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“My Reputed Children”: Legacies of Enslavement in Atlantic-Island Wills

Bottomley, Anne (2023) “My Reputed Children”: Legacies of Enslavement in Atlantic-Island Wills. In: Lenon, Suzanne and Monk, Daniel, eds. Inheritance Matters. Bloomsbury, Hart, UK, pp. 55-76. ISBN 978-1-5099-6481-9. E-ISBN 978-1-5099-6482-6. (KAR id:105222)


In the colonial Caribbean, European fathers of children born to African (enslaved or freed) island mothers might choose to acknowledge 'their' children through processes of recognition 'by repute' - evidenced through being named in baptismal records, the use of the paternal family name and, in particular, recognition in wills. Being accepted as 'a reputed child' carried crucial socio-economic benefits, and not infrequently resulted in children being taken to Britain for education and/or re-settlement. This paper focuses on the use of a father's last testament to provide for and control a legacy for his 'reputed children'. It draws attention to the use of children to provide heirs for fathers lacking legitimate ones, exemplifying processes of assimilation which not only asserted the primacy of paternal lineage but also required the erasure of maternal heritage. This paper reflects on the implications of the supressed/forgotten metropolitan legacy of paternal recognition 'by repute', and argues the importance of recovering a maternal (and island) inheritance.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Colonial. Enslaved. Children. Paternal Recognition. Maternal erasure.
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Anne Bottomley
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2024 10:39 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2024 10:39 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bottomley, Anne.

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