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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

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Founded in 1807, in the wake of the abolition of the British slave trade, the African Institution replaced the Society for the Abolition of Slave Trade (1787) and had similar aims to the Sierra Leone Company (1791). Its purpose was to secure African freedom from British imperial rule, the ‘civilization’ of Africa through the dissemination of Christianity, and the establishment of profitable trade ventures that did not rely on slavery.

William Wilberforce, who had led the parliamentary campaign for the abolition of the slave trade, was one of its vice‐presidents. Other prominent abolitionists members of the Institution were Prince William Frederick (president of the Institution), James Stephen, who served as one of its vice‐presidents, Granville Sharp, one of its first directors, Zachary Macaulay, honorary secretary, Henry Thornton, its treasurer, Edward Henry Columbine who became a commissioner of the Institution ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanservant who served and died in Henbury, Bristol. Africanus was the servant of Charles William, Earl of Suffolk and Bindon. The Earl married into the Astry family of Henbury House. Africanus, who was named after an ancient Roman general, was a symbol of their wealth. He, like other servants of African origin who worked in aristocratic homes, was a novelty who, besides doing domestic chores, also functioned as a showpiece for wealthy guests.

In the 18th century thousands of male and female slaves arrived in Britain to become servants of the rich minority They mainly came from the New World rather than directly from Africa The common erroneous belief was that Bristol slavers brought Africans back and kept them chained in the Redcliff caves before shipping them across the Atlantic The truth was that most African slaves were part of the triangular trade being transported from ...

Article

Akitoye  

Jeremy Rich

ologun (king) of the city of Lagos (in present-day Nigeria), was born early in the nineteenth century in the city that he would later rule. His father, Ologun Kuture, reigned over the port from roughly 1780 to around 1803. Akitoye’s elder brothers Adele and Osinlokun battled for power in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Eventually Osinlokun won this struggle. Akitoye only entered the competition for the throne in the 1830s, after the death of Osinlokun and his son and successor Idewu. The latter had no children. When Idewu’s ambitious brother Kosoko tried to seize the crown, his numerous opponents in Lagos sought to find other candidates to prevent Kosoko from taking power. The aging Adele was named ologun but only lived two years Then various family leaders and chiefs selected Adele s son Oluwole to block Kosoko from becoming the king but he only lived ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanslave who arrived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. Details of Asa‐Asa's birth and death are unknown. He was captured from his home in Bycla, near Egie, West Africa, and was eventually placed aboard a French vessel called The Pearl. Owing to severe weather conditions, the ship landed in the port of St Ives, Cornwall. Subsequently, Asa‐Asa and four other shipmates were taken to London. While in England, he wrote the ‘Narrative of Louis Asa‐Asa, a Captured African’ (1831 which details his family background the invasion of the Adinyes or the African slave traders who set fire to his village as they sought to kill torture or capture its inhabitants and his experiences on the ships that eventually led him to England Prior to his arrival he was taken to various places and sold numerous times After six months of journeying ...

Article

John Gilmore

Also known as Sara or Saartjie, and as Bartman (1788?–1815/16), a member of the Khoisan people of southern Africa, exhibited as a ‘freak’ in 19th‐century Britain. Her original name is unknown, but when she was employed by a Dutch farmer called Peter Cezar, she was given the Afrikaans name of Saartjie [Little Sarah] Baartman, and this was later Anglicized in various forms. In 1810 she was brought to Britain by Peter Cezar's brother Hendric [or Henrick], a Boer farmer at the Cape, and Alexander Dunlop, a British army surgeon. Dunlop soon sold his interest in the enterprise to Cezar, who made money by exhibiting Baartman in London and elsewhere in Britain under the name of ‘the Hottentot Venus’. ‘Hottentot’ was a traditional derogatory term for Khoisan people, while ‘Venus’ appears intended to refer to the idea of ‘the Sable Venus or more generally ...

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

James Graham

Privateers operating from the coasts of North Africa. ‘Britons never will be slaves’, proclaimed James Thomson's ‘Rule Britannia’ (1740), but between the early 17th and early 18th century up to 20,000 white, Christian ‘Britons’ experienced capture and servitude at the hands of Barbary corsairs. The corsairs were licensed by the Islamic governments of the Barbary powers, Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunisia, to attack the shipping of Christian countries in the Mediterranean and also as far north as the British and Irish coasts. While the majority of attacks took place at sea, corsairs also ventured into British coastal waters, and nocturnal raids on sleepy fishing villages in south‐west England and the south coast of Ireland were not unknown. In this way over 100 villagers from Baltimore, Ireland, were taken captive by Algerian pirates in 1631.

At one level symptomatic of political tensions between the Islamic regencies of the ...

Article

John Gilmore

Domestic servant to Samuel Johnson. He was born a slave in Jamaica, but his date of birth and original name are unknown. He was brought to England by Richard Bathurst, formerly a planter in Jamaica, who had him baptized and who gave him the name by which he is known. Bathurst sent him for some time to a school at Barton in Teesdale in Yorkshire, and his will (dated 1754) left Barber his freedom and £12.

By this date, probably in 1752, Barber had entered the service of Samuel Johnson, who was a friend of Bathurst's son (also Richard). The exact date, and how old Barber was at the time, are uncertain, but he was probably still a young boy. In 1756 he ran away and worked for about two years for a London apothecary though he returned to visit Johnson regularly during ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

Civil servant and author born in British Guiana (now Guyana). He became postmaster at Victoria‐Belfield in the 1890s, where he organized a black self‐help group with social and agricultural ambitions. He transferred to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) Post Office in 1902. With his wife, Caroline, and five children he settled in Acton, west London. Three more children were born, but five (and their mother) were dead by 1919, and in 1920, in London, he married Edith Goring (who was born in Barbados and had taught in the Gold Coast, 1906–20).

Barbour‐James'sAgricultural and Industrial Possibilities of the Gold Coast was published in London in 1911. In 1917 he retired from the colonial postal service, and he worked with the African Progress Union from 1918 (his friend Kwamina Tandoh was president from 1924 to 1927 accompanied South African delegates to meet the Prime Minister ...

Article

John Gilmore

Politician, born in Jamaica into a family of wealthy plantation owners. Sent to England in 1723, he was educated at Westminster School and Oxford. He later studied medicine at Leiden in Holland, but broke off his course there when the death of his father obliged him to return to Jamaica in 1735. When his elder brother died in 1737, he inherited most of the family properties and continued to add to them by inheritance and purchase over the next 30 years. At the time of his death he was sole owner of thirteen sugar plantations in Jamaica, together with other real estate and about 3,000 slaves.

In 1737William Beckford became a member of the Jamaican House of Assembly, but by 1744 he had left Jamaica for Britain where he settled in London as a West India merchant selling the produce of his own estates ...

Article

John Gilmore

Writer, art collector, and owner of plantations in Jamaica. He was the son of William Beckford, on whose death in 1770 he inherited an enormous fortune. This came under his control when he attained his majority in 1781 and for many years enabled him to travel extensively in Europe, to fund his enthusiasm for building Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire as a Gothic extravaganza to house himself and the books, pictures, and works of art that he collected on a prodigious scale. In the 1790s his income was estimated at well over £100,000 a year, and in 1809 the poet Lord Byron hailed him as ‘England's wealthiest son’. From the 1820s the income from his Jamaican estates declined significantly, and he was forced to sell Fonthill and major parts of his collections. Beckford is remembered as the author of the novel Vathek an Orientalist fantasy published in ...

Article

Philip Herbert

Alias of Thomas Wiggins (1849–1908), famous slave pianist, described by Mark Twain as a musical prodigy. He was born in May 1849 in Columbus, Georgia, being blind, and in today's terms an ‘autistic savant’. The renowned lawyer James N. Bethune bought Wiggins's parents as slaves. Recognizing that Wiggins was a musical genius capable of imitating noises, improvising, and composing at 6, Bethune's daughter Mary taught him to play the piano.

In 1857 Bethune paraded Wiggins's talent across Georgia, meeting rapturous responses. Consequently, Bethune had tours organized by Perry Oliver (concert promoter) earning them $100,000 a year. Wiggins would play European classical music, improvisations, popular ballads, and his own compositions, examples of the last being ‘The Rainstorm’ (1865) and ‘Cyclone Gallop’ (1887).

The Bethune family forced him to tour the South performing to raise funds during the Civil War for the confederacy and its army ...

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

Christopher Campbell

London‐born poet, printer, visionary, and ‘prophet against empire’. Over the course of his lifetime Blake confronted the horrors of slavery through his literary and pictorial art. He was able both to counter pro‐slavery propaganda and to complicate typical abolitionist verse and sentiment with a profound and unique exploration of the effects of enslavement and the varied processes of empire.

Blake's poem ‘The Little Black Boy’ from Songs of Innocence (1789 examines the mind forg d manacles of racial constructions in the minds of individuals both in the poem itself in the form of the black child and his white counterpart and also in the minds of those involved in the political dispute over abolition Seeming to explain a desire for racial acceptance and spiritual purity through assimilation into white British society and seeming also to be endorsing conventional assumptions of white racial superiority the poem ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Orphan from Dahomey (now Benin) reputed to be of royal lineage, who was brought as a slave to England, where she became Queen Victoria's protégée. Sarah was named, ignominiously, after the ship Bonetta on which she was transported to England. Ironically, she was given to Captain Frederick Forbes by King Gezo of Dahomey in a conciliatory gesture following Forbes's unsuccessful attempt to persuade the King to give up trading in slaves. Forbes, in his account of his travels Dahomey and the Dahomens (1851), used Sarah as an example of the potential for progress in the intellect of the African at a time when pseudo‐scientific enlightenment theories of race were rampant: as Forbes noted, ‘it being generally and erroneously supposed that after a certain age the intellect [of the African] becomes impaired and the pursuit of knowledge impossible’.

Sarah was presented to Queen Victoria and thereafter raised under her ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Atlantic slave-trade survivor presented as a gift to Britain's Queen Victoria, was born in the early 1840s in or near the southern Beninese town of Okeadon. Her birth name is not known, but her marriage certificate would list her name as Ina Sarah Forbes Bonetta, perhaps indicating that her original name was Ina. Southern Beninese states had fought for years against the inland kingdom of Dahomey for autonomy, as the slave-trading empire sought to force its southern neighbors to pay tribute and accept Dahomean control over the slaves that were often sold to European and South American merchants. In 1846 Dahomean soldiers seized her and killed her parents during the Okeadon War between Dahomey and its enemies in the Yoruba city of Abeokuta after a traitor had allowed Dahomean troops entry to the town Bonetta was fortunate she did not join the 600 or so town residents ...

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

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Prominent 19th‐century African‐American abolitionist who escaped to England. Brown was born into slavery on a plantation in Richmond, Virginia. After having been forcibly separated from his wife and children, Brown and a white friend, Samuel A. Smith, conceived an ingenious plan for his escape from slavery. In March 1848 Brown hid in a wooden crate supposedly containing dry goods, and had himself shipped via the Adams Express Company to William H. Johnson, an abolitionist sympathizer. Having arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a free state, Brown claimed his freedom and thereafter took the name ‘Box’ as his own. With the help of anti‐slavery friends, he became an abolitionist lecturer and author. In 1849Charles Stearns wrote and published ‘Box’ Brown's narrative of his daring escape. A year later, however, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 fearing possible capture and return to slavery Brown fled instead ...

Article

H.R. Costello

Previously known as Cato, or James Cato (b. 1750), black crewman on Nelson's flagship, the Victory. Brown was originally known as Cato, following the common practice of slave owners of giving slaves Roman or Greek names. Brown is thought to have been a black Loyalist, a slave siding with the British during the American War of Independence. Living in Nova Scotia, he was of mixed parentage, his mother reputed to be a member of the prominent Liverpool merchant Gough family.

Cato left Nova Scotia, running away to sea while still a child, ironically serving on ships involved in the slave trade, and assuming the name James Cato. He later joined the Royal Navy and changed his name again, to James Brown, serving on one of the most famous ships of all time, Nelson's flagship Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 When ...