Notes on a Discussion: Jamaica and Genealogy

Several years ago, I noticed that a number of my AncestryDNA matches had connections to Jamaica. What began as being just a few shared matches has turned into a clear yet previously unknown Jamaican ancestral tie.

To illustrate, one of my AncestryDNA matches and I have 52 other DNA matches that are of Jamaican descent. On average, we are all sharing 20cM of DNA and are at the 4th cousin level. This is just one example.

How many American descendants of slavery have a lineage that runs through the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica? In the same vein, how many people are completely unaware of such a clear and present connection?

From a 2017 article on website, Daina Ramey Berry an Associate Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies, at the University of Texas at Austin states:

“The majority of enslaved Africans went to Brazil, followed by the Caribbean. A significant number of enslaved Africans arrived in the American colonies by way of the Caribbean, where they were “seasoned” and mentored into slave life.”


Slaves first were brought to Virginia in 1619. Subsequently, Africans were transshipped to North America from the Caribbean in increasing numbers.


According to the U.S. National Archives website, “tens of thousands of immigrants migrated from the Caribbean region during the first decades of the twentieth century…”

So, here’s a question.

If someone thinks that they have fairly recent or even distant ancestry in Jamaica, what is the first thing that they should do to learn more?

Stay tuned for a discussion here in The Genealogy Situation Room for the answer to that question and more, courtesy of an expert in Jamaican genealogy and culture, Sydian Hammond.

For now, here’s a preview of our discussion:

Preview: Jamaica and Genealogy

The point of this talk is to state that on our journey of genealogical discovery to the Motherland, perhaps we should stop by Jamaica and the Caribbean islands, too.

There is family there. This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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