Friday, 14 November 2008

Middle-class Londoners who bought into slavery




by Derry Nairn


New research by University College London has revealed that massive amounts of government compensation were paid out to investors when slavery was abolished in the 19th century. Dr Nick Draper has discovered that £20 million worth of payments were made, a figure that equates to a staggering 40% of government expenditure of the day.

Even more surprising are the backgrounds to the recipients. The image many today would hold of slave owners may involve upper class affectations and West Indian sugar plantations. The truth however, is that many ordinary middle-class Londoners invested in the slave trade just like it was any other industry. Some of the 'slavers' revealed by Draper's research include poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, MP George Watson Taylor, Lord Mayor John Atkins and lawyer J W Freshfield.
Dr Draper commented:
It's important that we recognise the ways in which slavery permeates London's history, not only through direct slave-ownership by Londoners but also through more complex financial and commercial ties between the slave-system and people living and working in London. Slavery was not the only influence on London's development, but it was an important one, especially in areas such as Marylebone, and is too often overlooked.'
Much of the research is on view at the exhibition Slavers of Harley Street which runs from 14 November 2008 to 31 March 2009 at Museum of London Docklands.

Read here about some of our articles on slavery and abolition:

2 comments:

Mberenis said...

Did you hear the good news? Obama is making it better for us already! Most people don't realize how much money there is out there. During economic times like this, there is more money to be had than ever. Because of the bailouts and economy, lenders are bending over backwards to bail you out too. Believe it or not, there is people getting tons of cheap money nowdays to start businesses, buy homes, pay off debt, and more. Bailout is for YOU

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