the Atlantic slave trade

from The Independent:


The shocking scale of British slave ownership has been revealed in scores of official records which have found that thousands of modern-day Britons are related to owners who received huge sums in compensation when the trade was abolished.

A five-year project by University College London has compiled the identities of 46,000 Britons who owned slaves, mainly in the West Indies, on the day slavery was abolished in 1833.

David Cameron, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Affleck and George Orwell are just some of the high profile descendants of the slave owners revealed in the files.

Records from the Slave Compensation Commission show that some 800,000 Africans were freed upon abolition after being kept as legal property.

Upon their liberation the Commission paid out the modern equivalent of £17 billion in compensation to the UK’s tens of thousands of owners – the largest government pay-out prior to the bailout of the banks in 2009.

The colossal sum represented 40 per cent of government expenditure in 1834.


compensation: equivalent today of $30,000 (US) per formerly enslaved person

so on average each former owner received 800/46 times that: $520,000 (US)


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