Events & Workshops


Upcoming Events

200 years a slave: Croydon's slavery connections

Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon CR9 1DG

Monday 30 June, 7.00pm-9.00pm

Nick Draper will discuss Croydon's links with slave-ownership in the West Indies within the award context of slave compensation in the 1830s.
The event is free and there is no need to book.

An exhibition on Croydon's links with slavery will be on display at Fairfield Halls from Saturday 21st June.
For more information see the Croydon Heritage Festival website.

Previous Events

Legacies of European Colonial Slavery

Chadwick B05 Lecture Theatre, UCL, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT

12th March 2014, 6.00pm

Professor Catherine Hall from the LBS project and Professor Myriam Cottias of the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) in France will be lecturing jointly on the Legacies of European Colonial Slavery.

Colonial slavery profoundly shaped modern Europe – in France as well as in Britain. Yet while its legacies clearly reach into our world today, the extent and limits of slavery’s role in shaping history in different European imperial contexts has only relatively recently begun to attract scholarly attention. How have these histories been situated within national and public histories of slavery and the slave-trade in France and Britain? How can we map and analyse economic, social and cultural historical aspects of enslavement in both countries? How were national identities in Europe constituted in relation to the multiple ‘others’ of the colonies and their descendants?

Following the lecture, on Thursday 13 March, there will be a workshop for postgraduate doctoral students from London and Paris with Catherine Hall, Myriam Cottias and research staff from the associated projects.

The event has been organised by the UCL European Institute. Click the link for further details.

Rethinking Bloomsbury

Petrie Museum, Malet Place, Camden, London

Wednesday 26 March 2014, 6:00pm

The area of Bloomsbury is known for its connection to literature, culture, art and education. As the home of the Bloomsbury Group, it is an area in which many well-known writers have resided; it is also where several of London’s best loved museums and UCL’s main campus are located. However, aspects of its less well-known history have recently been explored by a number of UCL academics, seeking to re-evaluate Bloomsbury: including work on the presence of slave-owners, African and Asian students, and members of the LGBT community, as well as on the development of Egyptian Archaeology and eugenics.

The connections of these elements to each other, and of each to the area of Bloomsbury, will be the focus of a roundtable discussion entitled ‘Rethinking Bloombury’ which will be held on 26 March at the Petrie Museum. This interdisciplinary event has been organised by the Legacies of British Slave-ownership Project, History Department, UCL in conjunction with the Petrie Museum, UCL in order to facilitate a conversation between UCL-based projects which investigate these diverse yet connected Bloomsbury histories in order to gain a wider understanding of the history of UCL’s Bloomsbury campus and the surrounding district.

Representatives from each project will give a brief presentation about their work, after which all participants will engage in a roundtable discussion; this will be followed by questions from the audience. A reception will follow, giving everyone a chance to continue the conversation and investigate printed material related to each project.

Places are free but limited. To book a place, please visit our Eventbrite page.

The Structure of Slave Ownership in St Catherine, Jamaica and Nevis, 1817-1834.

19th February 2014, 5.30pm-7.30pm

UCL Institute of the Americas, 51 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PN

Kate Donington presented a paper on The structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership: a case study of St. Catherine, Jamaica.

The paper was based based on research undertaken on slave and estate ownership in the parish of St. Catherine in Jamaica. Different forms of slavery existed within the parish of St. Catherine, which encompassed both large scale sugar plantations as well as the urban centre of Spanish Town. This paper explored some of the initial findings including the identification of large scale plantation owners in the area and the networks established through commercial, familial and marital relationships. It ended with a brief case study of the Ellis family, early settlers in Jamaica who had made a fortune in plantation ownership.

Kristy Warren's paper was Using the Slave Registers as a Source for Gathering Information about the Enslaved: A case study of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Slave Registers provide a wealth of knowledge about enslaved people but also have limitations as a source. Drawing on the research of Barry Higman, the paper explored the possibilities and limits of these records by first providing a general overview of the registers and then examining the specific registers of St Kitts and Nevis, highlighting the similarities and differences between the records of each island. The paper also investigated some preliminary findings concerning the information the registers can provide about the lives of enslaved children in St. Kitts.

The Slave-owners of Battersea

Battersea Library, Lavendar Hill, London

Wed 30 Oct 2013 at 7pm

Workshop at Battersea Library to introduce, contextualise and demonstrate the LBS database, with participants able to explore the database online via PCs. Included a case study of the Hibberts - a slave-owning family who lived on Clapham Common, Northside. The event formed part of the Black History Month programme of Wandsworth Library and Heritage Service.


Britain's wealth and the Legacies of British Slave-ownership

Marcus Garvey Library, Harringey, London

Tue 29 Oct 2013, 5pm

Nicholas Draper gave a public lecture and demonstration of the LBS database to mark Black History Month and to coincide with the close of the Making Freedom Exhibition at the Marcus Garvey Library

For more information on Making Freedom, click here.


'Unearthed': tracing the Legacies of British Slave-ownership

Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden, London

Wed 23 Oct 2013 at 7pm

One of a series of pre-show talks given at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden, as part of the Paul Robeson Art is a Weapon Festival 20130.

For more information on the Art is a Weapon festival click here.


'Compensation for Barbados slave-owners'

Department of History and Philosophy, University of the West Indies

Wed 16 Oct 2013 at 2pm

Nicholas Draper gave the 29th Elsa Goveia Memorial lecture, a public lecture at the University of the West Indies Barbados, to an audience of c. 150. The text of the lecture was serialised in The Nation newspaper in Barbados.


Rethinking the memories of slavery

Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, Mandela Gardens, University of Hull

Fri 11 Oct 2013 at 6.30pm

This lecture, given by Catherine Hall, introduced the audience to the Legacies of British Slave-ownership research and database, argued for the importance of putting slave-ownership back into British history, and explored the ways in which Hull in particular has connections to that history. For more on the work of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, click here.


Uncovering connections between the East India Company and the Caribbean

Wed 3 Jul 2013, 12.30-14.00

Foyle Suite, Centre for Conservation, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

Chris Jeppesen, Research Associate at the UCL Department of History, talks about his recent work on the Library’s collections tracing links between the East India Company and the Caribbean through the movement and correspondence of families.

Historians have tended to draw a binary between British involvement in India and the Caribbean. Rarely, do they acknowledge the intricate connections between the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds that facilitated the transfer of people, capital and goods during the late eighteenth/early nineteenth centuries. Chris's ongoing research project based between UCL and the Library, has sought to uncover some of the connections between the East India Company and the Caribbean and to suggest ways that other interested researchers can expand our understanding of these links.

Crucial to many exchanges were family networks that spanned India, Britain and the Caribbean, allowing members access to opportunities that promised wealth and prestige. This talk will seek to demonstrate how by following one family - the Martins of Antigua - through the Library's collections, one can start to uncover the all too often ignored links between India and the Caribbean.

For contact details and a location map for the library, click here.


Lunch Hour Lecture: Britain and the legacies of slavery

1.15pm on Tue 11 Jun 2013

Wilberforce Theatre, Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay, Canary Wharf, London E14 4AL

Catherine Hall discussed Britain and the legacies of slavery at this lunch hour lecture.

Once abolition was secured, Britons were keen to overlook slavery and emphasise the memory of emancipation. But Britain and Britons benefited in multiple ways from slavery. By focusing on the role of the many slave-owners who lived here, should British history be reconsidered to take slavery into full account?

A discussion of the presence of slavery in contemporary London using the West India Dock and the Museum building itself as a starting point. Followed by a discussion of Charles and Henry Kingsley, descendants of a 5 generation West Indian family, and their contribution to debates about race in the aftermath of emancipation.

This lecture is available online here.


How African enslavement built Britain

Sat 18 May 2013 at 3pm

Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London

Public lecture and workshop given by Katie Donington and Nicholas Draper, organised with the Equiano Society in order to use the LBS project and the database to explore with an African-Caribbean audience the connections between slavery and the formation of modern Britain. An audience of some 150 people engaged for three hours with both the formal and informal sections of the event.


Between worlds: London and Africa, 1500-1833

Holborn Library, 32-28 Theobalds Road, London

Thu 16 May 2013 at 7pm

A lecture by Katie Donington and Miranda Kaufmann which explored the presence of Africans in London during the Tudor and Stuart periods and the ways in which London slave-owners profited from the exploitation of Africans during the slavery era. Hosted by the Camden Local History Society.


Slavery and the City, an urban exploration

Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London

Sat 26 Jan 2013 at 3pm

A presentation by Kate Donington and Nick Draper of work relating to slave-ownership and the City of London, providing the wider context of the financial and commercial importance of London to the slave-economy, and then focusing on George Hibbert's roles and legacies in the City. The presentation, including an introduction of the LBS Encyclopaedia, was followed by Q&A and discussion with the audience. It was held in conjunction with the This Is Not A Gateway (TINAG) Group.

For more information on TINAG click here.


Enterprising women: race and gender in the British Caribbean 1763-1840

5.30pm on Thu 2 May 2013

Room G34, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

In the spring of 1824 the Colonial Secretary was surprised to receive a visit from enormous old woman of almost totally black complexion wearing a colourful turban adorned with ostrich feathers and diamonds with a heavy necklace of golden Spanish doubloons and her great girth covered by a dress made from five pound notes. She arrived unannounced and insisted on an interview with the Colonial Secretary to protest a colonial tax in the colony of Demerara that discriminated against free women of colour such as her. Lord Bathurst was so impressed her magisterial presence that he promptly had the law repealed.

The old woman was Dorothy Thomas, an illiterate ex-slave born around 1765 who had purchased her own freedom and that of her family. By the time she made her assault on the Colonial Office she was reputed to be the richest resident in Demerara, and had financial connections to some of the biggest merchant houses in the Atlantic. A colonial subject such as Dorothy Thomas came as a surprise to Lord Bathurst and she comes as no less a surprise to us.

In her paper Cassandra Pybus (University of Sydney) explored the life of the extraordinary woman who became known as “the Queen of Demerara”.

For a map showing the location of the Institute of Historical Research, click here.


The Slave-owners of Bloomsbury: An Exhibition

From 6 Mar 2013, Holborn Library, 32-38 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8PA

Our Slave-owners of Bloomsbury exhibition is currently on display in the lending section of Holborn Public Library.

Alongside Bloomsbury's associations with literary and cultural gentility runs a less comfortable story of exploitation and oppression, and the exhibition maps many of the British colonial slave-owners who settled in the area's streets and squares in the 18th and 19th centuries. But slavery was only part of the connections between Africans and the area, and the exhibition also celebrates these other African presences.

For contact details, opening hours and a location map for the library, click here.


LBS workshop at the National Archives

2pm-3pm, Tue 26 March 2013, National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU

Nick Draper and Keith McClelland ran a workshop about the LBS database at the National Archives on 26th March at 2pm with a practical demonstration of its relevance to local and family historians and a discussion about the wider implications of our research.

If you are interested in the importance of slave-ownership for your region, area, town or village in Britain; or if your family had connections with the Caribbean; or if you are descended from enslaved people; this database is potentially important to you.

Understanding the role of slavery in the formation of British Society: industrialisation and slavery

Mon 5 March 2013 at 2pm

Queen Mary University of London

Talk given by Nicholas Draper as a contribution to the British and Asian Studies Assocation consultation on the proposed new National Curriculum for History, public meeting attended by Pam Raven, Department for Education.


Launch of the project website

27 Feb 2013, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Main Building, University College London 5:30pm

On Wednesday 27th February 2013, Catherine Hall gave a public lecture entitled 'Towards a new past: the legacies of British Slave-ownership' to celebrate the publication of this Encyclopaedia of British Slave-ownership and the inauguration of our new project, The Structure and Significance of British Caribbean Slave-ownership, 1763-1833. The event was followed by a demonstration of the Encyclopaedia by Nick Draper and Keith McClelland.

For a film of the lecture, click here.

Neale Lecture 2012

29th March 2012, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Main Building, University College London 5:30pm

The Neale Conference opened with a free public lecture by Prof Robin Blackburn (Essex) on "Slavery and Finance in Britain's Empire of Free Trade". It was followed by a reception.

Neale Conference 2012

30th-31st March 2012, Old Refectory, Main Building, University College London

The colloquium presented the findings of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership project and engaged with current work exploring the importance of slavery and slave-ownership in the re-making of the British imperial world after abolition in 1833.

The Slave-owners of Bloomsbury: an exhibition

10th October 2011 - 18th January 2012 - South Cloisters, Main Building, University College London

To mark Black History Month, the project organised a free exhibition examining the contentious lives and legacies of slave-owners living close to UCL at the moment of the university's foundation in the early nineteenth century.


Regional workshops and research in 2010

During 2010 we held a series of workshops in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Newcastle with the aim of building a network of people interested in slave-ownership and its legacies in nineteenth-century Britain.

Each workshop included a presentation by the LBS team outlining the scope of the LBS project and a presentation on slave-ownership relevant to each regional audience. Members of local communities discussed their work and their plans for future research, and for the presentation of material previously solicited from the audience. The audience responded through structured Q&A sessions and gave very valuable feedback from each day.

These workshops were part of UCL's Public Engagement Initiative and were funded by the Beacon Innovation Seed Fund.

Resulting research

One important aspect of the research, presented by both the LBS team and workshop participants in Glasgow, concerned Scotland and slave-ownership. It has long been understood that Scots had a disproportionate presence in Caribbean slavery as part of the participation in the 'opportunities of Empire'. One dimension of this was Scottish slave-ownership. While it is possible to argue that the high point of this was at the end of the period of slave-ownership in the 1830s – though we cannot be certain – we believe that people living in Scotland accounted for at least 15% of absentee owners at a point when the Scottish population was less than 10% of the UK population as a whole. One of the largest single groups receiving compensation were Glasgow merchants, despite the prior absence of a significant direct participation in the slave trade. In total, Glasgow merchants took about 10% of the compensation paid to British merchants. However, it must also be noted that there is a question about what constitutes a Scot when we discuss 'Scottish slave-owners': a significant number of recipients of compensation money were Scots who had moved to England or whose families had their origins in Scotland.