Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners

texthistory

This was a two parter on the BBC focusing on the recent discovery in Britain’s National Archive of the complete listings of slave owners who were compensated when slavery was abolished in 1832. The list names an astounding 46,000 both here and abroad, ranging from a single slave to hundreds of them, a total of 300,000.

The program covered the origins of the slave trade and highlighted some of the families who became fabulously wealthy from the luxury goods like sugar, cotton, indigo and tobacco they produced. There were a few surprises in the list, such as the abolitionist MP Richard Godson who claimed to scorn slavery yet who accepted £5,018 in compensation for his own.John Stewart who had a slave mother received £25,000. The smallest payout to an English resident was to Rev Dixon for a single slave, valued at £1/18/10. A surprising number were single women, whose sole…

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4 thoughts on “Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners

  1. I watched the programmes, and they were very interesting. The amount paid out in compensation (at today’s value) was simply staggering, and the widespread ownership of slaves by many ‘ordinary’ people was a revelation.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    • While British television hasn’t been what it was for a long time now, I am missing certain things rather a lot. I hope the documentary will be available to buy and download from iTunes. It’s not possible to watch things on iPlayer if you don’t live there. Having said that, when she stayed, my niece added something that makes it look as if my computer is based in the UK! I haven’t used it because I can’t afford the bandwidth. I watched a Noel Coward 45 minute interview from ’66 yesterday for my latest post on Rogues & Vagabonds and you should have seen the amount that downloaded! Very frustrating.

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      • It was on BBC2 Sarah.
        There have been some good shows on lately. I have enjoyed ‘Odyssey’ on BBC2, and ‘Cordon’, a Belgian thriller on BBC4. There is also a good comedy/drama on C4 called ‘Not Safe For Work.’
        Generally though, you are not missing a lot. It is mostly ‘fly on the wall’, or Hospital/Maternity documentaries, and mawkish sentimentality about finding lost relatives.
        Shame about the Internet over there, nonetheless.

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  2. It is generally and conveniently forgotten how much Britain was involved in slavery. We are not taught such things in school, any more than we are taught of the other shameful episodes of our history or the conditiond dividing the poor from the comfortable… and ‘the poor’ are always spoken of as if living in some rural idyll, or as being so with an implication that they could have done something about it. Sadly, nothing has changed there.

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