January 25, 2018

Santiago Margarida - 8 Years Old Facing Slavery

While digging through records for Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico in search of my own African ancestors, I came across a record at the end of the book that caught my attention. Another baptism, but a baptism of an African child.

I had previously posted about discovering a record of a 10 years old girl from Mandingo. However, this time it was of a child of 8 years of age. The difference is that this 8 years old child was listed as an adult, yes, an adult.

The child is a boy who is from Guinea and is given the name Santiago Margarida on the day he was baptized on June 10, 1821. While I never seen this last name in future Trujillo Alto books, I decided to see if this line still existed, which it does.  There are many Margarida in the San Juan region.  Could this child have survived and continue living in Puerto Rico? I'd love to know but with no access to the church death books for Trujillo Alto, I have no way of confirming if the line continued in this region or if it is the same one that moved away into another municipality.

Santiago Margarida from Guinea baptism entry in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico

As a genealogist, I wanted to do a little more digging to understand how so many children wound up being taken from the homeland. Yes, I knew there was kidnappings but I wanted scenarios of how this happened and I wanted a scholarly source for this post.

In one case study, it was found that approximately 3 million of 12 million Africans that were enslaved were children. As I read the case study, factors that led to children enslaved included men were killed during battles, their women and children were likely to wind up in slavery due to the caravans that followed military expeditions. This was something I didn't factor in as I always went with the path of kidnapping. Sure enough children were found to be placed into slavery by kidnappings while:
  • Working in the fields
  • Walking on the outskirts of towns
  • Grabbed while playing outside and outside of parent's view

In other situations, which I really didn't expect were:
  • Payment of family debt
  • Payment due to crimes committed by their family members
  • Children in poor health
  • Special needs children
  • Children believed to be evil spirits
  • Sold due to famine to make ends meet

Reading some of these situations makes me understand how devalued or of value children were view, depending how you want to view it. How truly sad for many of these children and then to continue their mistreatment with being enslaved if they made it across during Middle Passage.

What is shocking is that only those under 4 feet 4 inches were considered children, the rest were considered adults and locked up with the adults. So could it be that these children identified as adults were tall for their age? We won't know as the children I have found in the records only speaks of their ages and whether they are consider adults like Santiago. Below is a table of children that were taken from Africa.  There is no mention of prior to 1601 as we know that slavery started in the Americas in the early 1500's based on records maintained in Spain's archives.

Point of Embarkation 1601-1700 1701-1800 1801-1867
Africa unspecified   6,701   65,440  125,699
Bight of Benin 39,221   93,216   41,324
Bight of Biafra 16,478   82,021   40,932
Gold Coast 14,602   79,663     2,618
West-central Africa 11,169 145,523   20,092
Senegambia   5,462   26,424     1,668
Sierra Leone     974   24,398   11,512
Windward Coast         0   13,174     1,766
South-east Africa         0     4,202     3,327
Total 94,607 534,061 248,398

Table Data from: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-Rom

Children were at time given preferential treatment on ships but it did not mean that they didn't attain the diseases that seem to take hold on the ships. The fact that these children survived is a miracle onto itself. Most children were considered a bad investment because they were more likely to die from diseases.  They were less like purchased because they could not do the hard labor on plantations like the adults. However, in the 1700's, things changed as children were viewed lasting longer and the trade increased for them, especially with the abolitionist movement taking hold in the Americas.

While I find it quite sad how these children wound up being enslaved, I decided to look up slavery overall on the continent of Africa. I was able to locate a chronological history on University of Colorado Boulder website. Reading threw records and seeing humans being enslaved tends to get
to me as anger begins to boil and my stomach churns. It is why I it is necessary for me to take a break before continuing my research. Please ensure that you check out the resources provided as they provide further information that may be beneficial in your research.


Colleen A. Vasconcellos, "Children in the Slave Trade," in Children and Youth in History, Item #141, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/items/show/141 (accessed January 25, 2018).

Steven Mintz, "Childhood and Transatlantic Slavery," in Children and Youth in History, Item #57, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/items/show/57 (accessed January 25, 2018).

"Slavery in Africa," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000 http://encarta.msn.com accessed from http://autocww.colorado.edu/~toldy2/E64ContentFiles/AfricanHistory/SlaveryInAfrica.html

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-Rom. Edited by David Eltis, Stephen Behrendt, Herbert S. Klein, and David Richardson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Annotated by Colleen A. Vasconcellos.

Desktop:  To see other posts for your island, country, or any other country, click on the menu that appears at the top right of this post. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.

Mobile Devices (Smartphone & Tablets):  To see other posts for your island, country, or any other country, at the top of the page, click on the "Most Recent Post", a popup menu will appear, select an option. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.


  1. Prima, great work! Thank you for posting your search results here. Blessings.

  2. Thank you to for posting. Ever time I read someones research. Faces just cloud my eyes of African people being sold into slavery, and it reminds me of how I got here...
    Thank you, for the post.

  3. Thanks so much for writing this back into history. Really appreciate your work!

    1. Thank you! And yes, we need to get them all back into our history. Thank you for your amazing work too! I've posted your website so that others can find it.

  4. In researching my husbands family, I found a 13 y/o boy (not related) as well. Reading through the records makes my heart hurt and as a mother of 2 teens I cannot imagine what his mother went through when he was ripped from his family. It’s rough reading the records and seeing so many slaves.


Moderation on comments in on; too many spammers. When posting please keep it respectful. Thank you!