Extended Timeline

Transatlantic Slavery

The following is a list of key events in the history of British Transatlantic Slavery was compiled by the wonderful LBS project.

1552

Foundation of Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers

1562

John Hawkins’ slave-trading voyage to Africa and Hispaniola

1607

Founding of Jamestown, Virginia.

1619

First recorded landing of enslaved Africans in Virginia

1623

English landing at St Kitts, established as a colony 1624

1625

Barbados claimed for England

1626

First recorded landing of enslaved Africans in St Kitts

1628

English settlement of Nevis

1632

English settlement of Antigua and Montserrat

1635

French settlement of Martinique and Guadeloupe

1637

Sugar introduced in Barbados

1639

First sitting of House of Assembly in Barbados

1640

Sugar introduced in St Kitts

1646

Sir Thomas Browne’s critique of slavery in Vulgar Errors

1648

French settlement of St Barths

1655

Seizure of Jamaica (ceded formally by Spain 1670)

1659

French settlement of St Domingue

1661-2

‘Navigation Acts’ reconfirmed inter-regnum legislation governing colonial trade

1664

First sitting of Jamaican House of Assembly

1672

Establishment of Royal African Company

1680

Morgan Godwyn’s Negro & Indian Friend

1688

Pennsylvania Quakers publish Germantown Protest against slavery

1698

End of RAC monopoly in slave-trade

1706

Judgement of Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt that enslaved became free in England

1713

St Kitts ceded (back) to Britain; ‘asiento’ (contract to supply slaves to Spanish colonies) awarded to Britain by Treaty of Utrecht

1729

Sir Philip Yorke’s Opinion contradicting Sir John Holt, upholding slavery

1730

Outbreak of 1st Maroon War in Jamaica between autonomous communities of escaped enslaved and the white settlers, ended only by treaty of 1739

1732

Credit Act made enslaved chattel for payment of debts

1733

Molasses Act

1735-6

Enslaved rising in Antigua

1743

General Rules of Methodist Church prohibit buying and selling of slaves

1750

Company of Merchants Trading to Africa founded

1760

Tacky’s Rebellion in Jamaica

1763

Cession to Great Britain of Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent & Tobago

1765

Granville Sharp begins legal campaign against slavery in Britain in case of Jonathan Strong

1772

Mansfield’s decision in James Somerset[t] case

1774

Publication of John Wesley’s Thoughts on Slavery

1775

First anti-slavery society founded in Philadelphia

1776-1783

American War of Independence

1777

Slavery abolished in Vermont

1778

Final decision in Knight vs Wedderburn provides qualified confirmation slavery has no legal status in Scotland

House of Commons appoints Committee to investigate slave trade

1783

‘Zong’ Case tried

‘Quaker anti-slavery petition to Parliament

1786

Thomas Clarkson’s Essay on slavery publ.

1787

1st Sierra Leone settlement of former enslaved

London Committee for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave-trade formed.

Ottobah Cugoano’s Thoughts & Sentiments published

1788

Privy Council Inquiry into the slave trade

Dolben’s Act regulating slave trade

1789

Report of Privy Council Inquiry published

Committee of the Whole on the slave trade in Commons

Publication of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative

1789-1799

The French Revolution

1790

Wilberforce’s first motion on slave trade in Commons

Commons Select Committee on the Slave Trade

1791

St Domingue revolution begins (August)

Wilberforce’s motion on prohibition of slave trade to BWI defeated 88-163 in Commons April 21 1791.

1792

1792 (cont.)

Denmark initiates abolition of its slave trade

Sierra Leone established as private company

Wilberforce’s motion (amended by Dundas) ‘That the slave trade ought to be gradually abolished’, passed 230-85 (April) in Commons.

Commons passes 151-132 a bill to abolish the slave trade as of January 1 1796 (sent to Lords May 3). HofL Inquiry established

1793

War with France (February). Defeat of motion that the Commons go into Committee of Whole on slave trade and on a bill to prohibit trade with foreign territories. HofL votes to delay consideration of slave trade until next session.

1794

France abolishes slavery in its colonies (reversed 1802).

US Congress forbids use of US vessels in slave-trade

Wilberforce’s bill to prohibit slave trade to foreign territories passes in Commons, defeated in HofL.

1795

2nd Maroon War in Jamaica

Carib War in St Vincent

Fedon’s Rebellion in Grenada 1795-7

Consideration of Wilberforce’s annual bill postponed by 17 votes in Commons

1796

British capture from Dutch of Essequibo, Demerara & Berbice (1831=British Guiana)

Loss of abolition motion 74-70 in Commons

1797

Surrender of Trinidad to British fleet

Cape (seized 1795) becomes British colony until 1803

Loss of abolition motion by 8 votes in Commons

1798

Abolition motion fails 83-87 in Commons. Bill to prohibit slave trade on 1000 miles of African coast passes Commons 59-23, fails 63-68 in HoL

1799

Abolition motion fails 54-84 in Commons, bill restricting slave-trade on African Coast passes Commons 59-23, lost in HoL 25-32.

Slave Transportation Act further regulates conduct of slave trade.

Gradual Emancipation of slaves in New York State

1802

Return of Essequibo etc. to Dutch (retaken by Britain 1803).

Opening of West India Docks

1804

Republic of Haiti declared

Abolition motion passed Commons 69-33, postponed by HoL to next session

1805

Abolition motion defeated in Commons (March)

Order-in-council prohibiting importation of slaves into colonies captured since 1802 (August)

1806

Cape Colony re-established by Britain

Abolition of the slave trade to foreign colonies; approval in both houses of a resolution by Charles James Fox for ultimate abolition of the slave trade; limiting of African slave trade to those ships already engaged in it

1807

US ban slave-trade as from 1808

Abolition of the slave trade to British colonies, by a bill introduced by Grenville into HoL, and then passed by Commons 283-16

1808

Formation of British West Africa Squadron

1810

Capture of Mauritius from France (confirmed by Treaty of Paris 1814)

1814

St Lucia ceded to Britain; Essequibo etc. ceded to Britain

Congress of Vienna, raising prospect of resumption of French slave trade

Mass petitioning and parliamentary campaign against restoration of the slave trade

1816

Bussa’s Rebellion in Barbados

1816-19

Establishment of Slave Registers following Trinidad (1813) and St Lucia (1815), Slave Registration Act (1817)

1817

Spain agrees with Britain to end slave-trade north of equator immediately and south of the equator by 1820

1823

Demerara Revolt

Motion by T.F. Buxton discarded in favour of ‘Canning’s Resolutions’, ameliorationist statements of intent towards ultimate emancipation

Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Dominions (‘the Anti-Slavery Society’) founded in London

1824

Death of John Smith in prison in Demerara

Elizabeth Heyrick’s Immediate not gradual abolition published

1825

Mauritius sugar admitted to Britain at WI preferential rate

Launch of Antislavery Monthly Reporter

1831

‘Baptist War’ in Jamaica breaks out (December)

Formation of Agency Committee within Anti-slavery Society

History of Mary Prince published.

1832

Select Committee of Commons on Extinction of Slavery; HoL Committee on the Condition & Treatment of Colonial Slaves

1833

Abolition Act

1834

Apprenticeship begins

1836

Commons Select Committee on Apprenticeship

1838

Apprenticeship ends: emancipation of the enslaved in most of the British colonies

1839

‘Hill coolie’ controversy over indentured labour in British Guiana and Mauritius

Commons passes bill suspending constitution of Jamaica

Formation of British and Foreign Anti-slavery Society

1843

Delegalization of slavery in India

Resumption of shipments of indentured labourers to Mauritius

1846

Equalization of Sugar Duties begins

1848

Abolition of French colonial slavery

1865

Morant Bay Rising in Jamaica

1866

Jamaican House of Assembly replaced by Legislative Council and Crown Colony status