Colonial Caribbean

CO Files from The National Archives, UK

The definitive collection of primary source documentation to explore life under British colonial rule.

This extensive digital resource covers three centuries of Caribbean history. Drawn from the vast archives of the British Colonial Office, this is simply an essential resource for all students and researchers of the Caribbean and British colonial rule.

This enormous range of unique primary sources covers British governance of 25 islands in the Caribbean from 1624-1872, meeting teaching and research needs across a wide variety of themes, from settlement and colonial rivalries in the region, to the economics of the plantation systems and the impact of slavery, to crime and punishment and the everyday lives of the people that called the islands home.


Watch our webinar

Join Adam Matthew Digital and guest speakers in exploring Britain’s historic connection to its former Caribbean colonies, hosted by CHOICE.

Settlement, Slavery and Empire: British colonial rule in the Caribbean

Watch recording HERE 


Modules include:

Settlement, Slavery, and Empire, 1624-1832 (Publishing 2021)

This first module stretches from the turbulent years of early British settlement to the rise of the abolition movement, amongst the fierce rivalries with the Spanish, Danish and French powers in the Caribbean region. Settlement, Slavery, and Empire, 1624-1832 documents the rise of absentee landlords, and traces the rise and decline of the slave trade, from the regular transportation of enslaved peoples through trade and shipping, to the rise of the abolition movement.

Colonial Government and Abolition, 1833-1849 (Coming soon)

Coming Soon! 

Economic Change and Indentured Labour, 1850-1870 (Coming soon)

Coming Soon! 

Key Data

Key Themes

  • Absentee landlords and estate ownership
  • Crime and punishment
  • Finance and economy
  • Trade and shipping
  • Law and governance
  • Mutiny and piracy
  • Plantation governance, maintenance and labour
  • Religion
  • Slavery, abolition and emancipation
  • Uprisings and revolts
  • War and the military

Material Types

  • Appointments of Governors and Agents
  • Census data and statistics
  • Correspondence
  • Draft bills
  • Land board papers
  • Legislative acts
  • Maps and plans
  • Medical reports
  • Military reports
  • Minutes of meetings
  • Newspapers
  • Ordinances
  • Petitions
  • Proclamations

Colonial Office File Classes

  • CO 7/1-144: Antigua and Montserrat (Original Correspondence)
  • CO 8/1-31: Antigua (Acts)
  • CO 23/1-203: Bahamas (includes Turks and CaicosIslands up to 1848)
  • CO 28/1-213: Barbados
  • CO 37/1-200: Bermuda
  • CO 71/1-141: Dominica
  • CO 101/1-130: Grenada
  • CO 110/1-25: Guadeloupe
  • CO 111/1-382: British Guiana, formerly Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo (OriginalCorrespondence)
  • CO 116/1-239: British Guiana, formerly Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo (Miscellanea)
  • CO 123/142: British Honduras
  • CO 137/1-454: Jamaica
  • CO 152/1-106: Leeward Islands (Original Correspondence)
  • CO 154/1-6: Leeward Islands (Acts)
  • CO 166/1-7: Martinique
  • CO 175/1-20: Montserrat
  • CO 184/1-19: Nevis
  • CO 239/1-123: St Christopher(St. Kitts), Nevis and Anguilla
  • CO 245/1-10: Santo Domingo
  • CO 253/1-147: St. Lucia
  • CO 260/1-113: St. Vincent
  • CO 285/1-88: Tobago
  • CO 295/1-254: Trinidad
  • CO 301/1-56: Turks and Caicos
  • CO 314/1-22: Virgin Islands
  • CO 318/1-260: West Indies
  • WO 1/19-60,404-405:West Indies

Editorial Board

  • Kristen Block, University of Tennessee
  • Heather Cateau, University of the West Indies
  • Christopher Hodson, Brigham Young University
  • David Trotman, York University, CA
  • Nuala Zahedieh, University of Edinburgh

Source Archives

  • The National Archives, UK

Key Features