Hon. John Black

1753 - 1836


Pioneering British/Irish settler in Trinidad, from a Belfast family (his father George Black was Mayor of Belfast), who became part of the early power structure around Thomas Picton after Britain's seizure of Trinidad from the Spanish in 1797 and formal accession in 1802. He owned the Barataria estate (and the enslaved people on it) until some point between 1819 and 1828.

  1. 'Born in Ulster, John Black left Ireland for the West Indies in 1771 and never returned. Settling first in Grenada, he moved on to Trinidad in 1784 [sic] and established himself as a major slave owner and a prominent figure among the island’s planter elite. An Ulster slave owner in the revolutionary Atlantic presents and contextualizes a series of twenty revealing letters written by John Black during the period 1799 to 1836. Addressed to his brother George, who lived outside Belfast, Black’s letters represent an attempt to maintain familial relationships across the distance of the Atlantic and reveal the close connections tying Ulster to the West Indies during the early nineteenth century. They shed light on the difficulties of mercantile life in an age of political and economic unrest and, above all, offer a vivid portrait of a world that revolved around the institution of slavery – a world of which Ulster was emphatically a part.'

  2. John Black's career in the Caribbean, especially in Trinidad, where he arrived in 1783 [sic] under the cedula during Spanish rule, is set out in some detail in a recent unpublished doctoral thesis by Jennifer McLaren of Macquarie University. It shows him as the partner in Trinidad of Edward Barry as a 'merchant and planter,' and as agents for the slave-traders Baker and Dawson of Liverpool.


  1. Jonathan Jeffrey Wright (ed.) An Ulster slave-owner in the revolutionary Atlantic: The life and letters of John Black (Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2019).

  2. Jennifer A. McLaren, 'Irish Lives in the British Caribbean: Engaging with Empire in the Revolutionary Era', Macquarie University, 2018, pp. 11, 136-156.

Further Information

Bonne Clotilde Matthews née Fournillier
Plantation owner

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1813 [EA] - 1819 [LA] → Joint owner

Relationships (2)

Business partners
Notes →
John Black and Edward Barry were partners as local agents of the Liverpool slave traders Baker and Dawson during Spanish rule in...
Husband → Wife