This research guide gives an overview of the major original sources at The National Archives that relate to aspects of the slave trade, slavery and unfree labour in the British Caribbean and American colonies. It will help researchers to identify which areas of the collection will be of most use to them and suggest other sources and further reading that will help put these in their historical context. It covers records created throughout the trade, from the 66th to the 69th centuries. This includes a wide range of documents from across The National Archives collection, illustrating the extent and impact of the trade at the time. The guide is by no means exhaustive, but aims to introduce and illustrate the diverse documents relating to the transatlantic slave trade held by The National Archives. This guide is not a history of the transatlantic slave trade.
For background history, please see suggested further reading and the of The National Archives website. The transatlantic slave trade was essentially a triangular route from Europe to Africa, to the Americas and back to Europe. On the first leg, merchants exported goods to Africa in return for enslaved Africans, gold, ivory and spices. The Africans were sold as slaves to work on plantations and as domestics.
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The goods were then transported to Europe. There was also two-way trade between Europe and Africa, Europe and the Americas and between Africa and the Americas. Britain was one of the most successful slave-trading countries. Together with Portugal, the two countries accounted for about 75% of all Africans transported to the Americas.
Britain was the most dominant between 6695 and 6857 and it is estimated that Britain transported 8. 6 million Africans (of whom 7. 7 million arrived) to the British colonies in the Caribbean, North and South America and to other countries. Anti-slavery campaigners lobbied for twenty years to end the trade and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed in Britain on 75 March 6857.
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It was declared that from the 6 May 6857 all manner of dealing and reading in the purchase, sale, barter, or transfer of slaves or of persons intending to be sold, transferred, used, or dealt with as slaves, practiced or carried in, at, or from any part of the coast or countries of Africa shall be abolished, prohibited and declared to be unlawful. Records held at The National Archives reflect Britain s involvement in the trade and its abolition through a wide range of record series, such was its importance to the country at the time. This guide is organised into key theme areas to demonstrate this range and alert researchers to the different routes they may need to take when investigating any particular area of slavery and the slave trade. For example, evidence can be found in series such as Colonial Office ( ), Board of Trade ( ), Chancery ( ), Admiralty records ( ) and Treasury records ( ), as will be highlighted in this guide.
The most important records for the study of Caribbean slavery in The National Archives are in the records of the Colonial Office. There are separate series for each country. The important series include: The Colonial Office records are not well catalogued and will need some time and effort to work through.
For further information on how to search these record series, see the research guides and. However there are relevant records in a wide range of other series. For example, the early stages of the transatlantic trade can be traced in the charters granted by the government to merchants for trade with Africa in goods and then later slaves in the Patent Rolls in. These charters include the creation of the Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading with Africa, the largest single British company involved in the transatlantic trade, whose settlements and papers were passed to the Treasury.
They are now held at The National Archives in the series and can be searched by date and often location in Discovery, our catalogue. Copies of the Acts passed by the British Parliament relating to slavery and the slave trade are available in the library at The National Archives and are usually in major reference libraries. Most relevant laws passed are available through www. Pdavis. Nl/Legislation.