British Slave Owners


slaves- bahamaYou might think only Southerners in America had slaves on plantations in the 1800s, but human slavery did go back to colonial times (1700s) in the British Colonies and in other British territories such as the Caribbean Islands. The British slave trade was ended in 1807 and the British government abolished slavery in its territories and colonies in 1833. For a couple decades after-wards, many of the former slaves served as apprentices to their former owners or to others. As apprentices in exchange for free board and lodging, had to work for their “owners” 40 and a half hours for nothing until 1840.

Vintage engraving of slaves working sugar on a plantation.

Vintage engraving of slaves working sugar on a plantation.

To learn more about the British slave trade and the owners of slaves, there is an online database by the Legacies of British Slave-ownership (done by the University College of London) with a good searchable site. This will have names, locations and dates on owners and on the former slaves. Many owners were compensated by the British government for the lost in value of a former slave and then the apprentices. That is why the records show owners, slaves and the amounted compensated.

Start with a surname, don’t try to put in dates and even given name as you first explore the database. Try also different spellings. If you find one of interest click on the button ‘Details’ to learn more.

The term ‘awardee’ is the former slave owner.

Look over the ‘People of Interest’ section at the bottom, you might have an ancestor or two there – some freed slaves and some owners of slaves. Many individuals who were former slaves or descendant from slaves went on to become very productive and important in the development of numerous island nations.

slave-mapThere won’t be photos or many details, but just might find a bit more than you knew before using the Legacies of British Slave-ownership site.

Photos: Slaves and owners in the Caribbean and Map.

Related genealogical blogs:

Caribbean and West Indies



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