1810 - ????
Coco first appears in the slave registers in 1817, age 7. She was living in a group of 25 enslaved people owned by Ann Sandiford, an elderly widow, in the parish of St Peter, Barbados. Most of the people in the group were domestic servants, likely one of whom was Coco’s mother. Seven of the group were children under the age of 8.
In 1820 Coco was living in the same group, still in St Peter, age 10, and listed with an occupation for the first time, “Grass picker”. She was one of four young children who were working full time weeding fields. There were only two adult field workers in the group; whether they were hired out to other estates or working on Ann Sandiford’s property isn’t clear.
Ann Sandiford died in 1828 and ownership of the enslaved people passed to her brother Lawrence Trent Cumberbatch and nephew Edward Carleton Cumberbatch junior. Both Cumberbatch men owned hundreds of enslaved people and large sugar estates in St Peter. Most of Ann Sandiford’s domestic servants lost their status in the move, being listed as labourers rather than domestics in later slave registers. Coco was one of three who were retained by Lawrence Trench Cumberbatch as domestics and who may have been working in his house in Speightstown.
Lawrence Trent Cumberbatch died in December 1833. In his will, he directed that Coco, along with four enslaved men, be manumitted in England “in consideration of their services and correct conduct towards me.” He also bequeathed to them £10 Barbadian currency each. For the first time, Coco’s surname appears in the records: Sandiford. In a codicil Cumberbatch described her as “my house and maid servant” and granted her the further sum of £50, £10 a year for two years for the rent of a house, an enslaved woman, Sukey, and two infants named John Thomas and Marcus, “for her extraordinary care and attention for and to me in my long and painful illness and confinement.” Sukey was two years younger than Coco and had also been inherited by Cumberbatch on the death of Ann Sandiford in 1828. It’s possible that Coco and Sukey were sisters; certainly they grew up together. Marcus and John Thomas were both about two years old in 1833 and were only three months apart in age so couldn’t have been brothers, but they must have been closely related to Coco. Marcus was listed as “coloured” and may have been Coco’s child with Cumberbatch.
Manumission papers were regularly filed in England as a way of avoiding the manumission fees charged in Barbados. It is unlikely that the paperwork for Coco’s manumission was processed prior to Emancipation. Certainly she was still enslaved at the end of March 1834 when she was listed as a domestic, property of the estate of Cumberbatch in St Peter. At some point between April and July, the ownership of Sukey, Marcus and John Thomas was transferred to her. In 1836 she was awarded £46 12s 1d for the ownership of one domestic enslaved person and two children.
Coco Sandiford married John Graham in St Peter in 1835. Both signed the marriage register by mark. John Graham was a butcher in Speightstown when their daughter Mary Eliza and son Robert were baptised in 1836 and 1843.
Slave registers: T71/522 509 (1817); T71/526 629 (1820); T71/542 333 (1829); T71/563 56 (1834).
Transcription of the will of Lawrence Trent Cumberbatch provided by Ruth Howell.
Familysearch.org, Barbados Church Records, 1637-1887 [database online].
We are grateful to Jane Bambury and Ruth Howell for their assistance with compiling this entry.
Mary Eliza, Robert
£46 12s 1d
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:
1829 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Enslaved
1817 [EA] - 1826 [LA] → Enslaved