Last time we looked at two individuals whose families made huge fortunes from the ending of slavery when they were compensated for the slaves they had to release:
If you are intrigued by these revelations, then you should go and read the much fuller story here, where the journalists of the Daily Mail have done a splendid investigative job, and uncovered many famous people of today with a hideous skeleton in their cupboard. It really is worth five minutes of your attention. You may well be quite shocked. I was.
The tragedy, of course, is that those individuals today have little, if anything, in common with their slave owner ancestors from so many years ago. On the other hand, they have inherited the wealth. What have they done to make amends? Built a school in the Windward Islands? Built a hospital in Barbados? Sponsored cataract operations in Jamaica?
Back in the nineteenth century, one added advantage for the ex-slave owner was the fact that now the slaves were free, there was no reason for him to provide his new workers with food and, indeed, he might even have been able to charge them rent for their hovel.
And let’s not think either that all the slaves in the plantations were black. I was pretty amazed to find that Irish people, usually so-called fallen women, were transported to Barbados and other West Indian islands:
Let’s finish with a couple of pictures of a memorial in St Mary’s Church in Nottingham. It bears proud witness to a brave young Englishman, Lieutenant James Still, who gave his life in the cause of ending slavery. He was in one of the many Royal Navy warships which blockaded the coast of West Africa to prevent slave ships taking even more of the population away to a life of unhappiness:
Here’s the next bit:
The third bit is in a very dark area indeed, and I have done my best with it. The top two lines, half obscured should read “and who, withering like….” Lower down, a line should start with “That he was characterised…..” and lower still, “How beloved a son…”
And don’t forget that some of those apparent ‘S’ may be ‘F’ :
And this link here is even more fun. There is a website about the British slave trade, and here is the link to the home page
If you click on the words on the right hand side, for example, (“commercial, cultural, historical, imperial, physical, political”) you can see where the slave money was reinvested or who improved their lot in life.
If you go to the search facility, you can even find out how much money the person received.
I live in Nottingham, and when I first moved here, the area I lived in was called “Carrington”. The city’s station is in Carrington Street. Here is the Edwardian shopping centre at one end:
But what is the origin of this? Why Carrington Street? And why was the area where I used to live called “Carrington”?
Was it possibly something to do with Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington ? I couldn’t find a picture of that gentleman but here is his son, the 2nd Baron Carrington:
The 1st Baron Carrington, Robert Smith, used to live at Dulcote Lodge in Nottinghamshire. In the West Indies, he kept 268 slaves. He was paid £4908 eight shillings and five pence by the taxpayer to free them.
I felt quite sick when I read how much money that man eventually accumulated. And who his descendents were.
This, of course, is the answer to the problem:
20 responses to “What do you do with your Freed Slaves ? (6)”
Fascinating, enlightening, research, John
Thank you, Derrick, you are very kind. It’s still sad to see where somebody like George Orwell got his money from, though.
It has always struck me as the most grotesque of injustices that compensation was paid to the owners, not the former slaves.
I agree with you 100%. And how terrible it must be to have no idea whatsoever of where you came from. I traced my ancestors back to the early 18th century in Ticknall and Foremarke. What can my neighbour Olive do? She has grandparents in Jamaica which takes her back to about 1900, but I don’t know what she could do after that. Her ancestors came from another continent and were forced to give up even their names. And the name they were given just emphasises the horror of their fate. I think these descendants of rich slave owners need to start spending their millions on the countries their ancestors exploited.
During his visit to the Caribbean (Jamaica) in September 2015, David Cameron made it clear that there will be no compensation to Caribbean nations for slavery.
See the BBC article: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34401412
I think one of the huge problems is that the legacy remains today.
Yes, it does. I think that blatant racism has become relatively rare in England nowadays but it still exists if you examine the number of non-white people in charge of large companies or even in middle management. Premier League football teams field huge numbers of black players, but how many of them go on to coach or to manage top professional football teams?
A history we often neglect to deeply look into to. Thank you, John.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, if that is the word. The British are happy that they were one of the first countries to abolish slavery but there are still plenty of stones to turn over and some nasty things lurking underneath them.
You should visit the Wilberforce Museum in Hull John which tackles some of the issues that you raised!
Thanks for that. I don’t think that William Wilberforce and a lot of others get anything like the high profile that they deserve. I first came across this particularly unsavoury aspect of the abolition of slavery on a BBC2 programme quite a while ago. Up till then I just thought they assembled the slaves and told them, “OK you lot, you’re all free” I must admit that I hadn’t really though through what happened next, although clearly, not many people had!
Complicated I guess. Just telling them they were free would probably be like telling your 12 year old child to leave home. The Museum explains that Abolition of Slavery introduced all sorts of phased implementation which sort of extended the status quo, rather like some people want with BREXIT!
Quite an education John. Thank you. It must have been a sad and desperate existence.
Yes, it must. On the other hand, I don’t think the standard of living of either the peasants in the country or the dwellers in the towns was particularly high, but they did all know that they were free, to go where they wanted…to America or Australia if they wished,.
It’s sickening that some people made an awful lot of money out of other people’s misery and captivity. Even today slaves exist, it’s just a little less obvious but no less abhorrent. Fabulous research John.
Thank you for your kind words. Last week there was a report on TV of a couple on trial for keeping slaves. They lived in Nottingham about five minutes’ drive from where we live. They had built some kind of shed in the garden for them to live in. The only consolation is that the defendants were not English but Poles and the incidence of modern slavery does seem to coincide for me with the accession of East European countries to the EC. I must stress though, that that is purely anecdotal, and I have never seen any statistics about this. Perhaps our leaving the EC will have some effect on the problem.
Certainly many of the incidents that I’ve heard of are Eastern European or middle eastern in origin. Perhaps now that we are leaving, it may well have a bearing on the matter. Let’s hope so for those poor folk who are being exploited and forced into these conditions.
Even after slavery was abolished, both here and in the US, attitudes still remained. It can take three or four generations for ideas to change. In the US, four generations after abolition, segregation persisted with the full force of law. To full understand the morally corrupting effects of slavery on a society I suggest one reads the accounts of the lynchings in Georgia of Sam Hose (1899) and Mary Turner (1918), that latter being the more appalling for its being in the 20th century and the depravity of the perpetrators.
You are absolutely right. And I don’t think they have got over those effects of slavery even now. And the result of that is that for a lot of people black lives don’t actually matter that much.