early maps crudely identify plantation owners by name, and act as census substitutes for the years they were printed (1700, 1758, 1760-1765, 1775, 1779, 1793, 1816, 1823, 1851)   See also Maps.

Early List of officials

  • List of officials at Grenada under French rule, with salaries
  • Extract from capitation rolls of various “quarters”, showing individual tax-payers, with numbers of slaves and live stock belonging to each, amounts of taxes paid, etc. (1763)
  • Naval officer’s lists for Fort Royal, Grenada (March 1762-March 1763)
  • Naval officer’s lists for Grenada, inwards and outwards (20 January 1763-20 January 1764)

Most Eminent Planters List

  • “A List of Names of Sundry Persons to whom Governor Scott granted Town Lots in the Town of St. George on the Island of Grenada”, with amount of each grant. 1766. Many other papers on land grants, including official forms.
  • “A list of the Polls taken for the Assembly to be Convened for the Island of Grenada and the Grenadines the 15th day of December, 1767”, showing, for each parish, names of candidates and number of votes cast for each candidate by “natural born” and “new adopted” subjects.

The original list is kept in Colonial Papers, Vol. XXX, Nos. 42, 42 I., II., III. at the UK National Archives, Kew, England. Abstracts have been published:

1679 Inhabitants and 1680 Census

The original population listing of Grenada (1679-1680) is held by the UK National Archives (reference CO 1/44, no 47 i-xxii); a copy is available at the Grenada Department of Archives. The collection has been microfilmed: FHL Collection 1162149 Item 1

Census after 1834

  • Census Grenada, 1844
  • Coke, Charles Anthony Census of the British empire: compiled from official returns for 1861, [Grenada entries begins on page 234]
  • Johnson, C. H. Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1891 with Graphic Tables and Notes Thereon. St. George’s, Grenada: [Government Printer], 1891.

Census after 1900

  • Patterson, N. J. Report and General Abstracts of the Census of 1901. St. George’s, Grenada: [Government Printer], 1902.
  • Smith, G. W. Report on the 1911 Census of Grenada. St. George’s, Grenada: [Government Printer], 1911
  • Garraway, D. J. Grenada. Report on the 1921 Census of Grenada. St. George’s: [Government Printer], 1921

Slave registers (1817-1834)

Not strictly censuses the slave registers list all slave holders and enslaved people in Grenada. These records of the Slave Registry and Slave Compensation Commission. The slave registers cover the period 1817-1834 and are arranged by parish, they include lists of slaves by owner with such information as name, age, where born, occupation and colour. After the first return most only show increases and decreases on the slave population but show births, deaths, gifts, sales, purchases and manumissions (grants of freedom). For slave owners they can show deaths, marriages and details of family members. Slaves were bequeathed, inherited and gifted to family, on marriage slaves were often given as dowry and the slaves of the wife were transferred to the husband.

The registers were compiled in 1817, 1820, 1823, 1826, 1829, 1831 and 1834. The registers for 1817, 1820 and 1834 list all slave holders and enslaved people the other registers only list changed in the slave population such as births, deaths, purchases, sales and manumissions.

The original compiled in Grenada is not known to survive but the duplicate set is held by the UK National Archives in the series T 71[2]; digitised and indexed copy is available on Ancestry (free on registration).

The Grenada slave registers were established under the following acts:

  • No 163 – An Act for Establishing a Registry of Negro and other Slaves in the Island of Grenada and its Dependencies, published 31 March 1817 (CO 103/11, fos 125-139)
  • No 173 – An Act to amend an Act Entitled An Act for Establishing a Registry of Negro and other Slaves in the Island of Grenada and its Dependencies published 16 November 1818 (CO 103/11, fos 195-199)
  • No 182 – An Act for continuing a Registry of Negro and other Slaves in the Island of Grenada and its Dependencies, published 3 December 1821 (CO 103/11, fos 240-261)



  1. British Public Record Office (PRO) is now called the The National Archives of the UK.
  2. For more information on the slave registers see the National Archives’ wiki
Ric Greaves (Mar 2008)

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