Thursday, 28 February 2013

Legacies of British Slave Ownership project

Yesterday, the University of Central London in England unveiled the results of a mighty project  - The Legacies of British Slave Ownership. The website is an amazing piece of work and well worth a look. The Encyclopedia of British Slave Ownership is part of the project

Slave owners could apply for compensation for loss of their "assets" when slavery was finally abolished in the British West Indies in 1833. The encyclopedia is made up from the applications to the Slave Compensation Commission from anyone who owned slaves (from a single slave to hundreds). Twenty million pounds was allocated by the British Government, all of which went to the owners rather than to the slaves themselves. The "freed" slaves were often tied to their former masters as indentured servants or "apprentices" for a period of years until they obtained their full freedom.

In the online search for the UCL website, I have found a William Fitzhenry, who owned 3 slaves in the parish Port Royal, Jamaica. He was awarded £63 16s 1d, and this claim was uncontested.
At present I know nothing more about this man, or the slaves.

I am indebted to Mr Ernest Wiltshire who has transcribed information from this book:

"The West Indies in 1837; being the Journal of a Visit to Antigua, Montserrat, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Jamaica; undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining the actual condition of the negro population of those islands" by Joseph Sturge & Thomas Harvey, London, Hamilton, Adams & Co. 1838. 

and posted it on this webpage. At the bottom of the page, is an entry for the parish St Thomas in the East, where Sir Henry Fitzhenry owned an estate named Grange Hill near Manchineal Bay. It suggests that there were at least 2 apprentices on the estate (4 years after slavery was abolished), a James Purton and a Louisa Burton, a cotton picker.

If anyone has any more information about William and Henry Fitzhenry (were they related?), please drop me an email here at the blog.

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