The Merikins: African-Americans in Trinidad

This article is about the Merikins (African-Americans in Trinidad).



The Merikins were mainly formerly enslaved African-Americans who fought for the British in the War of 1812 that relocated to Trinidad.

These individuals were granted 16 acres of land each in south Trinidad.

Arrival

The initial Merikens arrived in Trinidad on May 27, 1815 (88 on the HMS Levant) and July 5, 1815 (and 58 on the HMS Carron). However, due to unprepared accommodations, they were temporarily settled in Laventille and Caroni. 

By the November 27, 1815 arrival of 65 Merikens, preparations were in place for their accommodation, and land was cleared for distribution to them in the Naparima district of south Trinidad. 

The fourth and largest group of settlers arrived on August 20, 1816 with 411 men. The name of this ship is unknown.

In 1821, 95 settlers arrived from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on the William Schooner.

Settlement and Development

The Merikin settlers were divided into different areas based on the "companies" they had served in the Colonial Marines. 

Governor Woodford strategically located the settlements in south Trinidad for economic advantage and improved communication on the island, as this region was relatively underdeveloped at the time. 

To aid the settlers' transition, they were provided with temporary accommodations, clothing, blankets, tools for constructing houses, and agricultural implements for cultivating their lands. The government also provided daily rations of food for the first six to eight months until the settlers could sustain themselves through their own food crops.

Thrive and Legacy

Over time, the term "Merikins" became an abbreviated version of "Americans," encapsulating their unique identity. This resilient community quickly thrived by cultivating their lands and selling produce to nearby estates.

The legacy of the Merikins remains embedded in Trinidad's history. 

Main References:

http://www.natt.gov.tt/sites/default/files/images/NATT%20Merikin%20Collection%20GuideREV2021.pdf 

https://natt.gov.tt/sites/default/files/pdfs/Celebrating-the-Merikins.pdf

This article was about the Merikins (African-Americans in Trinidad).

By Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. | This content is copyright of West Indian Diplomacy, LLC and may not be reproduced without permission.

She runs West Indian Diplomacy, a Caribbean blog aimed at promoting West Indian history and business in the global marketplace. Melissa has been an attorney for over 10 years. She currently focuses on trademark registration, trademark searches, and office actions. She also has extensive legal experience in the areas of trademarks, copyrights, contracts, and business formations. She owns her own Trademark Law Firm that is virtually based out of Fort Lauderdale.


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