The Colony of a Colony? The Establishment of Plantations in Dominica, c. 1730-1763

Author(s): Tessa Murphy

Year: 2017


This paper draws on archival documents held in Dominica, France, and Martinique in order to trace the establishment of a plantation economy that was integral to—yet technically outside the sphere of—French colonial rule in the early modern Americas. Prior to the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, European settlement in Dominica was formally prohibited by a series of treaties. Yet surviving notary and Catholic parish records reveal that in the middle decades of the eighteenth century, a number of families from northern Martinique established mixed subsistence and secondary export plantations in southern Dominica, thereby extending their kinship and commercial networks beyond the boundaries of French rule. These settlements, while illegal, were key to spreading and modifying practices of plantation agriculture, slaveholding, and trade already established in neighboring colonies. Adopting a micro-historical approach, the paper reconstructs the familial, social, and economic networks that linked the French colony of Martinique to the neutral island of Dominica, and argues that the labor of enslaved people in this seemingly peripheral island helped fuel the growth of the French Atlantic economy.

Cite this Record

The Colony of a Colony? The Establishment of Plantations in Dominica, c. 1730-1763. Tessa Murphy. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431070)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14616