Was Your British Ancestor a Slave Owner?

Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833. Those who had owned slaves were compensated at the time for their financial losses when they lost their slaves. Historians from University College London (UCL) have catalogued the 46,000 British subjects who were compensated by the British government for losing in total 800,000 slaves as a result of abolition. Descendants of the last British slave owners can now find out about their ancestors’ involvement.

These 46,000 slave owners were compensated a total of £20 million (£17 billion today). The research team discovered that it was not only the rich elite that had vested interest in slaves but also clergymen, shop owners and ‘ordinary’ members of the British middle classes. It is estimated that 10 per cent of Britons who died in the 18th century had benefited from slavery and that up to 15 per cent of the British elite were involved. Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha as well as actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Ben Affleck have all been revealed as having ancestors linked to the slave trade.

Legacies of British Slave-ownership is a combination of two projects based at the University College London tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain: the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-ownership project, now complete, and the ESRC and AHRC-funded Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763-1833, running from 2013-2015.

You can learn more about the Legacies of British Slave-ownership and also search the database for your ancestors by starting at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/.

3 Comments

Reblogged this on familytreegirldotcom and commented:
Dick Eastman’s Genealogy Newsletter is another excellent one to follow. Here is an overview and tips if your British Ancestor was a Slave Owner. So far in my ancestry, my British ancestry were not slave holders. Please follow his blog, there are lessons to learn and info to know.

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Very interesting. My extended family includes descendants of British/Jamaican planters and their mixed race (white by law) descendants and they are included in the lists on this site. I was a little surprised at the number of slaves held by the families.

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Don’t forget to use alternate spellings to search. The search engine does not use Soundex.
I tried the normal spelling in use in the US today for one of my family’s lineages. Zero hits. Then I tried one (of several) alternate spellings and got a reasonably lengthy list.

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