Legacies of British Slave-Ownership

'Legacies of British Slave-ownership' (2009-2012) and 'Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763-1833' (2013-2015).

The CSLBS is founded in two early projects based at UCL that trace the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain: the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-ownership project (2009-2012), and the ESRC and AHRC-funded Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763-1833 (2013-2015).

In 1833, Britain’s parliament finally abolished slavery in the British Caribbean, Mauritius, and the Cape. The slave trade had been abolished in 1807, but it had taken another 26 years to effect the emancipation of the enslaved. As part of the negotiated settlement, parliament granted £20 million in compensation to former slave-owners to be paid by British taxpayers. The records of the Slave Compensation Commission, set up to manage the distribution of the £20 million, provide a more or less complete census of slave-ownership in the British Empire in 1833.  These records provided the starting point for our first project, which culminated in the Legacies of British Slavery (LBS) database. The LBS database contains, first, the identities of all of the more than forty thousand slave-owners in the British Caribbean, Mauritius or the Cape at the moment of abolition in 1833. In the second phase of the project, we tracked back to 1763 the ownership histories of the four thousand estates identified in the first phase, which doubled the number of estates identified and added another twenty thousand slave-owners. Entries for individuals include information about the activities, affiliations and legacies of these men and women, with a particular emphasis on the absentee slave-owners based in Britain. Access the LBS database at ucl.ac.uk/lbs.

Project dates: 2009-2012 and 2013-2015.
Project team: Catherine Hall, Nick Draper, Keith McClelland, Rachel Lang, Katie Donington, James Dawkins, Kristy Warren, Hannah Young, Eric J. Graham.