Slave Society in the City: Bridgetown, Barbados, 16801834 is one of the first specialised treatments of an Anglophone Caribbean port-town by a contemporary historian. Having adeptly mined the existing archival data and statistics on Bridgetown, Pedro Welch shares with readers these nuggets of information that contribute immensely to our understanding of the way slave societies functioned in the Caribbean.
The book shows how life in the urban slave society departed significantly from that of the rural plantation. There is considerable evidence indicating that slaves and freed persons found and utilised ‘room-to-manoeuvre options’ in that urban context which allowed some of them to amass small fortunes and landholdings, act relatively freely and independently and occasionally be acknowledged almost as the equal of their white counterparts. Several areas of urban social formation are analysed in the study. Demographic issues, trade and commerce, gender issues, social and economic issues in the white enslaved and free coloured communities receive detailed treatment in this volume.
Slave Society in the City is a highly original and substantial work on Caribbean historiography, whose original publication coincided with the 375th anniversary of the founding of Bridgetown, Barbados.