Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Legacies of British Slave Ownership - UCL

I attended an interesting workshop this evening

The Project

'At the core of the project is a database containing the identity of all slave-owners in the British Caribbean at the time slavery ended. As the project unfolded, we amassed, analysed and incorporated information about the activities, affiliations and legacies of all the British slave-owners on the database, building the Encyclopedia of British Slave-Owners, which has now been made available online...'

The records of the Slave Compensation Commission, set up to manage the distribution of the £20 million compensation, provide a more or less complete census of slave-ownership in the British Empire in the 1830s. The individuals named in these records form the starting point of the Encyclopedia.

Please note that the records we have concern slave-owners; regrettably, we do not have information on the enslaved themselves.

The registers of the enslaved are held by the National Archives; you can read an account of them on the Moving Here site.

The database is definitely useful, and holds a great deal of information with regards to the wealth amassed from slavery and its political and cultural legacy and impact in Britain.

You can search individuals, Estates, colonies.. feel free to take a look [click]


In 1833 Parliament finally abolished slavery in the British Caribbean, Mauritius and the Cape. The slave trade had been abolished in 1807, but it had taken another 26 years to effect the emancipation of the enslaved. However, in place of slavery the negotiated settlement established a system of apprenticeship, tying the newly freed men and women into another form of unfree labour for fixed terms. It also granted £20 million in compensation, to be paid by British taxpayers to the former slave-owners. That compensation money provided the starting point for our first project. We are now tracking back to 1763 the ownership histories of the 4000 or so estates identified in that project.


  1. I think it is so important to educate people about things like this. It can't be ignored or swept under a rug. We can only do better in the future by learning from the past...

    1. I agree O, you know as we sat there and listened I had this weird feeling for a hot second.,
      I agree also that it's through knowing our past can we understand our present, understanding and compassion really s a must, esp here in Britain as we're such a class based society, we really need to highlight the cultural and political legacy of the slave trade. It was very lucrative, and was the foundation for the industrial revolution, and so much more . Maybe with a greater understanding we'll find humility, justice, and a renewed sense of fairness and equality.

  2. This was eye-opening for me, Dawna! I studied British history a long time ago, but this wasn't in it. Tragically, slavery still exists in our world. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. The team at UCL have, and are doing a great job. I learnt a lot also, and we were given a tour around the database to get a feel for it. There are a few claim records from Montserrat also.

  3. I wonder if humankind will ever understand we are all one - and need to be cherished - instead of used . . . Thank you for sharing . . . it's a hard thing to learn - and important . . . .

    1. I agree Maggid we are.. and it is important ..