James Barbadoes, who was born in 1796, was a free man of color, barber, and abolitionist. There are not many documents available as to where he was born or his early childhood, but his surname Barbadoes is thought to have come from the Island of Barbados, West Indies.
Barbadoes was considered one of the strongest citizens among free blacks living in Boston during the 19th century. He organized a movement to free his brother who had been kidnapped in New Orleans and jailed as a slave.
Around 1806, Barbadoes married a woman named Rebecca. The couple had a son, who died in infancy, named after William Lloyd Garrison. However their second son, Fredrick G. Barbadoes, survived and became an abolitionist later in his life.
Barbadoes worked closely with William Lloyd Garrison of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and was active at the first People of Color Convention held in Philadelphia. When sentiments arose against both Garrison and the universal reform movement, Barbadoes organized strong support in favor of his colleague’s efforts. He wrote one of the strongest pro-Garrison statements at the time, gathering other free Blacks to sign the petition.
Barbadoes died of malaria in 1841 while attempting to re-settle back in Jamaica.