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The trade in people:

The slave trade in Africa and the West Indies

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Follow the slave trade from Africa and America to Britain through these records. See who traded in slaves, read accounts of their transportation and learn about the plantations where they were forced to work. Then uncover the philosophies that endorsed or fought against the existence of this trade in people.


The West Indies: slavery, plantations and trade, 1759-1832

Slavery: supporters and abolitionists, 1675-1865


What's Inside

8 Collections:

The West Indies: slavery, plantations and trade, 1759-1832

  •   4 volumes
  •   91 documents
  •   9,122 pages
Jamaican material in the Slebech papers

This collection comprises a careful selection of documents from the extensive Slebech Estate archives now held in the National Library of Wales and the Pembrokeshire Record Office. They relate chiefly to the interests of Nathaniel Phillips, 1756?-1832, in the West Indies. The collection represents a major resource for research into the social and economic history of West Indies, slavery, plantations and trade. Accompanied by an online guide to the collection by Professor Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University. Read less

Slave trade records from Liverpool, 1754-1792

  •   5 volumes
  •   44 documents
  •   2,970 pages
Records relating to the slave trade at the Liverpool Record Office

These primary sources preserved at the Liverpool Record Office constitute one of the best collections in British archives of private merchants' papers relating to the transatlantic slave trade. Liverpool was the leading slave trading port in the world in the eighteenth century when these documents were compiled. Each individual item has a particular focus, but all illuminate the human and financial aspects of the slave trade. The material includes correspondence with ship captains and Caribbean agents about the acquisition of Africans and their sale; statistics on the Liverpool slave trade; sales accounts of the lots of Africans disembarked in the Americas, often with the names of purchasers and prices; information on dealings with diverse African groups along the coast of West Africa; and details of payments for slave sales. The account books of ships' voyages include material on the outfitting of vessels and the cargoes of goods exported to Africa. Among the items included in this collection are records of the wealthy merchant and banker, Thomas Leyland, who was three times Mayor of Liverpool, and letters by the slave trade captain, John Newton, who later became a clergyman, the composer of the hymn 'Amazing Grace', and a prominent abolitionist. These documents are drawn from papers held at the Liverpool Record Office. Accompanied by an online guide to the collection by Professor Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University. (Included as a supplement to the above are the post-abolition papers of captain and ship-owner, James Brown (ca. 1807-1851), which are held with the main collection at the Liverpool Record Office.) Read less

Scottish trade with Africa and the West Indies in the early 18th century, 1694-1709

  •   8 volumes
  •   76 documents
  •   10,219 pages
Papers of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, 1694-1709

The Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, better known as the Darien Company, was created by Act of the Scots Parliament on 26 June 1695, receiving royal assent from King William II of Scotland (William III of England), almost 100 years after the 'Union of the crowns'. The intention was for Scotland set up trading colonies around the globe after the model of other European nations at that time, beginning with a settlement on the Darien Isthmus near present-day Panama. This BRRAM collection includes all the principal manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland on the doomed scheme, and complements the earlier published collection of documents held in the archives of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). While the bulk of these papers date from 1696 through to 1707, including copies of the general journals for the Company, the collection also contains certain miscellaneous documents which antedate by two years the legal incorporation of the Company, and others that span the period of its dissolution up to 1709. The quality and variety of financial documents and in the amount of correspondence are remarkable, the bulk dating from the initial period to 1700, culminating in the return of survivors from the second disastrous expedition to Darien. Among the former category are numerous subscription books, dating from 1696. In addition there are account books, detailed cash books and receipts, trading ledgers and promissory notes, the book of the Company's store & warehouse keeper at the port in Leith, together with lists of goods shipped. The minute books and journals of the principal of the Company's committees also survive. The enterprise was motivated by the desire to invigorate an ailing Scottish economy and, at the same time, to compete with the Honourable East India Company, established in England in 1600. However, the massive debts incurred as a result of the collapse of this initiative in 1699 were perhaps the chief factor which drew Scotland into the 'Act of Union' of 1707. As such, these manuscripts are significant not only to the study of British trade with the Americas in the late 17th century, but also the sweeping political and economic changes that gave rise to the forging of Great Britain. In addition, they provide a detailed and comprehensive, yet manageable, record of the systems and processes by which European colonisation and trade might be spread. Accompanied by an online guide to the collection. Read less

Slave trading records from William Davenport & Co., 1745-1797

  •   2 volumes
  •   31 documents
  •   1,890 pages
The papers of William Davenport & Co., 1745-1797

William Davenport was a Liverpool merchant and British slave trader. From the late 1740s till the early 1790s, he invested regularly in the African slave trade and was a partner in slaving ventures with other leading merchant Liverpool families. These papers from Keele University Library are accompanied by an online guide to the collection by Professor David Richardson, Hull University. Read less

Slavery in Jamaica, records from a family of slave owners, 1686-1860

  •   6 volumes
  •   74 documents
  •   6,139 pages
Papers relating to the Jamaican estates of the Goulburn family of Betchworth House

These documents deal with the history of Amity Hall plantation, a sugar estate in Vere Parish, Jamaica, and some associated properties (principally Bogue livestock pen) while they were in the hands of the Goulburn family. Most of the papers concern these properties when they were administered by Henry Goulburn between 1805, after he had attained his majority, and 1856, when he died, though there are also documents relating to the late seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries. Henry Goulburn was a staunch Anglican and a prominent Tory member of Parliament who was under-secretary in the Colonial Office (1812-21). He never found the time to visit his Jamaican properties but instead oversaw them as an absentee owner. Yet he took a close interest in their economic performance and in efforts to improve the living and working conditions of his slaves as well as their religious instruction. For this reason, the Goulburn papers provide a comprehensive guide to the operation of his Jamaican properties over a period which spans both the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and the subsequent Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which led to the emancipation of all slaves across the British Empire, including the West Indies. Comprising the entire 304/J series, together with two short files relating to the issue of slavery in the general election of 1826 (304/A1/box 22/7 & /box 23/8), from the collections of the Surrey History Centre, Woking, the manuscripts contained here include letterbooks, extensive loose estate correspondence, accounts, some of the title deeds, land conveyances, wills, letters of administration, mortgages, supply lists, expenditure abstracts, lists of the increase and decrease of stock and slaves, monthly journals of the daily employment of slaves, sales accounts for sugar and rum shipped from Jamaica to London and Liverpool, circulars for the improvement of sugar manufacture, and letters relating to antislavery agitation in Britain. The manuscripts throw light on the management of a sugar estate by attorneys on behalf of an absentee owner, on the work undertaken by slaves and apprentices, and on the social, economic and political context of life in the British Caribbean in the nineteenth century. Accompanied by an online guide to the collection by Professor Kenneth Morgan, Brunel University. Read less

American slave trade records and other papers of the Tarleton family, 1678-1838

  •   3 volumes
  •   7 documents
  •   655 pages
American material from the Tarleton papers

The Tarleton family were influential merchants in Liverpool during the 18th century. The main focus of these papers is on their business interests in Britain and the West Indies. Their trade also gave them social standing and influence. One of them became the mayor of Liverpool and another family member considered standing as an MP. Through revealing merchants' social and financial gains from this trade, these papers show how the two combined in Liverpool society. Read less

Antigua, slavery and emancipation in the records of a sugar plantation, 1689-1907

  •   6 volumes
  •   232 documents
  •   25,432 pages
Tudway of Wells Antiguan Estate papers, 1689-1907

The Tudway of Wells papers are the most complete surviving private records pertaining to an Antiguan Sugar plantation; due in no small part to the arms-length nature of the plantation's ownership rendering correspondence between owners and managers essential. A combination of statistical ledgers and narrative correspondence yields quantitative and qualitative information to the researcher. The period covered by these records encompasses the un-phased transition of Antiguan slaves from slavery to waged work. In relation to the history of colonialism there are records of how much was paid for slaves, how much was raised through sales of sugar, details of how the operations of the plantation were managed, work regimes, and a virtually complete set of annual accounts for the Parham Plantation from 1689 to 1920. The correspondence between the Tudway family in Britain and their plantation managers in Antigua includes work regimes, health conditions among labourers, and the management practices of attorneys, managers and overseers. The post-1834 content has received little attention over the years, despite its coverage of the post-emancipation societal transition period and the historical significance of this period in setting and entrenching the cultural paradigm from which an independent Antigua would have to emerge. Derived from the online guide by Dr Kenneth Morgan. Read less

Slavery: supporters and abolitionists, 1675-1865

  •   5 volumes
  •   60 documents
  •   28,202 pages
Slavery: Advocacy & Opposition, 1675-1865

This unique publication unites a range of collections upon slavery for the first time. With a focus upon Jamaica and the West Indies, they also cover tensions in the anti-slavery movement as Christians challenged churches on their acceptance of proceeds from slavery; while transatlantic tensions were exacerbated when British protestors criticised slavery in the fledgling United States. These papers' coverage is mainly focussed upon the eighteenth and nineteenth century, a time period over which abolitionist views would grow in prominence and Government views on the practice would change markedly; from The papers of Samuel Martin, 1694-1776, relating to Antigua to the Ord report on the West Coast of Africa, 1865. The British Government's developing interest in the impact of the slave trade can be seen in both the Report of the Commissioners on African Settlements: report on the slave trade, 1811 and the Report of the Select Committee on the West Coast of Africa, 1842. As the Government's concern about the ethics of slavery grew, the business community had much to gain from resisting any move that could damage their profits. Some of the content included here features records from these businesses of a more general nature such as Lascelles and Maxwell letterbooks, 1739-1769 and Read less

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