The Database

At the core of the completed project is this online Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership containing information about (1) every slave-owner in the British Caribbean, Mauritius or the Cape at the moment of abolition in 1833; (2) all the estates we have identified in the British Caribbean in the period 1763-1833; and (3) all the slave-owners, attorneys, mortgagees and legatees we have identified to date for the estates between 1763 and 1833. Entries for individuals 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 Encyclopaedia. The records for the estates between 1763 and 1833 are more fragmented. These are discussed in more detail in the section on [Sources for the Estates] elsewhere in this website.

Please note that the records we have concern slave-owners; regrettably, we do not have systematic information on the enslaved themselves, although we are working to link our data to the Registers of the enslaved people, a limited but - in comparison with the silence of the rest of the archive - nevertheless a rich source on the enslaved people that were produced for most British colonies every three years in the period c. 1817-1834.

The registers of the enslaved are held by the National Archives; you can read a brief account of them on the Moving Here: UK Government Web Archive site.
(The Moving Here pages are no longer maintained: see Moving Here archived pages.)

There is also an enormous amount of information about the enslaved in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

If you have any questions, please contact us. We also welcome further information on slave-owners. For more details on how to submit information, please see the contribute page.

Audio and Video

The following is a podcast by the project team about the original project and its aims:

And you can also see a short video of Catherine Hall talking about the original project: