At times when I am transcribing a document I come across a word or phrase that I do not know or understand, especially in the concept of my current day vernacular. Sometimes there may be a “hidden clue” in that specific word which may or may not provide a “destination” in the scheme of a genealogy search.
In this case, on Page 205 in the 1822 – Richard Oliver Smith Indenture from the Grenada Registers of Records that I have been working and transcribing, in the body of the “Schedule” of Slaves, I came upon the word “Cafre”. In the column “Colour” there is a word describing one “30” year-old “Archy”; it is “Cafre”. It is the only occurrence of this word in all of the associated pages of the “Schedule”. The two other descriptive words used are “Black” and “Mulatto”.
One thing that I have learned over the few years that I have been working on my genealogy and ancestor search is that a word, or phrase, used today may not mean the same thing or have the same implication now as it did when it was used. A very important note to make is to try to “date” the actual use of the word or phrase.
- From Wikipedia - “The word was used in English, Dutch and, later, Afrikaans, from the 16th century to the early 20th century as a general term for several different peoples of southern Africa. In Portuguese the equivalent cafre was used.”
- From Wikipedia - “The ancestors of the cafres were slaves brought from Africa and Madagascar to work the sugar plantations; these were the first slaves to be introduced to the Mascarene Islands. The slaves came from Mozambique, Guinea, Senegal and Madagascar.”
- From 1892 book by Dr. C.A.M. Fennell “The Stanford Dictionary of Anglised Words And Phrases” - “A native of S. Africa living in Cafraria, N.E. of Cape Colony…”
- From the writings of Michal Boyn, a Jesuit missionary to Mozambique… “Cafraria, a P.M. Boym Polono Missa Mozambico 1644 Januario 11”. It appears that at the time Mozambique may have been called “Cafraria”.
- From Wikipedia – “Cafres or Kafs are people born in Réunion of Malagasy and/or African origins. They often have mixed origins."
- From NationMaster - “Comoros” “Ethnic groups (most recent)…” “Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava”
- From CIA World Factbook – “Comoros” “Ethnic groups: Antalote, Cafre, Makoa, Oimatsaha, Sakalava”
It is a word – “Cafre”… and it could be a clue.