Search for Slavery on The Black Presence in Britain

Publications on Slavery

slave-trade-walvin-243x300Publications on slavery:

A4 Monographs: Cost between £1 & £6: Courtesy of Marika Sherwood & Nigel Pocock

 Vol. I English Slavers in the Caribbean and Africa: An

historical and psychosocial approach

 Vol. II Slavery, Africa, and Reparations

 Vol. III A Resource Book for the History of Slavery in London

 Vol. IV Where the Money Went: People and places connected with slavery in Bath and Bristol.

 Vol. V The Liverpool boom: People and places connected with slavery in Liverpool

 Vol. VI A Lasting Legacy: The effects of slavery on character and male-female relationships

 Vol. VII Unless Two agree Together: Justice, forgiveness and prosocial behaviour in the context of Caribbean slavery

 Vol. XI Slavery & Trauma: How can the memories be healed?

 Vol. XII Slavery and Evil: Were the planters and slavers responsible, or couldn’t they help themselves?

 Vol. XIII Slavery Factsheet: Essential Statistics of the Caribbean Slave Trade

Hardback : For a Few Guineas More – handmade and bound, with hand-done illustrationsa, signed copies, limited edition £20.00 (one sold at an auction for £95.00!). this volume summaries much f what appears in the various monographs.

 Power and Greed: A database of all the Governors of the Bank of England, Merchant Venturers, Aldermen, MPs in Bristol (1660-1838) and many others in Liverpool and London, showing ssociations with slavery. Available as CD/DVD or diskette.

 Laminated visuals of all aspects of slavery in A3 size are available for sale or free hire.

 A limited supply of original (1843) manillas – currency used to purchase slaves in West Africa, £7.00

Enquiries welcomed.

Vision Training & Research
14/31 Westwood Hill, Sydenham,
London SE26 6NU
( 020 8778 4407 :

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Mary Prince A Slave

Mary Prince  - BookMary Prince (1788-1833) was a Bermudian woman, born into slavery in Bermuda. The published story of her slavery was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in England and the book had a galvanizing effect on the anti-slavery movement.Mary Prince (1788-1833) was a Bermudian woman, born into slavery in Brackish Pond, which is now known as Devonshire Marsh, in Devonshire Parish, Bermuda. The published story of her slavery was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in England and the book had a galvanizing effect on the anti-slavery movement.

The parents of Mary Prince were both slaves: her father was a sawyer owned by David Trimmingham, and her mother a house-servant of Charles Myners. When Myners died in 1788, Prince and her mother were sold as household servants to Captain Darrell, who gave Prince to his granddaughter, Betsey Williams.

When she was 12, Prince was sold again to Captain John Ingham, of Spanish Point, but never took easily to the indignities of her enslavement and she was often flogged. As a punishment, Prince was sold to another Bermudian, probably Robert Darrell, who sent her in 1806 to Grand Turks, which Bermudians had used seasonally for a century for the extraction of salt from the ocean.

Salt was a pillar of the Bermudian economy, but could not easily be produced in Bermuda, where the only natural resource were the Bermuda cedars used for building ships. The industry was a cruel one, however, with the salt rakers forced to endure exposure not only to the sun and heat, but also to the salt in the pans, which ate away at their uncovered legs.

Mary returned to Bermuda in 1810, but was sold to John Wood in 1818, and sent to Antigua to be a domestic slave. She joined the Moravian Church and, in December 1826, she married Daniel James, a former slave who had bought his freedom and worked as a carpenter and cooper. For this impudence, she was severely beaten by her master.

Mary Price in London

In 1828, Wood took her as a servant to London. Although slavery was illegal in Britain, she had no means to support herself, and could not have returned to her husband without being re-enslaved. She remained with Wood until they threw her out. She took shelter with the Moravian church in Hatton Garden. Within a few weeks, she had taken employment with Thomas Pringle, an abolitionist writer, and Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society.

Pringle arranged for her narrative to be copied down by Susanna Strickland and it was published in 1831 as the “The History of Mary Prince”, the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in England.

The book had a galvanizing effect on the anti-slavery movement. Scandalised by its account, John Wood sued the publishers for libel, but his case failed. Subsequent attempts were made to tarnish Mary Prince’s reputation, particularly by James MacQueen and James Curtin, both supporters of slavery. In turn, she and her publisher sued for libel, which suit they won.

Prince remained in England until about 1833.

Related Websites

The History of Mary Prince A West Indian Slave Related By Herself. – eBook


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Books about Black British History

Black History BooksA reading list of books related to the ongoing Black presence in Britain, Slavery, colonialism and black Settlement in the U.K
The list is by no means exhaustive!

Books about Black British History

  • Staying Power-The History of Black people in Britain by Peter Fryer
    (Pluto Press 1984)
  • Black England-Life before Emancipation by Gretchen Gerzina
    (John Murray,1995)
  • Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958 by Nigel File and chris Power
    (Heinemann,1981; reprinted 1995)
  • Black Edwardians-Black people in Britain 1901-1914 by Jeffrey Green
    (Frank Cass 1998)
  • Wonderful adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands by Mary seacole
    (1857; reprinted by Falling Wall Press,edited by Ziggy Alexander and Audrey Dewjee,1984).
  • Black Londoners 1880-1990by susan Okokon
    (Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998)
  • The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave
    (1831; reprinted by the University of Michigan Press, edited by Moira Ferguson,1993).
  • The first Black footballer-Arthur Wharton 1865-1930 An Absence of Memory by Phil Vasili
    (frank Cass,1998, reprinted 1999)
  • Colouring over the white Line- The History of Black footballers in Britain by Phil Vasili
    (Mainstream Publishing,2000)
  • Breaking Stereotypes-Perspectives of Selected Black and Asian Leaders Edited by Clinton A.Valley,EdD.
    (Minerva Press, 2000)
  • West Indian Women at War-British Racism in World War II by Ben Bousquet and Colin Douglas
    (Lawrence and Wishhart, 1991)
  • Roots of the Future-Ethnic Diversity in the making of Britain
    By Commission for Racial Equality, 1997
  • England Affric-An Ethnological Survey by Ahmed ali and Abrahim Ali
    (Punite Books, 1995) ISBN 0 9518924 4 4
  • A History of the Black Presence in London (Greater London Council, 1986)
    ISBN 0 7168 1679 2
  • Black and white- the Negro and English Society 1555-1945 By James Walvin
    (Allen Lane, 1973)

For a more exhaustive list of useful Books on Black History, you can download a copy of the the Black & Asian Resources available at the British Library.

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Black Loyalists in 18th Century London


Image: Courtesy of Kurt Miller – KMI Studio Website:

It was during the War of Independence in the colony of America that Britain gained herself these unlikely allies. Black loyalists fought for Britain against the American colonists. Free blacks were joined by thousands of slaves who had been promised freedom and land by Britain if they joined in this battle. The idea of British freedom, i.e. complete freedom in the shortest possible time, was appealing to the escaped Africans who in the 1770s made their way to the British army position to fight for Britain and for freedom.

In September 1783, the independence of the United States and the formation of its boundaries were formally recognised. The new country was founded by an egalitarian movement and based on the philosophy of ‘equal rights’ for all.  After this treaty had been signed, the whole British faction had to leave the United States. In the eight months between April and November 1783, over 3,000 black people leaving the country on British ships for destinations as varied as Nova Scotia, the West Indies, England, Germany, Quebec or Belgium, were recorded in the Book of Negroes .

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London

London had a severe poverty problem in the 18th century. This became more pronounced as growing numbers of African-American loyalists arriving from America ended up living on the streets. The black and white loyalists had all been promised compensation for their losses in the War of Independence, however, the majority of claims from the black loyalists were denied or they were given derisory amounts condemning them to lives of destitution. The Parliamentary Commission Compensation Board reviewing the claims stated, on several occasions, that they believed the black claimants were being deceptive in claiming they were free men with property and should adopt a state of gratitude that they were now at liberty rather than pursue applications for financial assistance. In 1786 there were over 1,000 black loyalists living in London. As the negative sentiment regarding the presence of Africans in England increased there were suggestions of where to relocate these black people; the main areas proposed where the Bahamas, where other loyalists had moved to or Sierra Leone, on the West African coast.

The following year around 200 of this impoverished group migrated to Sierra Leone with government assistance; the government wanted to remove the problem of black poverty and the presence of large groups of free black people from the streets of England. There were 344 poor black people on the ship Myro that sailed from London in 1787.  The plan was to move the burden of the ‘troublesome’ black person from the attention of the public, forever . This was an indication of the racially nationalist philosophy that was to perpetuate the abolitionist movement.


Further reading and research

The Book of Negroes – that listed all the Black Loyalists evacuated from America – can be found in the archives at Kew (Public Records Office).

There is also a copy available online here

The National Archives contain records, that can only be viewed in the reading room, about the Committee for the Relief of Poor Blacks and their emigration to Sierra Leone; this covers the details of events between May 1786 to April 1787.

This article was contributed by Marjorie Morgan.Writer, Researcher. © 2013 | Blackpresence has special permission to publish this article.

Related Link: Black Loyalists

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Soldiers, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (5)

Joseph Chatoyer – The National Hero of St Vincent

Joseph Chatoyer – The National Hero of St Vincent:  by Veronica Williams.

St Vincent and the Grenadines an island in the Caribbean is without doubt one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean.  Like most of the islands in the Caribbean it was colonised by Europeans, namely the French and British for a period of time. St Vincent is now an independent country, but the struggle to remain free can be seen through the carib wars which took place.  One of the main proponents of the struggle was Joseph Chatoyer, who eventually became known as the Chief of Chiefs of the Caribs.

The original inhabitants of the island were thought to be the Ciboneys and Arawaks.  These two groups moved further north and were replaced by the Caribs.  I mention that the original inhabitants of the island were thought to be Ciboneys and Arawaks, but arguably the first people to populate the Caribbean islands originated in Africa.

Africa is, as we know the birthplace of mankind and if we look at a globe we can theorise as to how black men travelled throughout the globe.  One such theory is that the world was constructed differently and that there were connecting lands or land bridges between Africa and the Caribbean.  Another idea is that they travelled east around the globe until they reached North America and the Caribbean.

I put forward this view primarily to support an idea that some of the original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands were African men who were the indigenous people of the islands; and not necessarily slaves who had runaway or been shipwrecked and had made these islands their home. It may be argued that when the Europeans arrived and met the carib population they were both yellow caribs and those who were black and very obviously of negro origin. To all extents and purposes both the yellow and black caribs seemed to live quite harmoniously and seemed to have inter- married and assimilated each other’s cultures.

Joseph Chatoyer was in this latter category a black man or Carib(Garifuna).  A strong black man of a noble race who fought and died to preserve the land of his fathers. Chatoyer was an outstanding warrior with great leadership skills and qualities.  It was claimed that he was a master strategist and diplomat.  He earned a great deal of respect from both other Carib leaders and from the Europeans with whom he fought.  It is said that after his death some panic ensued from the French who withdrew from the war for some time.  The Caribs were also quite distressed and needed some time to recover before once again taking up arms.1   

Chatoyer was a significant figure in the struggle to retain the lands and liberty of the original inhabitants of St Vincent.  Although the exact date of his birth is not known, we gain an impression that he was middle aged and married with sons.  In my opinion this hero can be described as a famous general who was both brave and strong in resisting the British in their quest to take away their lands.

It was during the second Carib War that Chatoyer met his death at the hands of Major Alexander Leith.  The story about his death is recounted in tragic terms, and the profound loss at his death was deeply felt by both Caribs and French allies.  In March 1795, Duvallier the Windward Carib Chief took down the British flag at Dorsetshire Hill, which was a distinct challenge to the English.  Chatoyer eventually joined Duvalier at Dorsetshire Hill and took command.  Sadly on the night of March 14th 1795 the English stormed Dorsetshire Hill and Chatoyer was killed.

Chatoyer’s influence on others  is successfully established through a play which was written by the first black playwright.  It effectively delineates his exceptional abilities as well as portraying his struggle to resist the British. The play which is entitled  “The Drama of King Shotaway was written and produced by a gentleman named Mr Browne. A write up to the play states that the facts were taken from the ‘Insurrection of the Caravs in the island of St Vincent.’  The playwright acknowledges that the play was written from his own personal account of the events which took place, it also illustrates Chatoyer’s determination to outwit the British.  Mr Browne is recognised as the father of black theatre in America.2     

Every year on March 14 in St Vincent and the Grenadines  a public holiday is held to respect the great contributions of their national hero Joseph Chatoyer.

Veronica Williams

1.Chatoyer (Chatawae) National Hero of St Vincent and the Grenadines by Adrian Fraser (PhD) Published Galaxy Print Ltd (2002)

2. Our Cultural Heritage Vol.IV Famous Vincentians – Published by Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadine

Veronica Williams

Veronica Williams
Veronica Williams is a graduate in English Literature and has a Masters Degree in Cultural Studies.  She was an educator for 25 years and is now retired from the teaching profession.  Veronica has a wealth of experience to share and draws on her Christian background when discussing some of her views.  In addition to writing educational resources she also writes articles for magazines and newspapers.  Additionally she has written her autobiography, which is entitled The Mind of the Individual.  She moved to the Caribbean in 2010.


Contact :

Telephone No. 1(869)664 6438

Links to other published articles by Veronica Williams

Wisdom Magazine’s Web Edition  Article for July 2012

It Isn’t Always Appropriate to Laugh

Wisdom Magazine’s Web Edition Article for March 2012

Why It’s Okay to Cry


SKN Vibes (26/06/2012)

How to Remain In Paradise

Posted in Black History, Black History Month UK, Caribbean History, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (3)

Events on Haiti at Nottingham Contemporary

The programme at Nottingham Contemporary this autumn
With its focus on Haiti and a number of
international speakers, art exhibition, films etc – –

Some highlights are: 

Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou (20 October – 6 January)

Film: Bitter Cane (30 October)

David Scott on The Theory of Haiti (13 November)


Film: Aristide and the Endless Revolution (20 November)


Conference: 1804 and its afterlives (7-8 December)

Posted in Black History, Caribbean History, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (0)

Frederick Douglass in Britain 1845-1847

“Let the Press of England Blaze with Antislavery Indignation!” Frederick Douglass in Britain 1845-1847

Rising to the podium with applause ringing in his ears, Frederick Douglass addressed a large crowd of over three thousand in Paisley, 1846. He urged the people of Scotland to denounce American slavery and to reject all contact with slaveholders. Britain had a duty to destroy the evil sin of slavery, since she played a part in introducing it to the colonies in the first place. Frederick Douglass was not the first or the last fugitive slave to visit Britain during the nineteenth century, but his travels here electrified the nation. He wanted to “concentrate the moral and religious sentiment of the world against [slavery], until by the weight of its overwhelming influence, [it] be swept off the face of the earth.”

Frederick Douglass was born in Maryland, in 1818 and escaped to Massachusetts in the late 1830’s. He was soon employed by the fiery William Lloyd Garrison (leader of the American Antislavery Society), who recognised Douglass’s supreme talent of oratory. But why at the start of a promising career, did Frederick choose to travel to Britain?

There were several reasons for this. Primarily, he wanted to escape any unwanted attention from the publication of his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an autobiography chronicling his experiences as a slave. He was afraid this would jeopardise the safety of himself and his family – as a fugitive slave, his former master could kidnap him and drag him “back to the jaws of slavery”, so a trip abroad seemed logical. The Society also wanted Douglass to educate Britain on the nature of American slavery, and since he was a former slave, he could lecture on the brutality of it in great detail, unlike his white abolitionist friends.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

He began his journey in Ireland in 1845, where his narrative was already selling hundreds of copies. He lectured in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast, (among others), drawing crowds of support. He even shared a platform with the famous reformer Daniel O’Connell, who argued for the eradication of American slavery and oppression throughout the world.

It was here that Frederick began his campaign against a religious group called the Free Church of Scotland. The Free Church had split from the established church in Scotland in 1843, and some of its missionaries were sent to America to raise money for their new organisation. They collected thousands of pounds from Southern slaveholders, which outraged abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic. Building on work by other abolitionists, Douglass lambasted the group for supporting American slavery and created a furore in Scotland by promoting a campaign to “Send back the Money!” Thousands attended his speeches, songs were composed and a new (albeit short-lived) Free Church Antislavery Society was created. Although the money was not returned, the commotion of the campaign proved too hot to handle for some international organisations.

In 1846, a group of evangelicals from across the world attempted to form an Evangelical Alliance, dedicated to spreading the gospel. However, Douglass’s relentless attack on the Free Church put slavery on the agenda, a discussion that American delegates wanted to avoid. In line with Douglass and his supporters, some members of the alliance wanted to exclude slaveholders from their organisation, while others deplored this action as “unchristian like”. Consequently, the Evangelical Alliance shattered.

Clearly, Frederick Douglass had a strong influence on British society, but this did not mean he was universally admired. His exposure of the Free Church and the Evangelical Alliance was criticised in numerous quarters, and several newspapers objected to his conduct, claiming he was “anti-religious” for attacking the Free Church. Furthermore, Douglass was not popular with all British abolitionists. Richard D. Webb, a supporter of the American Antislavery Society praised Douglass’s oratory skills but attacked his character repeatedly during his stay in Britain. And several abolitionists in the Society vilified Douglass’s decision to accept the purchase of his freedom, which was arranged by a family in Newcastle. This was seen as recognition that man could be bought and sold as property. But this purchase ensured the safety of Douglass and his family, and surely, argued Douglass, this ‘transaction’ proved to the world the hypocrisy of the United States – how could a country declare its foundations in liberty when the government legally supported the purchase of men and women?

By studying Frederick Douglass’s experiences here, we can understand not only the nature of British society in the 1840s, but we can shatter the myth that popular antislavery ended in the 1830s after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Antislavery groups from Taunton to Glasgow campaigned for abolition within a transatlantic network, and raised money to aid fugitive slaves. Douglass gained not only his freedom in Britain but also his independence. He returned to the United States a free man, one who would work tirelessly for antislavery, temperance, women’s rights and social equality. Douglass deserves to be remembered for many reasons, but primarily, he is one of the greatest civil rights activists and his presence here merits more respect and recognition. Britain helped to make this man, and the sensation he created should earn a place in the history of British abolitionism.


Blassingame, John, (eds)., The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series One – Speeches, Debates, and Interviews, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1979. Vol.1.
Foner, Philip, (eds), Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, New York, 1950, Vol.1.
Blackett, R.J.M, Building an Antislavery Wall, (Louisiana, 1983.)


Author: Hannah Rose Murray

After completing my BA History degree at University College London, I studied for a Masters programme in Public History at Royal Holloway University. I work part-time in Southampton teaching and leading tour groups around an exhibition on the Titanic, whilst furthering my research on Frederick Douglass in Britain!

More about Frederick Douglass in Britain

If you are interested in Frederick Douglass. My lecture,  “A Wall of AntiSlavery Fire: Frederick Douglass in Britain 1845-1847″. It’s on the 15 January, at 6pm, in Room G26 at Senate House, London. And it’s free!

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Black History Month 2012 – Africa Channel


To mark Black History Month, The Africa Channel will be broadcasting some specially selected documentaries to inform, commemorate, inspire and raise debate. The UK Premiere of the intriguing five part series follows the life of Nelson Mandela, and uses his biography to tell a much broader story about the politics of struggle and reconciliation in South Africa.

Cuba, An African Odyssey is a second addition to the new Africa Channel’s programming this month and brings a transatlantic perspective to the history of Africa’s liberation. This intriguing documentary contains unique interviews alongside rare archival footage.  In addition, a host of inspirational African figures feature in our ‘Great Africans’ series, including Kofi Annan and Wole Soyinka.


A stunning five-part series that casts new light on the life of one of the most revered people of our time. This biographical series charts the life of Nelson Mandela, and begins with his early years in the rural Eastern Cape, and the irresistible lure of the city that increased as he grew older.

Episode two documents the systems of racial oppression so ingrained in city life, and tells the story of Mandela’s rapid politicisation and fervent campaigning against apartheid. Following this, narrator Chris Nicklin takes us through the infamous Rivonia treason trial and the subsequent dark days of political imprisonment.

Finally, the unprecedented series of negotiations that led to Mandela’s release take us on to the story of South Africa’s liberation and first democratic elections.

The strength of this series lies in its ability to bring original and surprising content to this well-known narrative. Through meticulous research and appealing cinematography, Mandela brings a refreshing angle to this iconic period in history, telling a much broader story about the politics of struggle and reconciliation.

> UK Premiere
> Thursdays at 8pm from 4th October.

DOCUMENTARY: Cuba, An African Odyssey

This film unravels the little-known story of Cuba’s involvement in Africa during the independence and post-independence periods, when countries like the Congo, Angola and Mozambique were used as battlegrounds on which the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were played out.

Beginning with Nelson Mandela’s first foreign visit (to Cuba) after his release from prison, the film asks: why did an international icon of freedom make this visit to see Fidel Castroand pay homage to a country that many feel limits the freedom of its own citizens? The viewer is then taken back to the start of Cuba’s long engagement with Africa from 1960 onwards, beginning with independence in the Congo, and the subsequent assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Intriguing interviews with some of the key figures of this period illuminate the narrative, including Fidel Castro, Larry Devlin (the CIA officer in the Congo during the 1960s) and Pik Botha (the former South African Foreign Minister).

> Part one: Tuesday 25th September at 9pm

> Part two: Tuesday 2nd October at 9pm


Wole Soyinka: Child of The Forest
The career of a Nobel Peace Prize winning author and intellectual

>Thursday 4th Oct at 9pm

RFK In The Land of Apartheid
Robert Kennedy’s visit to South Africa in 1966

>Saturday 13th Oct at 5pm

Kofi Annan’s Suspended Dream
An intimate interview with the former Secretary General of the UN

> Thursday 18th Oct at 9pm

Berlin 1885: The Division of Africa
A historical re-enactment of the Berlin Conference

>Tuesday 16th Oct at 9pm

Mwalimu: the Legacy of Nyerere
The architect of Tanzania’s independence

>Saturday 6th Oct at 9pm

Bhambatha: War of the Heads
A remarkable story of resistance in 1905

>Thursday 11th Oct at 9pm

CONTINUING: New Dramas and Wildlife

Jacob’s Cross
Season 7

One man’s quest to build an African empire

> Mondays at 9pm

4Play: Sex Tips for Girls Season 3
Love lives of ladies in Johannesburg

> Mondays at 10pm

Planet Africa
Features dynamic, positive environmental projects.
> Tuesdays at 8pm


For further information please contact Aurelie Brault  T: 0207 148 6919

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Sports Stars, Black Women, Caribbean History, SlaveryComments (0)

Thomas Clarkson – Compensation for Slavery

Despite some 25 years of researching I have never managed to figure out how to file bits and pieces of interesting but ‘unconnected’ information. So, searching for something else, I came across my notes from this truly remarkable letter from Thomas Clarkson, in the collection of his papers at Wisbeach Museum. The letter, addressed to Sir Henry Bunbury, MP for Suffolk, is dated 27 March 1831 and refers to the forthcoming debate on compensation for slave owners:

‘…evidence before Parliament in 1789, 1790 and 1791, proved that the slaves from Africa, were to the amount probably of 99 in a 100, stolen from their Relatives and their Country. They, therefore, who bought these could have no title to them but as the Purchasers of the Rights of the Robbers; and they, who detained the children of those in Slavery, could have no title to them because they were the children of Persons stolen. The poor Slave is the only one of the two Parties, who has a just Right to Compensation and Compensation for all the Injuries done to himself and heaped upon the heads of his Forefathers for more than a hundred and fifty years…. Charitable attention perhaps to the West Indians…who invested their property in these unhappy Beings….

Of course, no-one listened to Clarkson then – and those of African descent have still not received any compensation.

As I knew nothing about Sir Henry (1778 – 1860), I searched for his name in all my books on abolitionists but found nothing. So I googled him.  His father, Henry William Bunbury (1750 – 1811) is listed among the subscribers to the Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, published 1782. On 18 November 1830 and again on7 December 1830 Sir Henry was among those presenting a petition in the House of Commons for the immediate abolition of ‘Negro Slavery’.

(There is much correspondence by Bunbury in the manuscripts division of the British Library.)

I then looked for the Henry Bunbury mentioned in the article on Mary Seacole by Audrey Dewjee in Newsletter #57 and found an Irish Bunbury family with connections to the West Indian colonies. General Thomas Bunbury (1783 – 1857 or 1862) served as Governor of St.Lucia 1837 – 1838 and ‘retired as a Major-General and settled down in Kingston, Jamaica’. […/bunburyfamily_bunburys/bunbury_family_bunburys_cranovonane.html]

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Robert Wedderburn – Black Radical

Robert Wedderburn

Robert Wedderburn

Robert Wedderburn was born in Jamaica in 1762. His father was White Scottish, and his mother a slave. His family life was not one that involved a loving home. His father sold his mother to Lady Douglass, whilst she was pregnant with Robert. He did stipulate that when the child was born, he should be free.

Robert was raised by his maternal Grandmother. He then ran away to join the Navy. He came to England in 1778.  Living in the slum areas frequented by immigrants and outlaws he made a meagre living as a journeyman Taylor.

Robert Wedderburn and the Spenceans

In the late 1780’s he became interested in religion. He met Thomas Spence and joined the Society of Spencean Philanthropists. He first began to make a name for himself when the leader of the Spenceans, Thomas Evans was jailed for High Treason in 1817. Robert Wedderburn brought out a periodical called “The Forlorn Hope, or a call to the Supine, To rouse from Indolence and assert Public Rights”. With this he hoped to establish a free Press.

Police spies were always watching him. From their records we can see that Wedderburn opened a public meeting house in Hopkins St, Soho. Apparently his sermons were attended by around 200 hundred people each Sunday. He taught theology, morality, natural philosophy and politics.

Wedderburn was arrested for sedition. He was defending a slaves rights to rise up and kill his master. He was placed in Newgate Jail until a bail of £ 200 was raised. Shortly after the Peterloo Massacre took place. Wedderburns group declared it an act of murder committed by the magistrates and the Yeoman.

Wedderburn was also an anti Slavery campaigner. He sent the first revolutionary papers from England to the West Indies. This was called ‘The axe laid to the root , or “A fatal blow to oppressions, being an address to the planters and Negroes of the island of Jamaica“.

For this Wedderburn was arrested and found guilty of ‘Blasphemous libel’. He served 2 years in Carlisle jail. When he was released, he wrote his autobiography entitled The Horrors of Slavery”.

Related Links


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