Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Law, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2017-11-17 03:20Z by Steven

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833

University of North Carolina Press
January 2018
432 pages
12 halftones, 4 figs., 3 charts, 4 tables, notes, index
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3443-2

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia

By tracing the largely forgotten eighteenth-century migration of elite mixed-race individuals from Jamaica to Great Britain, Children of Uncertain Fortune reinterprets the evolution of British racial ideologies as a matter of negotiating family membership. Using wills, legal petitions, family correspondences, and inheritance lawsuits, Daniel Livesay is the first scholar to follow the hundreds of children born to white planters and Caribbean women of color who crossed the ocean for educational opportunities, professional apprenticeships, marriage prospects, or refuge from colonial prejudices.

The presence of these elite children of color in Britain pushed popular opinion in the British Atlantic world toward narrower conceptions of race and kinship. Members of Parliament, colonial assemblymen, merchant kings, and cultural arbiters–the very people who decided Britain’s colonial policies, debated abolition, passed marital laws, and arbitrated inheritance disputes–rubbed shoulders with these mixed-race Caribbean migrants in parlors and sitting rooms. Upper-class Britons also resented colonial transplants and coveted their inheritances; family intimacy gave way to racial exclusion. By the early nineteenth century, relatives had become strangers.

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Privileging Kinship: Family and Race in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery on 2017-05-12 02:36Z by Steven

Privileging Kinship: Family and Race in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Volume 14, Number 4, Fall 2016
pages 688-711
DOI: 10.1353/eam.2016.0025

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

During the long eighteenth century, elite free people of color in Jamaica petitioned the government for exemptions to some of the island’s laws against those with African ancestry. In making these appeals, they highlighted advanced social and financial positions that put them above the average Jamaican of color. But perhaps most important, these petitions noted familial relations to white men on the island. These kinship connections were central in determining if a free person of color was deserving enough to receive “privileged” rights. In bestowing these privileges, Jamaican officials demonstrated that one’s racial status on the island was determined, in part, by familial linkages to white colonists. Although only a fraction of mixed-race Jamaicans gained these legal exemptions, the practice nevertheless reveals how important family relation was in constructing racial identities, even in a place built on racialized oppression and slavery.

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Marlene Daut

Posted in Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-05-15 01:40Z by Steven

Marlene Daut

New Books Network
2016-04-18

Dan Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California

Marlene Daut tackles the complicated intersection of history and literary legacy in her book Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865 (Liverpool University Press, 2015). She not only describes the immediate political reaction to the Haitian Revolution, but traces how writers, novelists, playwrights, and scholars imposed particular racial assumptions onto that event for decades afterward. Specifically, she identifies a number of recurring tropes that sought to assign intense racial divisions to the Haitian people. Individuals of joint African and European heritage, she contends, received the blunt of these attacks, as they were portrayed as monstrous, vengeful, mendacious, and yet also destined for tragedy. Moreover, observers and chroniclers of the Revolution maintained that these supposed characteristics produced ever-lasting discord with black Haitians. Daut analyzes hundreds of fictional and non-fictional accounts to argue that portrayals of the Haitian Revolution, and of the country itself, have long suffered under these false assumptions of exceptional racial problems. She has also produced a compendium of Haitian fiction during this period, in conjunction with the book. You can find it here.

Listen to the interview (00:49:33) here. Download the interview here.

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Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World

Posted in History, Live Events, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-10-22 15:21Z by Steven

Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World

University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Burney Center
601 S. College Road
Wilmington, North Carolina
Thursday, 2014-10-23, 19:30 EDT (Local Time)

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri

In the eighteenth-century world of slavery and the slave trade, racial prejudices were often stark and unfeeling. Emphasis on racial difference helped slave owners and the wider public justify the systematic abuse of millions of people. Yet, at the individual level, attitudes toward race were incredibly complex. This was especially true for Europeans who had relatives with some amount of African heritage. Throughout the Americas, white men slept with free and enslaved women of color. Typically, these were acts of violence, but in some cases long-term relationships could emerge, with a train of mixed-race children following. In places like the Caribbean, where individuals of color had few educational and professional opportunities, a number of white men sent mixed-race offspring to Britain to live with their families. Britons on the other side of the Atlantic had almost no interaction with individuals of African descent before they were tasked with taking care of family who were simultaneously the descendants of slaves. Subsequently, these families came to understand issues of race as subjects particularly related to kinship. By documenting the experiences of these migrants of color, more light can be shed on modern ideas of race, and the global dislocation of many families. This talk will show that the growing racial complexities at home and abroad can best be analyzed and understood through an historical examination of the family dimension of ideas about race. Notions of racial difference emerged out of debates around family composition and by taking such a perspective, we can deconstruct some of the most enduring and harmful legacies of race-based thinking.

For more information, click here.

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Drury professor honored for research on mixed-race families

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States on 2014-10-16 21:34Z by Steven

Drury professor honored for research on mixed-race families

Springfield News-Leader
Springfield, Missouri
2014-10-12

Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer
Drury University

Dan Livesay, assistant history professor at Drury University, has been named the Sherman Emerging Scholar for 2014. Livesay will travel to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington next week to deliver a public lecture about his research, speak in a graduate class and share his expertise with other scholars.

The Sherman Emerging Scholar award is a national award presented by UNC-Wilmington annually to a promising young scholar. It gives the winner a platform to discuss perspectives, research and approaches to modern issues and theories in history, politics and international affairs.

Livesay’s lecture, titled “Race and the Making of Family in the Atlantic World,” will relate his research about mixed-race families in the 18th century to modern-day debates about race and family in the United States. Growing racial complexities and family belonging were important issues then as now.

“Because I was selected by a committee of historians working on lots of different periods of time and topics, it was very encouraging to discover that my particular research had something of a broad appeal,” Livesay says. “As academics, we can sometimes feel that we are only talking to a very narrow group of people about our research, and so I’m thrilled that I can present it to people from all different walks of life and intellectual interests.”

In total, Livesay spent 10 years researching, writing and revising his work, which is now in the process of being published in book form by UNC Press

Read the entire article here.

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Extended Families: Mixed-Race Children and Scottish Experience, 1770-1820

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Economics, Family/Parenting, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2013-08-28 02:54Z by Steven

Extended Families: Mixed-Race Children and Scottish Experience, 1770-1820

international journal of scottish literature
ISSN: 1751-2808
ISSUE FOUR, SPRING/SUMMER 2008

Daniel A. Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri

Daniel Livesay was winner of the 2007 North American Conference on British Studies Prize, Dissertation Year Fellowship for “Imagining Difference: Mixed-Race Britons and Racial Ideology in the Eighteenth Century Atlantic.”

Three years prior to the ending of the slave trade, Jamaica’s richest and most influential merchant mused on the possible consequences of abolition. Writing to his friend George Hibbert in January of 1804, Simon Taylor offered a stark vision of the British imperial economy without slave importation, echoing scores of other pro-slavery writers who preached the financial doom and gloom of a post-abolitionist society.  Economics, however, were not the only thing on either man’s mind. Hibbert, in a previous letter, had asked Taylor for his thoughts on the future of Jamaica’s white population if fresh supplies of slaves came to a halt.  He wondered if the colony’s whites could farm sugar themselves and if such back-breaking labour would further stifle the increase of the island’s already meager European population. Throwing off his earlier pessimism, Taylor replied with high hopes for the growth of Jamaica’s white residents.  His optimism sprung from a phenomenon he had watched develop over the last two generations: ‘When I returned from England in the year 1760 there were only three Quadroon Women in the Town of Kingston. There are now three hundred, and more of the decent Class of them never will have any commerce with their own Colour, but only with White People. Their progeny is growing whiter and whiter every remove […] from thence a White Generation will come’.  Taylor had seen all other attempts to increase the white population fail and he believed that this process of ‘washing the Blackamoor White’ to be the only way to build an effective racial hedge against an overwhelming black majority on the island.

If miscegenation was the answer to Jamaica’s problems, Simon Taylor could claim to be doing his part for the movement. Indeed, he had earned a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic for his multiracial family. Not long after arriving in Jamaica with her husband, the new Lieutenant-Governor of the island, Lady Maria Nugent visited Simon Taylor in his Golden Grove estate. She commented in her diary that Taylor was ‘an old bachelor’ who ‘detests the society of women’, but she seemed determined to win him over.  However, she could not help but register surprise after an evening at Taylor’s estate when ‘[a] little mulatto girl was sent into the drawing-room to amuse [her]’. Recording the event in her diary, she noted, ‘Mr. T[aylor] appeared very anxious for me to dismiss her, and in the evening, the housekeeper told me she was his own daughter, and that he had a numerous family, some almost on every one of his estates’.  Taylor’s sexual activities with slaves and women of colour were not unusual, nor was his attempt to hide them from European eyes.  Like many white West Indians at the time, Taylor may have given some favours to his children of colour, but he did not treat them as full members of his family.

In contrast to Simon Taylor’s inattention to his mixed-race children, John Tailyour, Simon’s cousin, made a significant attempt to provide for his offspring of colour.  Tailyour originated from Montrose, near Simon’s ancestral home in Borrowfield, and made several unsuccessful attempts at business in the colonies. Forced to abandon his tobacco trade in Virginia at the outbreak of the American Revolution, he returned to North America in 1781, but failed to establish himself in New York’s dry-goods market. Rather than return home to Scotland once again, Tailyour ventured to Jamaica at his cousin Simon’s invitation, where he operated as a merchant from 1783 to 1792. With very few white women on the island from which to choose, Tailyour took up residence with an enslaved woman from his cousin’s plantation. The couple eventually had four children together before Tailyour finally decided to return to Scotland in 1792. Rather than leave his children in Jamaica, however, John Tailyour sent at least three of them to Britain for their education and to be brought up in a trade. His conduct toward his mixed-race offspring stands in sharp relief with that of his cousin’s and reveals the complicated attitudes that whites had toward these children…

Read the entire article here.

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Rather, the Hays were members of a regular migration of mixed-race West Indians who arrived in the home country during the period.

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Excerpts/Quotes, History, United Kingdom on 2013-02-25 00:58Z by Steven

It may seem out of place for three West Indian children, the offspring of an interracial couple, to be living in a small village at Scotland’s northern tip in 1801. Historians tend to think of an Afro-Caribbean presence in Britain as a phenomenon of the last sixty-plus years, and one localized around major urban centers. At the same time, only recently has the topic of inter-racial unions been addressed in the “new” multicultural Britain. The story of the Hay children in Dornoch, however, was not at all unique at the turn of the nineteenth century. Rather, the Hays were members of a regular migration of mixed-race West Indians who arrived in the home country during the period. Facing intense discrimination, few jobs opportunities, and virtually no educational options in the colonies, West Indians of color fled to Britain with their white fathers’ assistance. Once arrived, they encountered myriad responses. While some white relatives accepted them into their homes, others sued to cut them off from the family fortune. Equally, even though a number of fictional and political tracts welcomed their arrival, others condemned their presence and lobbied to ban them from landing on British soil. Regardless of these variable experiences, mixed-race migrants traveled to Britain consistently during the period. The Hay children may have turned heads on the roads of Dornoch, but they would not have been a wholly unfamiliar sight.

Daniel Alan Livesay, “Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-Race Migration from the West Indies to Britain, 1750-1820” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2010).

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Children of Empire: The Fate of Mixed-Race Individuals in British India, the Caribbean, and the Early American Republic

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Live Events, Native Americans/First Nation, Papers/Presentations, United States, Virginia on 2012-11-21 01:35Z by Steven

Children of Empire: The Fate of Mixed-Race Individuals in British India, the Caribbean, and the Early American Republic

127th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association
New Orleans, Louisiana
2013-01-03 through 2013-01-06

AHA Session 105: North American Conference on British Studies
Friday, 2013-01-04, 10:30-12:00 CST (Local Time)
Chamber Ballroom III (Roosevelt New Orleans)

Chair: Kathleen Wilson, Stony Brook University

Papers

Comment: Kathleen Wilson, Stony Brook University

This session will examine the fate of mixed-race individuals in selected places in the English-speaking world from approximately 1775 through 1820. Royce Gildersleeve’s paper focuses on the Virginia government’s efforts to dispossess a group of Gingaskin Indians from their traditional lands on the Eastern Shore. Over time, intermarriage between free black people and the native population had altered the appearance of tribal members. By 1812, the Virginia government maintained that the community was no longer inhabited by Indians but by African Americans who did not deserve title to the land. Daniel Livesay investigates the stories of mixed-race individuals from Jamaica who moved first to Britain and then to British India in an effort to improve their social and economic status. Focusing on the story of three families of color, Livesay explores how British imperialism allowed mixed-race individuals to forge new identities in a new place, but also shows how the hardening of racial ideologies ultimately foreclosed some of the most promising avenues of advancement. Rosemarie Zagarri explores the effects of a migration that proceeded in the opposite direction. Thomas Law, a high-ranking British East India Company official, brought his three illegitimate children, born of an Indian concubine, first to England and then to the young United States. Law hoped that this move would allow his Eurasian children to escape India’s increasingly hostile environment for mixed-race children and secure his sons’ future in what he believed to be a land of unbounded opportunity. Kathleen Wilson, an eminent scholar of the “new” imperial history of Britain, is an ideal commentator for the session.

By focusing on a small group of individuals from a wide geographic expanse, scholars on this panel will directly address the 2013 convention theme, “Lives, Places, Stories.” By concentrating on mixed-race peoples, the panel will complicate our understanding of racial regimes that have been seen in terms of binary oppositions, such black and white, native American and white, Anglo and Indian. The panel will also provide an opportunity for the study of comparative imperialisms. Despite their common British origins, British India, the Caribbean, and the early American republic are seldom examined with reference to one another. Given the relatively flexible character of racial ideology in the mid-eighteenth century, mixed-race individuals from these places could often exploit the ambiguities of their descent to their own advantage. Yet in both British India and the early American republic, the rise of scientific forms of racial ideology in the early nineteenth century diminished their room to maneuver. White Europeans and Americans came to define “race” less in terms of a society’s degree of civilization and economic affluence and more in terms of its members’ skin color and physical characteristics. Nonetheless, the application of these ideas was highly contextual and differed from place to place. By juxtaposing the fate of individuals of mixed-race origins in a variety of English-speaking contexts, this panel will provide new insights into the development of racial identity and the ways in which different imperial regimes imposed shared racial ideologies.

For more information, click here.

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The decline of Jamaica’s interracial households and the fall of the planter class, 1733–1823

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Science on 2012-01-23 02:06Z by Steven

The decline of Jamaica’s interracial households and the fall of the planter class, 1733–1823

Atlantic Studies
Volume 9, Issue 1, (January, 2012)  (Special Issue: Rethinking the Fall of the Planter Class)
pages 107-123
DOI: 10.1080/14788810.2012.637002

Daniel Livesay, Assistant Professor of History
Drury University, Springfield, Missouri

The theory of planter decline traditionally implied that social and sexual chaos in the West Indies produced a middle caste of mixed-race individuals who destabilized colonial life. This article contends that for most of the eighteenth century, interracial relationships were normative unions that did not undercut the central function of the sugar and slave economy. In Jamaica, colonial regulations against free people of color came with individual exemptions that allowed mixed-race elites to skirt the very laws intended to keep them marginalized. Despite differences of color, these personal and familial connections between free coloreds and white fathers helped to maintain strong social hierarchies among the island’s wealthiest ranks. Abolitionist attacks against these family units, however, along with the ever present threat of enslaved revolt, changed conceptions of the Jamaican household at the close of the eighteenth century. Moreover, as Jamaica’s mixed-race population grew and became more endogamous, personal connections to whites dwindled, escalating political conflict on the island. Interracial relationships, therefore, did not herald planter decline, but rather forestalled it.

In the opening chapter of The Fall of the Planter Class, Lowell Ragatz recited a liturgy of social, economic, and cultural issues which had predestined West Indian elites to failure. An outdated agricultural system, regressive economic policies, and political changes brought about by incessant warfare constituted the core of these problems. Ragatz could not ignore, however, the general sense of dissipation and lecherousness frequently associated with Caribbean planters. Echoing many eighteenth-century observers, he viewed island society as backward and unstable:

The white man in tropical America was out of his habitat. Constant association with an inferior subject race blunted his moral fibre and he suffered marked demoralization… Miscegenation, so contrary to Anglo-Saxon nature, resulted in the rapid rise of a race of human hybrids.

Indeed, it was this very “growth of a mixed blood element [that] offered concrete evidence of the Anglo-Saxon’s moral break-down in the torrid zone.” If the avowed goal of island life was to keep blacks separate from whites, then interracial relationships signified a clear disruption in social order.” Cross-racial pairings, according to this retelling, gave an added push to the crumbling pillars of white planter control…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Researcher presents new views on 18th century mixed races and their families

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Slavery, United Kingdom, United States on 2011-06-16 04:07Z by Steven

Researcher presents new views on 18th century mixed races and their families

William & Mary: News & Events
2011-06-15

Andrea Davis

Daniel Livesay, NEH postdoctoral fellow at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture at William & Mary, presented a paper at the University of Texas in February that discussed the mixed children of white men and black women and their impact on British society in the 18th century. The BBC has contacted him to use some of this new information for a documentary it is working on.
 
His paper focused on racial groups traditionally labeled as creoles in colonial Louisiana and mulattos in the Caribbean. Livesay’s dissertation centered on social hierarchies in 18th century Britain and the family ties of mixed children both born in Jamaica and of British descent.
 
According to his paper, “Preparing to Meet the Atlantic Family: Relatives of Color in Eighteenth-Century Britain,” mixed-race children like Edward Thomas Marsh and James Tailyour and their families’ responses signified a time in Britain where society heatedly debated the issue of blacks as inferior.

“During those two decades, debates on the humanity of the slave trade branched into numerous ancillary arguments over skin color, equality, and racial gradation,” he wrote. “The issues of slavery and family overlapped, with observers commenting on the sexual standards of enslaved families, and the demographic implications throughout the Atlantic of an empire with unrestricted connections between races.”

These children faced a serious dilemma. Like the creoles and mulatto, their place in 18th century British society was uncertain. On the one hand, having mothers of color made them slaves by birth; at the same time, their white father’s heritage gave them freedom. Livesay says they stood between the two social placements set out in British and even colonial society. What determined their place was the amount of acceptance they received from their British relatives…

Read the entire article here.

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