British history of slave ownership

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Not in India, it wasn’t: it was explicitly excluded from the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, as were Ceylon and St Helena. Slaves there had to wait another ten years.

And as I recall various legal shenanigans were employed to make sure the status of many “freed” slaves didn’t really change that much.


What was kind of interesting was what looked like slaves as an investment - middle class people in Shropshire or wherever owning one or two slaves in the Caribbean & leasing them out. I’d never considered that kind of thing, but I suppose it makes sense in the days of Change Alley. I think I’d only ever thought about slave ownership in this period of history as being a plantation (or home/business) kind of thing rather than something that could be so remote, like a horrible superannuation venture.

Irritating that the records aren’t fully searchable for slave owners…it’d be morbidly interesting to see if your family has any skeletons like this.


The article links to the searchable database of owners, is this not what you mean?


Could the situation in India partly be because of the complicated status of the Princely States? Not that the UK couldn’t have banned it in the princely states, but that would have been in conflict with the nominal degree of independence that they had.

Leasing out slaves seems to have been pretty common in the U.S., Dred Scott was leased out as was Frederick Douglass.

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I think the remoteness of slave-owners from their slaves is one reason why Britain could abolish slavery. The UCL database shows that some men who owned large numbers of slaves spoke in Parliament in favour of abolition.

Of course, this was abolition with compensation to slave-owners for the loss of their “property”, but I don’t think you would have seen a slave-owning Southern Congressman arguing for even that on the floor of the House.


Considering how prevalent slavery has been through out human history, if you go back far enough all of us are sure to have ancestors who owned slaves.

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The Brits always like to bring up how they abolished slavery before America did, but all they did was continue enslaving people in their own countries. You don’t conquer more of the world than any empire in history by selling franchises in tea and crumpet outlets.

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I’m generally quite annoyed at peoples outrage over slavery in the past as contrasted to their almost complete disregard of slavery as it exists today.Slavery in it’s classic form is alive and well and growing and ignored.

They were required to provide a further 4 years of 45/week labour to their former masters. I think this was framed as a kind of apprenticeship … :disappointed:

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Thank you! I’d followed another link which took me to Ancestry - for some reason the search there only lets you enter the first and middle name.

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