Women, Land Transactions and Peasant Development in Jamaica, 1866–1900

  • Veront M. Satchell


The contribution of women to the socio-economic development of the Caribbean has only fairly recently attracted scholarly attention.1 This is surprising, for during slavery almost half of the slave labour force comprised women while among the freed population a significant number of women owned large landholdings. Consequently women formed a significant group in the development of the plantations, and with emancipation their contributions were by no means diminished. Women continued to own large landed estates and those who were newly freed began acquiring holdings, thus joining the ranks of landed proprietors of their sex as landholders. Women also continued to provide labour on the plantations. It would appear, however, that the predominantly male biases within society have precluded earlier focus on this important group.


Land Settlement Sugar Industry Sugar Estate Large Estate Land Transaction 
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  1. 1.
    See, for example, Hilary Beckles, Natural Rebels: A Social History of Enslaved Black Women in Barbados (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989); Barbara Bush, Slave Women In Caribbean Society 1650–1838 (Kingston: Heinemann 1992); Patricia Mohammed and Catherine Shepherd (eds), Gender In Caribbean Development (Kingston: University of the West Indies and Women and Development Studies Project, 1988); Nesha Haniff, Blaze A Fire: Significant Contributions of Caribbean Women (Toronto: Sister Vision, 1988); Janet Momsen, Women and Change in the Caribbean (London: James Currey, 1993) and Blanca Silvestrini, Women and Resistance: Herstory in Contemporary Caribbean History (Kingston: University of the West Indies, Department of History, 1991).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alvin Bertrand, ‘Land Tenure: Definition and Conceptual Frame of Reference’, in Alvin Bertrand and Floyd Corty (eds), Rural Land Tenure in the United States, A Socio-Economic Approach to Problems and Trends (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1962), p. 7.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Paul Barber, Land Law Note Book (London: Butterworth, 1969), pp. 1, 4; Ernest Dowson and V.L.O Sheppard, Land Registration (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1951), p. 9; Victor Grant, ‘Jamaican Land law’, MA Dissertation, University of London, 1948), pp. 11, 61.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Bryan Edwards, The History Civil and Commercial of the British Colonies in the West Indies (London, 1793), pp. 273–74.Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    Up until 1882, married women were exempted from owning land in their own right; Veront Satchell, ‘From Plots to Plantations. Land Transactions in Jamaica, 1866–1900’ (Kingston: Institute of Social and Economic Research, 1990), pp. 37–39.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Department of History, U.W.I., Mona, Jamaica 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veront M. Satchell

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