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Article

John Gilmore

The term can be applied either to the ending of slavery, or to the ending of the slave trade, but in British historical writing the former is more usually referred to as emancipation.

While there are earlier examples of individuals who had doubts about the legality or morality of both the slave trade and slavery, serious public questioning of these institutions only began in Britain in the third quarter of the 18th century, with the attention focused on legal cases such as those of Jonathan Strong and James Somerset (see Somerset case). The first group of people who collectively questioned the legitimacy of the slave trade were the Quakers, who formed a Committee on the Slave Trade in 1783 and were also prominent in the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade also referred to as the Society for the Abolition of the ...

Article

The triangular shipping route of the slave trade largely formed the banking industry in England. British goods such as textiles, arms, and iron were exchanged for slaves in Africa, which were then transported to the West Indies and traded for sugar, tobacco, cotton, spices, and rum. The triangular trade was a system of immense earnings, as every ship sailed with a profitable cargo. The wealth generated by the triangular trade brought increased affluence to the planters who cultivated the West Indian produce, the merchant capitalists who sold the slaves, and the industrial capitalists who produced the British goods, which in turn demanded new banking facilities and functions.

Primary of these new requirements was insurance Shipowners and slave merchants themselves insured early voyages travelling the triangular trade route However the increasing amount of bills drawn against West Indian merchants and accumulated wealth soon required large scale insurance schemes most often drawn ...

Article

Jonathan Morley and Cassandra Adjei

City with historic links to the slave trade. The first guns to be exported to Africa in 1698 were manufactured in Birmingham, renowned for its metalworking; this triggered a growth in the city's industries, and by 1766, 100,000 guns a year were shipped, as well as other tools of the slave trade: manacles, chains, branding irons, thumbscrews, pincers, muzzles, and instruments for prising open the mouths of recalcitrant slaves to make them eat. Cheaply made flintlock muskets, the guns were often dangerous to their users, and contributed to the militarization of the continent: it has been estimated that 20 million went to Africa by 1907.

The city's Lunar Society (a group of freethinkers and radicals) included members who were vehement abolitionists. Thomas Day, from Lichfield, was co‐author with Joseph Bicknell of the poem The Dying Negro (1773 a famous tract that spoke of a ...

Article

Bristol  

Madge Dresser

City in the south‐west of England whose importance to black history is firmly established by its long‐term involvement in the transatlantic slave economy, by its subsequent links to the North American anti‐slavery movement, and by the developments affecting its relatively small black population since the 1960s.

1.Bristol and the ...

Article

Exeter  

Lucy MacKeith

City with a low black population, but a good example of the historical presence of Blacks in areas outside the major port cities, an indication of how omnipresent they were in Britain from the 17th century onwards.

Parish registers provide examples such as the burial on 4 February 1631 at St Mary Major of ‘Thomas, sonne of a Blackamore’; the baptisms on 16 February 1689 at St Stephen's of ‘Mary Negro, black’, on 9 April 1735 of ‘Charles English, negro’, and on 4 December 1778 of ‘Thomas Walker, a black boy’; and the burial on 8 May 1791 of ‘Robert Hill, black, a servant at the Devon and Exeter Hospital’.

A contemporary broadsheet in November 1668 gives details of ‘200 blacks brought from the plantations of the Netherlands in America’, part of the procession led by William of Orange on his way to claim the throne in London. On 22 ...

Article

Glasgow  

Jacqueline Jenkinson

One of Britain's leading trading ports between the 17th and 20th centuries. Links between Glasgow and the black world originated through trade. In the late 17th century the merchant guilds of Glasgow added to its flourishing trade with the colonial tobacco plantations in mainland North America by forging trading connections with the West Indies. The Glasgow West India Association was founded in 1807. The Association spent many of its early years defending the slave trade interest. Glasgow was involved in the slave trade, but to a much smaller degree in comparison to the major slaving ports of Bristol, London, and Liverpool. Trade connections and the slave trade led to the creation of a permanent black presence in Glasgow by the late 18th century as black people arrived, settled, and married. One early black Glaswegian was David Cunningham lawfully born to Anthony a black labourer and ...

Article

British relations with Haiti commence with the ill‐fated 1793 invasion of Saint‐Domingue, when Britain tried—but failed miserably—to wrest the richest colony in the world from French control during the upheavals of its revolutionary war (1791–1803). When Haitian independence was finally proclaimed in 1804, the British government (along with all of the other major powers) refused to recognize the second republic in the Western hemisphere, largely because it was also the first to constitutionally abolish slavery. Haiti's revolutionary foundation initiated a long‐running debate throughout the Atlantic world over how to react to the existence of a black republic at the core of the transatlantic system of slavery that drove the world economy.

In the northern Kingdom of Haiti, Henri Christophe (President, 1806–11, King 1811–20 wished to establish friendly relations with Britain partly as protection against French reconquest He modelled his government on Britain s liberal monarchy ...

Article

John Gilmore

One of the most popular themes in 18th‐century British (and European) literature, the story of Inkle and Yarico became part of the growth of feeling opposed to the slave trade and slavery in the later part of the century.

In his True & Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes (1657), Richard Ligon (c.1590–1662) described meeting there an Amerindian woman called Yarico. He reported how she was originally from the coast of South America, where she had rescued a young Englishman who was in danger from her compatriots, and how in return the young man had taken her to Barbados and sold her as a slave. Ligon's story may have been based on fact, but in 1711 the well‐known Irish writer Richard Steele (1672–1729) published a version that added many fanciful details, giving the young man the name of Thomas Inkle ...

Article

Melinda Elder

Small port on the north‐west coast of England, favourably located to participate in the 18th‐century African slave trade, with clearances at their most prolific between 1750 and 1775 The port s direct trade with the Americas meanwhile largely accounts for Lancaster s historical black presence above all the result ...

Article

H.R. Costello

City in north‐western England which, by the end of the 18th century, had become one of Europe's greatest ports because of its involvement in the slave trade.

1.18th‐century settlers

2.The 1919 riots

3.Black seamen

4.Social and economic disadvantage

Article

London  

S. I. Martin

Capital of the United Kingdom and a historic centre of black political and cultural organization and development.

1.The black population in 2005

2.From Roman to Elizabethan London

3.London and the slave trade

4.Georgian and Victorian London

5.Black organizations

Article

John Gilmore

Clergyman of the Church of England who led what he later considered to be a reprobate youth and worked in the slave trade. It was while on a slaving voyage (1748–9) that he experienced a religious conversion. Nevertheless, he continued to work in the slave trade, and made three more voyages before retiring from the sea in 1754. He became widely known as an evangelical Christian, and was eventually ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1764, serving first in the parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire, and later, from 1780 until his death, at St Mary Woolnoth in London.

At Olney, Newton became a close friend of the poet William Cowper, and together they wrote the collection known as the Olney Hymns. Newton's own contributions include the words to some of the best known hymns in the English language ...

Article

Lucy MacKeith

One of the many ports on Devon's two coasts through which black people passed in and out of all parts of the country. The city has long‐term connections with the history of people of African descent, most of the earlier connections being because of the transatlantic slave trade. The now famous print of the Brookes slave ship used in the abolition campaign was originally produced for the Plymouth Committee for Abolition. The initiator of the British slave trade, Sir John Hawkins, was born in Plymouth, where he has been long recognized as a significant figure. However, the part that Africans and their descendants played in the city's history, directly and indirectly, has not been sufficiently acknowledged.

Early records of the black presence in Plymouth include references to Sir James Bagg, who in 1628 ordered that his newly arrived negrowe should be handsomely clothed and the baptism ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanwriter whose letters, published posthumously in 1782, became best‐seller, attracting 1,181 subscribers including the Prime Minister, Lord North.

Sancho was born on board a slave ship en route to the West Indies. His mother died soon after, of a tropical disease, and his father chose to commit suicide rather than endure slavery. Sancho was brought to England by his master, at the age of 2 or 3, and given to three maiden sisters living in Greenwich. The sisters named him Sancho, thinking he resembled Don Quixote's squire. They kept him in ignorance, not teaching him to read or write. He was rescued by the Duke of Montagu who lived nearby in Blackheath The Duke encountering the boy by accident took a liking to his frankness of manner and frequently took him home where the Duchess introduced him to the world of books and of high culture He ...

Article

Michael Niblett

The black presence in Scotland can be traced back as early as the 16th century. However, it is not until the late 18th and 19th centuries that one finds significant groupings of African, Caribbean, and African‐American peoples in Scotland, and so more detailed records of their activities. These relate in particular to a number of black students in Scottish universities at the time. With the institutions of Oxford and Cambridge then only admitting members of the Church of England, many African and Caribbean people wishing to study in Britain went instead to London or Scotland. In 1998 the Nobel Prizewinning author Toni Morrison, invited by the University of Glasgow to give a reading from her work, is reported to have expressed her pleasure at the offer from what at one time was ‘one of the few places in the world where African‐Americans could gain a higher education’.

Although in ...

Article

James Walvin

The Atlantic slave trade was the enforced transportation of humanity between Africa and the Americas Some 12 million Africans were loaded onto slave ships though a much smaller number arrived at the ships destinations This staggering historical phenomenon is hardly diminished in scale by the global human tragedies of the ...

Article

Slavery  

James Walvin

System of unfree labour in which human beings were claimed to be the absolute property of others, as distinct from, for example, systems of serfdom or indentureship, which theoretically involved claims to ownership of people's labour only, and not to ownership of the people themselves.

1.Background Europe Britain Africa ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishevangelist, co‐founder of Methodism, and celebrated preacher against slavery and the slave trade. Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, and was an enduring challenger of slavery. He was inspired by the Philadelphia Quaker Anthony Benezet'sSome Historical Account of Guinea (1771), which also influenced abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp. In consequence, Wesley produced a pamphlet entitled Thoughts Upon Slavery (1774 which dealt with the dynamics of the slave trade and the viciousness of slavery especially in terms of life on the plantations But even before Benezet and the publication of Wesley s pamphlet Wesley had opposed the slave system on moral human and religious grounds His sermons often evoked questions directed towards the slave traders The main issues raised involved matters of compassion sympathy and empathy for fellow human beings He was also an avid reader of slave accounts and ...

Article

John Gilmore

Politician and campaigner against the slave trade and slavery born into a wealthy merchant family in Hull. His fortune freed him from the need to earn a living and enabled him to enter politics. He became MP for Hull in September 1780, when he was only just of legal age, and he remained in the House of Commons for some 45 years (MP for Hull, 1780–4; for Yorkshire, 1784–1812; for Bramber in Sussex, 1812–25). Wilberforce was a personal friend of William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806; Prime Minister 1783–1801, 1804–6) and of many other leading politicians, but he never sought office and maintained an independent stance. In 1785 Wilberforce had an evangelical conversion experience and, following advice he sought from John Newton and others, determined to devote his life and political career to the service of God. It was only in 1787 ...

Article

John Gilmore

Poet born in Jamaica, the son of John and Dorothy Williams, who were free black people. John Williams was a former slave who had been freed by the will of his master, Colonel John Bourden (a prominent local figure who died in 1697), and who subsequently became a successful merchant, whose activities included moneylending on an extensive scale, and trade between Jamaica and Britain.

As a young man, Francis Williams lived in Britain, possibly for several years, and may have been entrusted with the British end of his father's business concerns. On 8 August 1721 he was admitted as a member of Lincoln s Inn while there is no evidence to suggest that he was ever called to the Bar or practised as a lawyer the Inns of Court often functioned in this period as a sort of finishing school for young men of gentlemanly status who ...