Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership

Hey guys! While trolling the internet I came across this project called the Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership that a team from the University College London, led by Dr. Draper, is about to unveil tomorrow. It is a online database that details who received reparation money – and how much – when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833. An article from the Independent about this project states that £20m, or about 40% of the Treasury’s annual spending budget, was given to various slave owners for the loss of their property, and that about 1/5 of all wealthy Victorians received their fortunes partly or totally from the slave trade. It describes it as “potentially embarrassing” for the descendants of those wealthy Victorians, like David Cameron, who in essence are still benefitting from their ancestors’ slave ownership. This project really highlights the relatively unchanged relationship between the Core countries and the periphery (Barbados is specifically mentioned in the article as seeking reparation for the cruelties inflicted on the slaves).

Here’s an excerpt from the article (although I encourage anyone who is intrigued to read it in its entirety, it’s fascinating!):

Dr Draper said: “Seeing the names of the slave-owners repeated in 20th‑century family naming practices is a very stark reminder about where those families saw their origins being from. In this case I’m thinking about the Hogg family. To have two Lord Chancellors in Britain in the 20th century bearing the name of a slave-owner from British Guiana, who went penniless to British Guyana, came back a very wealthy man and contributed to the formation of this political dynasty, which incorporated his name into their children in recognition – it seems to me to be an illuminating story and a potent example.”

Mr Hogg refused to comment yesterday, saying he “didn’t know anything about it”. Mr Cameron declined to comment after a request was made to the No 10 press office.

The actual database can be accessed tomorrow here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership

  1. Nathan Hensley says:

    This is a stunning thing, Bernadette– thanks for posting. It might interest others to know that Wilkie Collins’s most “literary” novel — or at least, the one he hoped people would find the most literary– was explicitly about this sort of financial tracking. The novel is _Armadale_ (1866), and it tracks (peripheral) slave money from Barbados as it’s transferred, or laundered?, into a (core) countryside manor house. Here’s a link to some info about it: http://www.wilkie-collins.info/books_armadale.htm. Hope some of you read it someday! NH

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *