The Women of Rendezvous

A Transatlantic Story of Family and Slavery

By Jenny Shaw

The Women of Rendezvous

Approx. 280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, 4 figs., 5 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8276-1
    Published: December 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-8275-4
    Published: December 2024

Paperback Available December 2024, but pre-order your copy today!

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The Women of Rendezvous is a dramatic transatlantic story about five women who birthed children by the same prominent Barbados politician and enslaver. Two of the women were his wives, two he enslaved, and one was a servant in his household. All were determined to make their way in a world that vastly and differentially circumscribed their life choices. From a Barbados plantation to the center of England’s empire in London, Hester Tomkyns, Frances Knights, Susannah Mingo, Elizabeth Ashcroft, and Dorothy Spendlove built remarkable lives for themselves and their children in spite of, not because of, the man who linked them together.

Mining seventeenth- and eighteenth-century court records, deeds, wills, church registers, and estate inventories, Jenny Shaw centers the experiences of the women and their children, intertwining the microlevel relationships of family and the macrolevel political machinations of empire to show how white supremacy and racism developed in England and the colonies. Shaw also explores England’s first slave society in North America, provides a glimpse into Black Britain long before the Windrush Generation of the twentieth century, and demonstrates that England itself was a society with slaves in the early modern era.

About the Author

Jenny Shaw is associate professor of history at the University of Alabama.
For more information about Jenny Shaw, visit the Author Page.


"This book is gorgeously written from the very first sentence. Through her impeccable scholarship and creative skill, Shaw turns scattered references to enslaved and free women into a coherent story of early modern women's efforts toward family and freedom."—Sharon Block, author of Colonial Complexions: Race and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century America

"Lucid and beautifully textured, this microhistory of a single family illuminates the ways that slavery shaped empire, in colonies and in the metropolis. The book achieves both rich granular coverage and an impressively transatlantic perspective. I am full of admiration for Shaw’s elegant, impressive, and timely project."—Sarah M. S. Pearsall, author of Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century