African Caribbean Traces Family Tree and Finds Roots in Africa
Unanswered questions about his Jamaican history and African roots explains Paul Crooks’ interest in family history and British slave-ownership.
Paul was told that it would be impossible to trace records of slave-ownership let alone his African ancestors enslaved on plantations in Jamaica. “No one had tried because such records did not exist.” In the 1990’s, undeterred, he embarked on a journey of discovery that led from suburban North London to Jamaica and ultimately back to the Gold Coast of Africa; an effort that has brought him international recognition for his breakthroughs in African Caribbean genealogy research.
African Genealogy and Slave-Ownership
By 1999, Paul had uncovered the potential of the National Archives 1817 Slave Registers and the 1834 Slave Compensation registers for researching Caribbean Ancestry and African Roots. Paul’s acclaimed historical novel Ancestors (Arcadia books) provides a narrative on the controversial history of Britain’s transatlantic slave trade, experiences of slaves (from kidnap to working on plantations) and resistance. The Voice newspaper described him as Britain’s answer to “Alex Haley.”
Paul’s revelations preceded a rush to know more about the potential of the slave registers and slave compensation records for family and historical research. This was eventually followed by University College London’s research on the Legacy of British Slave Ownership .
Dedication to researching his family history established Paul as a trailblazing expert in tracing African-Caribbean family history. Subsequent speaking engagements, television appearances (the first series of Who Do You Think You Are?) and national radio interviews led to a renewal of interest among people of African Caribbean descent in learning as much as they could about their family history.
The Guide to Tracing British, African, and Asian Caribbean Ancestry
Paul’s second book A Tree Without Roots (published in 2008) revealed the sources of information to help people trace African Caribbean ancestry and learn about their family history.
Paul Crooks was raised in North West London, England. He attended a local comprehensive school and left at the age of 18 to work for the National Health Service. He attended the University of Birmingham where he gained a Masters in Healthcare Commissioning.