Remembering The Windrush Generation

With Windrush Day still fresh in people’s minds, our dedicated West Indies Research Manager Dr. Lisa Hill reflects on some of the interesting cases she has worked on.

“With Windrush Day 2024 having just taken place, I’ve been reflecting on the people I have met and heard about since beginning family history research in the Caribbean. I have spoken with the daughters of a Chief Justice of Jamaica who lived in London as young girls whilst their father trained at Lincoln’s Inn. His daughters are both grandmothers now, and one of them is a painter living in Trinidad.

On another case, we contacted a woman whose sister had died in England and the woman was living in a nursing home. The estate her sister, a retired accountant, had left was not particularly substantial but she was so delighted to receive her inheritance that she spent it on a party for her carers.

Over the years, I have contacted hundreds of people of Caribbean descent who are the siblings or children and grandchildren of the Windrush Generation. The same message is repeated over and over by the people I speak to; they are grateful to know what has happened to their loved one. It’s easy to forget how much harder it was to stay in touch with people prior to the Internet.

Even looking back as recently as the late 1990s, it was very expensive for me to make phone calls home to California. Imagine the difficulty of keeping in touch with someone in England from Jamaica in the 1950s. It would only take one move and one lost letter to lose contact with each other.

My Caribbean research feels like an act of respect and acknowledgment of what the Windrush Generation contributes to Britain. Re-directing their estates from the Government to their nearest relations keeps their specific legacy intact. I know that the work I do changes lives.

In one long running and high value case, the money arrived in Trinidad just after a major storm had caused flooding and devastation to the house of 90-year-old heir. What she received enabled her to repair her home after the flood and install flood doors so she could continue to live independently.

The Windrush Generation came to rebuild Britain. They came to work, and in many instances, to send money home to their families. They came as poets and bus drivers, seamstresses and wedding cake makers, nurses and postmen.

Here at Anglia Research Services, we recognise their contribution to Britain. Our work in the Caribbean is varied ranging from locating missing heir and beneficiaries to intestate estates to identifying Jamaican land ownership.”

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