1759 - 1820
Genevieve was born into slavery, very likely in Grenada, probably around the year 1759. The first record we have of her is in 1817 when she appears in a slave register as one of 355 people attached to Caliviny, a large sugar estate in the parish of St George. She is recorded as being age 58, Black and Creole. The last record we have of her is in the slave register of 1820 for Caliviny where she is recorded as having died of dropsy at the age of 61. Genevieve could have been one of hundreds of thousands of enslaved people whose presence in the first slave register and death in a subsequent register marks the whole of our knowledge about them, were it not for a separate entry in the slave register of 1817 where she is recorded as also being a slave-owner herself.
The slave register return of John Ross in 1817 “on behalf of Hyacinth and Genevieve, slaves, attached to Caliveny Estate in the parish of St George, of three slaves belonging to them” lists Rosette, age 55, Jeanne, age 25 and Bridget, age 11. After Genevieve’s death, Rosette, Jeanne and Bridget became the sole property of Hyacinth. Jeanne and Bridget were sold to John Ross in 1821 and moved to Ross’s estate, Clarke’s Court, also in St George. Rosette has not been traced; she may have died or been sold separately. John Ross was the attorney for Caliviny Estate as well as the owner of Clarke’s Court; his actions in completing the slave register for Genevieve and purchasing enslaved people from her does not necessarily imply a closer connection.
It’s not known how Hyacinth and Genevieve acquired their human property. Enslaved people were not strictly speaking permitted to own anything – all their belongings were owned in law by the slave-owner. In practice, people could be expected to accumulate some possessions and the wealthiest among the enslaved were able to own perhaps a small farm animal or two. People may have thought of the houses in which they lived and the provision grounds where they grew crops to be nominally their own, but possession could be tenuous and was dependent on the will of the slave-owner. It is exceedingly rare to find any enslaved person owning enslaved people themselves. If George Udny, the absentee owner of Caliviny who lived in Calcutta and was a civil servant in the East India Company, had decided to take ownership of Rosette, Jeanne and Bridget for himself, there was very little Hyacinth and Genevieve could have done about it.
Hyacinth and Genevieve may have received payment for hiring out Rosette, Jeanne and Bridget to Caliviny Estate. The 1817 registration was filed late, and the required annual returns for 1818, 1819 and 1820 were not made, but there are no other indications that these people were owned in unusual circumstances. Hyacinth did not use the proceeds from their sale to pay for his own manumission.
The nature of the relationship between Hyacinth and Genevieve is unrecorded. There were two people called Hyacinth living on Caliviny in 1817, one a black man aged 68 and the other a boy of 13, also black. They both appear in the slave register of 1820, this time listed as Hyacinth 1st and Hyacinth 2nd, and they continued to live in enslavement on Caliviny until 1834 when they are recorded age 30 and 79 respectively. They are two of the 310 enslaved people for whom George Udny’s widow Temperance was awarded £7,972 14s 2d in slave compensation in 1835.
Slave registers: T71/265 166, 231 (1817); T71/273 72, 354, 424 (1820); T71/281 127 (1821); T71/333 66 (1834).
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:
1817 [EA] - → Enslaved