Discovering Your South Carolina Roots

The Barbados Connection



You’re probably asking yourself what the island of Barbados has to do with South Carolina. If you’ll continue to read, you will see that Barbados had a great deal to do with how South Carolina developed through the early years.

Barbados was settled by the English in 1627 and become an exceptionally wealthy, sugar controlled economy by the time of South Carolina’s settlement in 1670. Sir John Colleton, who probably led the effort to gain the Carolina charter for eight English noblemen. Anthony Ashley Cooper, later the first earl of Shaftesbury and the leading proprietor in the settling of South Carolina owned a plantation in Barbados was also a leader in helping gain a Carolina charter.

South Carolina’s beginnings are closely linked to the British West Indian colony of Barbados that it has been called a “Colony of a Colony.” South Carolina resemble the West Indies more than any other of the English mainland colonies.

Originally the Lords Proprietors wanted to inhabit their colony with settlers from Barbados and other colonies rather than from England. In 1663 a group of “Barbadian Explorers” attempted to establish a settlement at Cape Fear but four years the Barbadian settlement at Cape Fear was abandoned. In 1669 an expedition from England picked up some Barbadians and made its way to Carolina where they began to settle in the Charleston area. A great deal of the shipping from England during the early years came via Barbados, and a considerable number of Barbadians, both white and black, immigrated to the Carolina lowcountry.

Barbados has a total of 166 square miles of land, and by 1670 a majority of it was tied up in sugar “factories.” While the migration of freemen, indentured servants, and slaves from Barbados was huge only in South Carolina’s early years, the ties between the colonies remained strong. Provisions and barrel poles were among South Carolina’s earliest profitable enterprises and remained a substantial portion of exports even after large rice plantations enriched by slave labor came to dominate the colony after the 1690s

Proprietary South Carolina’s powerful Goose Creek political faction contained Barbadians. Their efforts to circumvent the proprietors’ prohibitions against selling Native Americans into slavery and dealing with pirates plagued the colony’s owners for years. Sir John Yeamans, who abandoned the earlier failed Barbadian settlement at Cape Fear and arranged the murder of his paramour’s husband so that he could marry her, while serving as South Carolina’s third governor from 1672 to 1674, he infuriated Lord Shaftesbury by making profits selling to Barbados provisions that were desperately needed in Carolina. Proprietary South Carolina had two other Barbadian governors: James Colleton, a brother of the man who then held the Colleton family share in the enterprise; and Robert Gibbes, who bribed his way into the governor’s office in 1710.

8 Responses »

  1. Interesting article! The Barbados and Carolina Legacy Foundation notes the historical linkages of which you write. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pardon for my very tardy response – about three months tardy. I have no known family connection to South Carolina. My husband and I are Barbadians and we’ve resided in Charleston, SC since 1978 with our four children who grew up and were schooled in the Lowcountry. Because of my interest and work in Charleston, SC to highlight the Barbados Carolina connection, Barbados made me its Honorary Consul to South Carolina . I founded the Barbados and the Carolina Legacy Foundation in 2012 to facilitate Barbados Carolina collaboration. Website:
    Rhoda Green


    • Hi Rhoda, thanks for your comments. I have thought about visiting Barbados to see if I could locate any graves of my ancestors which were Bellamy but may have been spelled Bellamee when they lived in Barbados.


      • Here again, I’m a bit slow with my response. “Bellamy” is a well-known surname in Barbados. I’m sure if you visit Barbados you’ll find Bellamys buried on the island. I must alert you the Bellamys you’ll find in Barbados today are of African descent. If you’re interested in doing a precursory check, there’s a Barbados Genealogy Facebook page entitled “Barbados Genealogy.” You should visit it. You’ll find a very helpful group of genealogists and would-be genealogists eager to share information. If your ancestors owned a plantation in Barbados, you should visit “Creole Links” on the web where you’ll find a list of plantation owners and plantations on the island. That may be a good start on your search. And if you ever decide to visit Barbados – and you should – please let me know. I’d be happy to provide you with information and probably some assistance in your quest. Rhoda

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I would like to plan a visit to Barbados to do some research. When is the best time of the year weather wise? Also, how many days should I plan on staying?
    The Bellamy name has changed over time, in the 1600’s it was spelled Bellami, than some had it Bellamee, and than to current day Bellamy.

    Thanks for your response.
    Alton Rabon


    • Good evening.

      If you’re looking to avoid the hottest time of year in Barbados, that would be July and August. It’s cooler in Barbados when we’re having winter, spring, and autumn here in the US. During the hottest months in Barbados, if you’re not in the direct sun – let’s say you’re on one of the many beaches, you’ll always feel the gentle sea breezes which are aplenty. The rainy season on the island is when we’re enjoying fall SC.

      When you visit the island, if your main focus is to do research, I’d suggest spending at least a day and a half at the Barbados Archives and maybe another day and a half at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society. It all depends on your success in your research. I see you’re interested in history, so you must set aside some time to explore Barbados Carolina shared history. You shouldn’t visit Barbados without enjoying one of the beautiful beaches for a dip, as Bajans would say.

      Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I could be of further assistance.

      The best to you,




  1. The Barbados Connection | Horry & Marion County Family History

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