|One who didn't, Jeremiah Brundrett|
This is not such a sensational question as you might think.
Slavery permeated deep into both our economy and our society and contrary to the popularly held belief it was not just the big cities of Liverpool, Bristol and London that benefited from both the Slave Trade and the produce grown and made by slave labour.
And even after the abolition of the trade in 1807 it would be another twenty-six years before slavery itself was abolished and on terms that saw the owners compensated to the tune of £20 million.
Now I had assumed that most of that tax payer’s money went to a small group of large plantation owners based mainly in the West Indies, but the final settlement according to Legacies of British Slave-ownership extended to "over 45,000 claimants, and about 3,000 of them were living in Britain in the 1830s.
Although claimants living in Britain were in the minority, they tended to own the largest stakes of property; about £10 million of the total £20 million compensation was paid to these 3,000 people in Britain.
Many were very wealthy but there were a wide range of claimants, from rich landowners to widows with children who wrote to the compensation commission complaining of their poverty."
The site and can be found at Legacies of British Slave-ownership, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/
It is the “umbrella for two projects based at UCL tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain: the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-ownership project, now complete, and the ESRC and AHRC-funded Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763-1833, running from 2013-2015.
Colonial slavery shaped modern Britain and we all still live with its legacies. The slave-owners were one very important means by which the fruits of slavery were transmitted to metropolitan Britain. We believe that research and analysis of this group are key to understanding the extent and the limits of slavery's role in shaping British history and leaving lasting legacies that reach into the present.
The stories of enslaved men and women, however, are no less important than those of slave-owners, and we hope that the encyclopedia produced in the first phase of the project, while at present primarily a resource for studying slave-owners, will also provide information of value to those researching enslaved people.
We are now tracking back to 1763 the ownership histories of the 4000 or so estates identified in that project. At the core of the completed project is this online Encyclopedia of British Slave-ownership containing information about every slave-owner in the British Caribbean, Mauritius or the Cape at the moment of abolition in 1833.
Entries include information about the activities, affiliations and legacies of these men and women, with a particular emphasis on the "absentee" owners based in Britain.
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.
And the data base can be searched by name, or browsed through the subject headings of “commercial, cultural, historical, imperial, physical and political.”
Even The Rev William Birley who had lived here in the 1840s before moving to Salford and who publicly supported the Confederate States in the American Civil War is missing from the list.
But it is early days, and there are still plenty of people who may have an interest.
Leaving that aside here is a wonderful introduction into that world. Just looking at the 36 who applied each with the surname of Brooks there was Joseph Walrond Brooks who was awarded £32 16s 5d for two slaves in Antigua, Amelia Brooks from St Elizabeth in Jamaica awarded £253 15s 8d for her 10 slaves and George Brooks from Manchester in Jamaica who was paid £2478 13s 1d for his 212 slaves.
Nor is that all, for abolition did not actually mean abolition for only slaves below the age of six were freed in the colonies. All those over the over the age of six were re designated as "apprentices", which was abolished in two stages; the first set of apprenticeships came to an end on 1 August 1838, while the final apprenticeships were scheduled to cease on 1 August 1840.”
Ah well as I often maintain history is messy, and with a sideways nod to my old self, it is a story which often chronicles those with power and money coming out on top again and again.
Pictures; Jeremiah Brundrett leading Chorlton Wesleyan, Chorlton, detail from the OS map of Lancashire 1841-53, courtesy of Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.co.uk/