Middle-Class Londoners Who Bought Into Slavery, Derry Nairn, History Today, November 14, 2008.
New research by University College London has revealed that massive amounts of government compensation were paid out to investors when slavery was abolished in the 19th century. Dr Nick Draper has discovered that £20 million worth of payments were made, a figure that equates to a staggering 40% of government expenditure of the day.
Even more surprising are the backgrounds to the recipients. The image many today would hold of slave owners may involve upper class affectations and West Indian sugar plantations. The truth however, is that many ordinary middle-class Londoners invested in the slave trade just like it was any other industry. Some of the 'slavers' revealed by Draper's research include poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, MP George Watson Taylor, Lord Mayor John Atkins and lawyer J W Freshfield.
Dr Draper commented:
‘It's important that we recognise the ways in which slavery permeates London's history, not only through direct slave-ownership by Londoners but also through more complex financial and commercial ties between the slave-system and people living and working in London. Slavery was not the only influence on London's development, but it was an important one, especially in areas such as Marylebone, and is too often overlooked.'
Text Source: History Today, November 14, 2008.
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