history of slavery in Britain
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Slavery in Britain existed prior to the
Roman occupation
Roman occupation
and until the 11th century, when the Norman conquest of England resulted in the gradual merger of the pre-conquest institution of slavery into
serfdom Serfdom was the status of many peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revoluti ...
, and all slaves were no longer recognised separately in English law or custom. By the middle of the 12th century, the institution of slavery as it had existed prior to the Norman conquest had fully disappeared. British merchants were a significant force behind the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, but no legislation was ever passed in England that legalised
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
. In the Somerset case of 1772,
Lord Mansfield
Lord Mansfield
ruled that, as slavery was not recognised by English law, James Somerset, a slave who had been brought to England and then escaped, could not be forcibly sent to Jamaica for sale, and he was set free. An
abolitionist movement Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, was the movement to end slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is t ...
grew in Britain during the 18th and 19th century, until the
Slave Trade Act 1807 The Slave Trade Act 1807, officially An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assem ...
abolished the slave trade in the British Empire, but it was not until the
Slavery Abolition Act 1833 The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) provided for the immediate abolition of slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an en ...
that the institution of slavery was abolished. Despite being illegal,
modern slavery Contemporary slavery, also sometimes known as modern slavery or neo-slavery, refers to institutional slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service ...
still exists in Britain, as elsewhere, usually following
human trafficking Human trafficking is the trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elem ...
from poorer countries.


Overview

Historically,
Briton
Briton
s were enslaved in large numbers, typically by rich merchants and warlords who exported indigenous slaves from pre-Roman times, and by foreign invaders from the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
during the
Roman Conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain was a process that consisted of the conquest of territory located on the island of Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly k ...
.David A. E. Pelteret, ''Slavery in Early Mediaeval England: From the Reign of Alfred until the Twelfth Century'' (1995) A thousand years later, British merchants became major participants in the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
in the
early modern period The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, adve ...
. Then wealthy people living within the British Isles, as well as in British colonies, might own African slaves. In a
triangular trade Triangular trade or triangle trade is trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interr ...

triangular trade
-system, ship-owners transported enslaved West Africans to the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The r ...
(especially to the Caribbean) to be sold there. The ships brought commodities back to Britain then exported goods to Africa. Some entrepreneurs brought slaves to Britain, where they were kept in bondage. After a long campaign for abolition led by Thomas Clarkson and (in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorpor ...

House of Commons
) by
William Wilberforce William Wilberforce (24 August 175929 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Heal ...

William Wilberforce
,
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
prohibited dealing in slaves by passing the Abolition Act of 1807, which the
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
's West Africa Squadron enforced. Britain used its influence to persuade other countries around the world to abolish the slave trade and to sign treaties to allow the Royal Navy to interdict slaving ships. In 1772
Somerset v Stewart ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the ...
held that slavery had no basis in English law and was thus a violation of
Habeas Corpus (; from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin '' ...
. This built on the earlier Cartwright case from the reign of Elizabeth I which had similarly held the concept of slavery was not recognised in English law. This case was generally taken at the time to have decided that the condition of slavery did not exist under
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
. Legally ("de jure") slave owners could not win in court, and abolitionists provided legal help for enslaved black people. However actual ("de facto") slavery continued in Britain with ten to fourteen thousand slaves in England and Wales, who were mostly domestic servants. When slaves were brought in from the colonies they had to sign waivers that made them indentured servants while in Britain. Most modern historians generally agree that slavery continued in Britain into the late 18th century, finally disappearing around 1800. Slavery elsewhere in the was not affected—indeed it grew rapidly especially in the Caribbean colonies. Slavery was abolished in the colonies by buying out the owners in 1833 by the
Slavery Abolition Act 1833 The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) provided for the immediate abolition of slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an en ...
. Most slaves were freed, with exceptions and delays provided for the
East India Company The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), the English East India Company or (after 1707) the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Com ...
,
Ceylon Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Ceylon
, and
Saint Helena Saint Helena () is a British possession in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is a remote volcanic tropical island west of the coast of south-western Africa, and east of Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro (; ), or simply Rio, is the List of larg ...

Saint Helena
. These exceptions were eliminated in 1843. The prohibition on slavery and servitude is now codified under Article 4 of the
European Convention on Human Rights The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR; formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) is an international convention to protect human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin ...
, in force since 1953 and incorporated directly into
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
law by the
Human Rights Act 1998 The Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42) is an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parliament or council). In most ...
. Article 4 of the Convention also bans forced or compulsory labour, with some exceptions such as a criminal penalty or military service.


Before 1066

From before Roman times, slavery was prevalent in Britain, with indigenous Britons being routinely exported. Following the
Roman Conquest of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain was a process that consisted of the conquest of territory located on the island of Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly k ...
slavery was expanded and industrialised. After the fall of Roman Britain, both the
Angles The Angles ( ang, Ængle, ; la, Angli; german: Angeln) were one of the main Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe and Scandinavia. Since the 19th century, they have traditional ...

Angles
and
Saxons The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...

Saxons
propagated the slave system. Some of the earliest accounts of slaves from comes from the account of fair-haired boys from
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...

York
seen in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus () was the legendary foundation of Rome, founder and King of Rome, first king of Ancient Rome, Rome. Various traditions attribu ...
by
Pope Gregory the Great Pope Gregory I ( la, Gregorius I; – 12 March 604), commonly known as Saint Gregory the Great, was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally e ...
. Vikings traded with the , Pictish, Brythonic and
Saxon The Saxons ( la, Saxones, german: Sachsen, ang, Seaxan, osx, Sahson, nds, Sassen, nl, Saksen) were a group of early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic langua ...

Saxon
kingdoms in between raiding them for slaves. The Saxon slave traders sometimes worked in league with
Norse Norse is a demonym for Norsemen The Norsemen (or Norse people) were a North Germanic The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European ...
traders often selling Britons to the Irish. In 870,
Vikings Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skadesi-suolu''/''Skađsuâl''. ( ) is a in , with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. In ...

Vikings
besieged and captured the stronghold of
Alt Clut Strathclyde (lit. "Strath of the River Clyde", and Strath-Clota in Anglo-Saxon), was one of the Scotland in the Early Middle Ages, early medieval kingdoms of the Britons (Celtic people), Britons, located in the region the Welsh tribes referred t ...
(the capital of the Kingdom of Strathclyde) and in 871 took most of the site's inhabitants, most likely by
Olaf the White Olaf the White ( non, Óláfr hinn Hvíti) was a viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern ...
and
Ivar the Boneless Ivar the Boneless ( non, Ívarr hinn Beinlausi ; born in 800s–c. 873), also known as Ivar Ragnarsson, was a semi-legendary Viking Vikings—"pirate", non, víkingr is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scan ...
, to the Dublin slave markets.''The Historical encyclopedia of world slavery'', Volume 1; Volume 7 By Junius P. Rodriguez ABC-CLIO, 1997
Maredudd ab Owain Maredudd ab Owain (died ) was a 10th-century king of Deheubarth, king in Wales of the High Middle Ages. A member of the House of Dinefwr, his patrimony was the kingdom of Deheubarth comprising the southern realms of kingdom of Dyfed, Dyfed, kin ...
(d. 999) paid a large ransom for 2,000 Welsh slaves, which demonstrates the large-scale slave raiding upon the British Isles. Anglo-Saxon opinion turned against the sale of slaves abroad: a stated that anyone selling his own countryman, whether bond or free, across the sea, was to pay his own
weregild Weregild (also spelled wergild, wergeld (in archaic/historical usage of English), weregeld, etc.), also known as man price (blood money Blood money may refer to: * Blood money (restitution), money paid to the family of a murder victim Films ...
in penalty, even when the man so sold was guilty of crime. Nevertheless, legal penalties and economic pressures that led to default in payments maintained the supply of slaves, and in the 11th century there was still a slave trade operating out of
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...

Bristol
, as a passage in the '' Vita Wulfstani'' makes clear. The ''Bodmin manumissions'', a manuscript now in the British Library preserves the names and details of slaves freed in Bodmin (the then principal town of Cornwall) during the 9th or 10th centuries - indicating both that slavery existed in Cornwall at that time and that numerous Cornish slave-owners eventually set their slaves free.


Norman England

According to the Domesday Book census, over 10% of England's population in 1086 were slaves. While there was no legislation against slavery, William the Conqueror introduced a law preventing the sale of slaves overseas. In 1102, the Church Council of London (1102), Council of London convened by Anselm of Canterbury, Anselm issued a decree: "Let no one dare hereafter to engage in the infamous business, prevalent in England, of selling men like animals." However, the Council had no legislative powers, and no act of law was valid unless signed by the monarch. The influence of the new Norman aristocracy led to the decline of slavery in England. Contemporary writers noted that the Scottish and Welsh took captives as slaves during raids, a practice which was no longer common in England by the 12th century. By the start of the 13th century references to people being taken as slaves stopped. According to historian John Gillingham, by about 1200 slavery in the British Isles was non-existent.


Transportation

Transportation to the colonies as a criminal or an indentured servant served as punishment for both great and petty crimes in England from the 17th century until well into the 19th century. A sentence could be for life or for a specific period. The penal system required convicts to work on government projects such as road construction, building works and mining, or assigned them to free individuals as unpaid labour. Women were expected to work as domestic servants and farm labourers. Like slaves, indentured servants could be bought and sold, could not marry without the permission of their owner, were subject to physical punishment, and saw their obligation to labour enforced by the courts. However, they did retain certain heavily restricted rights; this contrasts with slaves who had none. A convict who had served part of his time might apply for a "ticket of leave", granting them some prescribed freedoms. This enabled some convicts to resume a more normal life, to marry and raise a family, and enabled a few to develop the colonies while removing them from the society. Exile was an essential component, and was thought to be a major deterrent to crime. Transportation was also seen as a humane and productive alternative to Capital punishment, execution, which would most likely have been the sentence for many if transportation had not been introduced. The transportation of English subjects overseas can be traced back to the English Vagabonds Act 1597. During the reign of Henry VIII of England, Henry VIII, an estimated 72,000 people were put to death for a variety of crimes.''1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', Capital punishment'' An alternative practice, borrowed from the Spanish Empire, Spanish, was to Pardon, commute the death sentence and allow the use of convicts as a labour force for the colonies. One of the first references to a person being transported comes in 1607 when "an apprentice dyer was sent to Virginia from Bridewell for running away with his master's goods." The Act was little used despite attempts by James I of England, James I who, with limited success, tried to encourage its adoption by passing a series of Privy Council Orders in 1615, 1619 and 1620. Transportation was seldom used as a criminal sentence until the Piracy Act 1717, "An Act for the further preventing Robbery, Burglary, and other Felonies, and for the more effectual Transportation of Felons, and unlawful Exporters of Wool; and for declaring the Law upon some Points relating to Pirates", established a seven-year penal transportation as a possible punishment for those convicted of lesser felonies, or as a possible sentence to which capital punishment might be commuted by royal pardon. Criminals were transported to North America from 1718 to 1776. When the American revolution made transportation to the Thirteen Colonies unfeasible, those sentenced to it were typically punished with imprisonment or hard labour instead. From 1787 to 1868, criminals convicted and sentenced under the Act were transported to the colonies in Australia. After the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and subsequent Cromwellian invasion, the English Parliament passed the Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652 which classified the Irish population into several categories according to their degree of involvement in the uprising and the subsequent war. Those who had participated in the uprising or assisted the rebels in any way were sentenced to be hanged and to have their property confiscated. Other categories were sentenced to banishment with whole or partial confiscation of their estates. While the majority of the resettlement took place within Ireland to the province of Connacht, Connaught, perhaps as many as 50,000 were transported to the colonies in the West Indies and in North America. Irish, Welsh and Scottish people were sent to work on sugar plantations in Barbados during the time of Cromwell. During the early colonial period, the Scots and the English, along with other western European nations, dealt with their "Gypsy problem" by transporting them as slaves in large numbers to North America and the Caribbean. Cromwell shipped Romanichal Gypsies as slaves to the southern plantations, and there is documentation of Gypsies being owned by former black slaves in Jamaica. Long before the Highland Clearances, some chiefs, such as Ewen Cameron of Lochiel, sold some of their clans into indenture in North America. Their goal was to alleviate over-population and lack of food resources in the glens. Numerous Highland Jacobitism, Jacobite supporters, captured in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden and rigorous Government sweeps of the Highlands, were imprisoned on ships on the River Thames. Some were sentenced to transportation to the Carolinas as indentured servants.


Slavery and bondage in Scottish collieries

For nearly two hundred years in the history of coal mining in Scotland, miners were bonded to their "maisters" by a 1606 Act "Anent Coalyers and Salters". The Colliers and Salters (Scotland) Act 1775 stated that "many colliers and salters are in a state of slavery and bondage" and announced emancipation; those starting work after 1 July 1775 would not become slaves, while those already in a state of slavery could, after 7 or 10 years depending on their age, apply for a decree of the Sheriff's Court granting their freedom. Few could afford this, until a further law in 1799 established their freedom and made this slavery and bondage illegal.


Barbary pirates

From the 16th to the 19th centuries it is estimated that between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by Barbary pirates and Barbary slave traders and sold as slaves. The slavers got their name from the Barbary Coast, that is, the Mediterranean shores of North Africa – what is now Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. There are reports of Barbary raids and kidnappings of those in France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom and as far north as Iceland and the fate of those abducted into slavery in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire. Villagers along the south coast of England petitioned the king to protect them from abduction by Barbary pirates. Item 20 of The Grand Remonstrance, a list of grievances against Charles I of England, Charles I presented to him in 1641, contains the following complaint about Barbary pirates of the Ottoman Empire abducting English people into slavery:


Enslaved Africans

Admiral Sir John Hawkins (naval commander), John Hawkins of Plymouth, a notable Elizabethan seafarer, is widely acknowledged to be "the Pioneer of the English Slave Trade". In 1554–1555, Hawkins formed a slave trading syndicate of wealthy merchants. He sailed with three ships for the Caribbean via Sierra Leone, hijacked a Portuguese slave ship and sold the 300 slaves from it in Santo Domingo. During a second voyage in 1564, his crew captured 400 Africans and sold them at Riohacha, Rio de la Hacha in present-day Colombia, making a 60% profit for his financiers. A third voyage involved both buying slaves directly in Africa and capturing a Portuguese ship with its cargo; upon reaching the Caribbean, Hawkins sold all the slaves. On his return, he published a book entitled ''An Alliance to Raid for Slaves''. It is estimated that Hawkins transported 1,500 enslaved Africans across the Atlantic during his four voyages of the 1560s, before stopping in 1568 after a battle with the Spanish in which he lost five of his seven ships. The English involvement in the Atlantic slave trade only resumed in the 1640s after the country acquired an American colony (Colony of Virginia, Virginia). By the mid-18th century, History of African presence in London, London had the largest African population in Britain, made up of free and enslaved people, as well as many ''runaways''. The total number may have been about 10,000. Owners of African slaves in England would advertise slave-sales and rewards for the recapture of ''runaways''. A number of freed slaves managed to achieve prominence in British society. Ignatius Sancho (1729–1780), known as "The Extraordinary Negro", opened his own grocer's shop in Westminster. He was famous for his poetry and music, and his friends included the novelist Laurence Sterne, David Garrick the actor and John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu, the Duke and Mary Montagu, Duchess of Montagu, Duchess of Montague. He is best known for his letters which were published after his death. Others such as Olaudah Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano were equally well known, and along with Ignatius Sancho were active in the abolition campaign.


Triangular trade

By the 18th century, the slave trade became a major economic mainstay for such cities as
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...

Bristol
, Liverpool and Glasgow, engaged in the so-called "Triangular trade". The ships set out from Britain, loaded with trade goods which were exchanged on the West African shores for slaves captured by local rulers from deeper inland; the slaves were transported through the infamous "Middle Passage" across the Atlantic, and were sold at considerable profit for labour in plantations. The ships were loaded with export crops and commodities, the products of slave labour, such as cotton, sugar and rum, and returned to Britain to sell the items.


The Isle of Man and the transatlantic slave trade

The Isle of Man was involved in the transatlantic African slave trade. Goods from the slave trade were bought and sold on the Isle of Man, and Manx merchants, seamen, and ships were involved in the trade.


Judicial decisions

No legislation was ever passed in England that legalised slavery, unlike the Portuguese ''Ordenações Manuelinas'' (1481–1514), the Dutch ''East India Company Ordinances'' (1622), and France's ''Code Noir'' (1685), and this caused confusion when English people brought home slaves they had legally purchased in the colonies. In ''Butts v. Penny'' (1677) 2 Lev 201, 3 Keb 785, an action was brought to recover the value of 10 slaves who had been held by the plaintiff in Indian subcontinent, India. The court held that an action for trover would lie in English law, because the sale of non-Christians as slaves was common in India. However, no judgment was delivered in the case. An English court case of 1569 involving Cartwright who had bought a slavery in Russia, slave from Russia ruled that English law could not recognise slavery. This ruling was overshadowed by later developments, particularly in the Navigation Acts, but was upheld by the Lord Chief Justice in 1701 when he ruled that a slave became free as soon as he arrived in England. Agitation saw a series of judgments repulse the tide of slavery. In ''Smith v. Gould'' (1705–07) 2 Salk 666, John Holt (Lord Chief Justice) stated that by "the common law no man can have a property in another". (See Slavery at common law#The .22infidel.22 rationale, the "infidel rationale".) In 1729 the Attorney General and Solicitor General of England signed the Yorke–Talbot slavery opinion, expressing their view (and, by implication, that of the Government) that slavery of Africans was lawful in England. At this time slaves were openly bought and sold on commodities markets at London and Liverpool. Slavery was also accepted in Britain's many colonies. Lord Henley LC said in ''Shanley v. Harvey'' (1763) 2 Eden 126, 127 that as "soon as a man sets foot on English ground he is free". After ''R v. Knowles, ex parte Somersett'' (1772) 20 State Tr 1 the law remained unsettled, although the decision was a significant advance for, at the least, preventing the forceable removal of anyone from England, whether or not a slave, against his will. A man named James Somersett was the slave of a Boston customs officer. They came to England, and Somersett escaped. Captain Knowles captured him and took him on his boat, Jamaica bound. Three abolitionists, saying they were his "godparents", applied for a writ of ''habeas corpus''. One of Somersett's lawyers, Francis Hargrave, stated "In 1569, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a lawsuit was brought against a man for beating another man he had bought as a slave overseas. The record states, 'That in the 11th [year] of Elizabeth [1569], one Cartwright brought a slave from Russia and would scourge him; for which he was questioned; and it was resolved, that England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in'." He argued that the court had ruled in Cartwright's case that English common law made no provision for slavery, and without a basis for its legality, slavery would otherwise be unlawful as false imprisonment and/or assault. In his judgment of 22 June 1772, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Chief Justice William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, William Murray, Lord Mansfield, of the King's Bench, Court of King's Bench, started by talking about the capture and forcible detention of Somersett. He finished with: Several different reports of Mansfield's decision appeared. Most disagree as to what was said. The decision was only given orally; no formal written record of it was issued by the court. Abolitionists widely circulated the view that it was declared that the condition of slavery did not exist under
English law English law is the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ''Blac ...
, although Mansfield later said that all that he decided was that a slave could not be forcibly removed from England against his will. After reading about Somersett's Case, Joseph Knight (slave), Joseph Knight, an enslaved African who had been purchased by his master John Wedderburn of Ballindean, John Wedderburn in Jamaica and brought to Scotland, left him. Married and with a child, he filed a freedom suit, on the grounds that he could not be held as a slave in Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain. In the case of ''Knight v. Wedderburn'' (1778), Wedderburn said that Knight owed him "perpetual servitude". The Court of Sessions of Scotland ruled against him, saying that chattel slavery was not recognised under the law of Scotland, and slaves could seek court protection to leave a master or avoid being forcibly removed from Scotland to be returned to slavery in the colonies.


Abolition

The abolitionist movement was led by Quakers and other Nonconformist (Protestantism), Non-conformists, but the Test Act prevented them from becoming Members of Parliament.
William Wilberforce William Wilberforce (24 August 175929 July 1833) was a British politician, philanthropist Philanthropy consists of "private initiatives, for the public good, focusing on quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Heal ...

William Wilberforce
, a member of the House of Commons as an independent, became the Parliamentary spokesman for the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. His conversion to Evangelical Christianity in 1784 played a key role in interesting him in this social reform. William Wilberforce's
Slave Trade Act 1807 The Slave Trade Act 1807, officially An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assem ...
abolished the slave trade in the British Empire. It was not until the
Slavery Abolition Act 1833 The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73) provided for the immediate abolition of slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an en ...
that the institution finally was abolished, but on a gradual basis. Since land owners in the British West Indies were losing their unpaid labourers, they received compensation totalling £20 million. The
Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A ...
established the West Africa Squadron (or Preventative Squadron) at substantial expense in 1808 after Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act. The squadron's task was to suppress the
Atlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
by patrolling the coast of West Africa, preventing the slave trade by force of arms, including the interception of slave ships from Europe, the United States, the Barbary pirates, West Africa and the Ottoman Empire. The Church of England was implicated in slavery. Slaves were owned by the Anglican Church's Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPGFP), which had sugar plantations in the West Indies. When slaves were Abolitionism in the United Kingdom, emancipated by Act of Parliament, Act of the British Parliament in 1834, the British government paid compensation to slave owners. Among those they paid were the Bishop of Exeter and three business colleagues, who received compensation for 665 slaves. The compensation of British slaveholders was almost £17 billion in current money.


Economic impact of slavery

Historians and economists have debated the economic effects of slavery for Great Britain and the North American colonies. Many analysts, such as Eric Williams, suggest that it allowed the formation of capital that financed the Industrial Revolution, although the evidence is inconclusive. Slave labour was integral to early settlement of the colonies, which needed more people for labour and other work. Also, slave labour produced the major consumer goods that were the basis of world trade during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: coffee, cotton, rum, sugar, and tobacco. Slavery was far more important to the profitability of plantations in the American South, plantations and the economy in the American South; and the slave trade and associated businesses were important to both New York and New England. Others, such as economist Thomas Sowell, have noted instead that at the Atlantic slave trade#Destinations and flags of carriers, height of the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century, profits by British slave traders would have only amounted to 2 percent of British Gross domestic product#Expenditure approach, domestic investment. In 1995, a random anonymous survey of 178 members of the Economic History Association found that out of the 40 propositions about the economic history of the United States that were surveyed, the group of propositions most disputed by economic historians and economists were those about the History of the United States (1865–1918), postbellum economy of the American South (along with the Great Depression in the United States, Great Depression). The only exception was the proposition initially put forward by historian Gavin Wright that the "modern period of the Southern United States, South's economic convergence to the level of the Northern United States, North only began in earnest when the institutional foundations of the southern regional labor market were undermined, largely by New Deal, federal farm and labor legislation dating from the 1930s." 62 percent of economists (24 percent with and 38 percent without provisos) and 73 percent of historians (23 percent with and 50 percent without provisos) agreed with this statement. Additionally, economists Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson, in a pair of articles published in 2012 and 2013, found that, despite the Southern United States initially having per capita income roughly double that of the Northern United States in 1774, incomes in the South had declined 27% by 1800 and continued to decline over the next four decades, while the economies in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states vastly expanded. By 1840, per capita income in the South was well behind the Northeast and the national average (Note: this is also true List of United States counties by per capita income, in the early 21st century). Reiterating an observation made by Alexis de Tocqueville in ''Democracy in America'', Thomas Sowell also notes that like in Slavery in Brazil, Brazil, the Slave states and free states, states where slavery in the United States was concentrated ended up poorer and less populous at the end of the slavery than the states that had Abolitionism in the United States, abolished slavery in the United States. While some historians have suggested slavery was necessary for the Industrial Revolution (on the grounds that American slave plantations produced most of the raw cotton for the British textiles market and the British textiles market was the vanguard of the Industrial Revolution), historian Eric Hilt has noted that it is not clear if this is actually true; there is no evidence that cotton could not have been mass-produced by Yeoman#United States, yeoman farmers rather than slave plantations if the latter had not existed (as their existence tended to force yeoman farmers into Subsistence agriculture, subsistence farming) and there is some evidence that they certainly could have. The soil and climate of the American South were excellent for growing cotton, so it is not unreasonable to postulate that farms without slaves could have produced substantial amounts of cotton; even if they did not produce as much as the plantations did, it could still have been enough to serve the demand of British producers. Similar arguments have been made by other historians. Additionally, Thomas Sowell has noted, citing historians Clement Eaton and Eugene Genovese, that three-quarters of Southern white families owned no slaves at all. Most slaveholders lived on farms rather than plantations, and few plantations were as large as the fictional ones depicted in ''Gone with the Wind (film), Gone with the Wind''. In 2006, the then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, expressed his deep sorrow over the slave trade, which he described as "profoundly shameful". Some campaigners had demanded reparations from the former slave trading nations. In recent years, several institutions have begun to evaluate their own links with slavery. For instance, English Heritage produced a book on the extensive links between slavery and British country houses in 2013, Jesus College, Cambridge, Jesus College has a working group to examine the legacy of slavery within the college, and the Church of England, the Bank of England, Lloyd's of London and Greene King have all apologised for their historic links to slavery. University College London has developed a database examining the commercial, cultural, historical, imperial, physical and political legacies of slavery in Britain.


Modern slavery

The UK is a destination country for men, women, and children primarily from Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe who are subjected to
human trafficking Human trafficking is the trade Trade involves the transfer of goods from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elem ...
for the purposes of sexual slavery, forced labour, and domestic servitude. Research published in 2015, following the announcement of the government's Modern Slavery Act 2015, 'Modern Slavery Strategy', estimated the number of potential victims of modern slavery in the UK to be around 10–13 thousand, of whom roughly 7–10 thousand were currently unrecorded (given that 2744 confirmed cases were already known to the National Crime Agency).


See also

* Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery * Human trafficking * Husband-selling * Slave Trade Acts * Slavery at common law * Slavery in Ireland *
Somerset v Stewart ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the ...
* Wife selling (English custom)


Footnotes


Further reading

* * Devine, Tom M. ''Recovering Scotland's Slavery Past''. (Edinburgh U, 2015). * Drescher, Seymour. ''Econocide: British slavery in the era of abolition'' (U of North Carolina Press, 2010). * Drescher, Seymour. ''Abolition: a history of slavery and antislavery'' (Cambridge UP, 2009). * Dumas, Paula E. ''Proslavery Britain: Fighting for slavery in an era of abolition'' (Springer, 2016). * Eltis, David, and Stanley L. Engerman. "The importance of slavery and the slave trade to industrializing Britain." ''Journal of Economic History'' 60.1 (2000): 123-144
online
* * Kern, Holger Lutz. "Strategies of legal change: Great Britain, international law, and the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade." ''Journal of the History of International Law/Revue d'histoire du droit international'' 6.2 (2004): 233-258
online
* Midgley, Clare. ''Women against slavery: the British campaigns, 1780-1870'' (Routledge, 2004). * David Olusoga, Olusoga, David. ''Black and British: A Forgotten History'' (Macmillan, 2016); * * Taylor, Michael. "The British West India interest and its allies, 1823–1833." ''English Historical Review'' 133.565 (2018): 1478-1511. https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cey336 * Wiecekt, William M. "Somerset: Lord Mansfield and the legitimacy of slavery in the Anglo-American world." ''Constitutional Law'' (Routledge, 2018) pp. 77–138
online


External links

*
Records on slaves and slave owners in the National Archives
{{DEFAULTSORT:Slavery In Britain Slavery in the British Empire Slavery in the United Kingdom, Human rights abuses in the United Kingdom Black British history