Trace Your Black Ancestry: The 1834 Slave Compensation Records

Sun, 4 July 2021 19:00 – 20:00 BST

Paul Crooks discusses Britain’s slave compensation records and what they reveal about his ancestry and Black history

In this Black history masterclass, Paul Crooks emboldens calls for reparations when speaking about his search for his African Caribbean ancestors.

In 1833, The British government passed legislation to end its system of enslavement. Britain raised the equivalent of £20 billion to compensate Britain’s slave owners for the ‘loss of human property.’ It was the largest state-sponsored payout in British history before the banking crisis in 2008. Taxpayers’ money went straight into the pockets of people who had already profited from its system of slavery.

Paul will discuss his personal journey to:

  • trace his African ancestors enslaved in Jamaica
  • find evidence of compensation linked to their enslavement on the Cousins Cove Sugar Plantation, prior to emancipation in 1838.

This talk is designed to:

  • deliver insights into how public records can help you explore your ancestry
  • encourage, motivate and inspire you to explore your ancestry and bring your back story to life


The talk is suitable for you if

  • you want to develop your knowledge and understanding of black history
  • you’re new to exploring family history
  • you have some experience of searching for your ancestors and want to know about other sources of information
  • you’ve started and you’re having problems furthering your search

This talk is part of the Ancestry Talks with Paul Crooks’ Season of Empowering Black History.


Links to the one hour online live cast will be provided via an automated email an hour before the event starts.


Paul Crooks pioneered research into African Caribbean genealogy during the 1990s. He is the first to trace his family history from the UK, back 6 generations, to ancestors captured of the West African coast and enslaved on a sugar plantation in Jamaica.

Paul gained national recognition for his work when his acclaimed historical novel Ancestors (based on the true story of the author’s African ancestors) was published in 2002. He appeared on Who Do You Think You Are? (Moira Stuart) as the expert in African Caribbean genealogy. His second book A Tree Without Roots is the authoritative guide to tracing African, British and Asian Caribbean ancestry.

Paul is credited with the emergance of interest in Black and British ancestry. He is also recognised for having spawned an industry in African Caribbean genealogy.


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