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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century$
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P. J. Marshall and Alaine Low

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205630

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205630.001.0001

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The Formation of Caribbean Plantation Society, 1689–1748

The Formation of Caribbean Plantation Society, 1689–1748

(p.394) 18 The Formation of Caribbean Plantation Society, 1689–1748
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume II: The Eighteenth Century

Richard B. Sheridan

Oxford University Press

Prior to the 19th century, the plantation islands of the Caribbean were the most-valued possessions in the overseas Imperial world. Most valuable by far were the sugar plantations, which ranged from as little as eighty to as much as 2,000 or more acres of land, and from forty to 500 or more slave labourers. By the decade of the 1680s, the sugar planters, especially those of Barbados, were feeling the effects of low prices and rising costs of production. The price decline was the result of an increase in supplies of sugar from Brazil and the English and French Caribbean islands relative to consumer demand in European markets. Old and new problems faced the planters in the thirty-five years from 1714 to 1748. It seems evident that around the middle of the century economic conditions began to improve in Jamaica and in other British Caribbean colonies as output increased while prices, sustained by a buoyant demand in the home market, remained at a higher level than in previous decades.

Keywords:   Caribbean Plantation Society, sugar plantations, British Caribbean, Jamaica, Brazil, French Caribbean

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