- the following figures are not exact and are the subject of on-going research across the world -
Between 1698 to 1807 about 2,108 slaving ships were fitted out in Bristol
- an average of 20 a year.
On average each ship would hold 250 Africans.
The total number of Africans taken as slaves by Bristol fitted ships was approximately a half a million people.
This total is about one fifth of the slaves transported in British ships.
The total number of Africans taken by British ships was around 2,800,000 people.
Ships which left Bristol to trade in slaves did so officially from 1698.
1668-1708. 4 ships a year left Bristol to trade in slaves.
1708 - 1712. The number of ships had risen to 13 a year. This represented about 13% of Bristol clearances.*
At this time Bristol provided much of the impetus for the British trade in slaves.
By the early 1720s. The number of clearances rises to 25 a year.
1728 - 1732. The number rises to 48 a year. This was half the number of ships involved in the slave trade. Bristol had replaced London as the major slave trading port in Britain. This number of ships represented about 12% of Bristol's total clearances..
1738. Liverpool became the major slave trading port in Britain. A position it held until the trade was ended in 1807.
Bristol's slave trade began to decline and was especially interrupted by warfare between 1744-46 and 1755-58.
After 1748 the number of ships involved in the slave trade leaving Bristol declined and the city's share of the national trade reduced to 25% in the 1750s and, by the time of abolition, it represented 2% of Britain's slave trade. When abolition came, therefore there was little opposition from the Bristol merchant community.
*As ships fitted out for the slave trade spent longer at sea (up to 15 months) and were generally larger than most vessels leaving the port, the ships involved in the slave trade constitute a larger percentage of the overall clearances than these figures may suggest.
The slave trade also stimulated the demand for the shipment of goods to the West African coast. These included: Brass, Copper, Glassware and Gunpowder.
The ships were also used to re-export goods; cotton goods from India, Swedish bar-iron, Italian beads, German linen.
"I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery!". Samuel "Daddy" Sharpe, 1832
1522 - Haiti/San Domingo.
1523 - Haiti/San Domingo.
1537 - Haiti/San Domingo.
1548 - Haiti/San Domingo.
1622 - Barbados.
1630 - Santa Catalina.
1635 - (Old) Providence Island, escaped slaves set up independent settlements.
1639 - St Kitts.
1649 - Barbados. Conspiracy to rebel betrayed and frustrated.
1656 - Guadaloupe. Revolt lead by Angolans.
1656 - Jamaica.
English military commanders whose forces invaded this Spanish colony reported,
"The Negroes....live by themselves in several parties, and...do very often, as our men go into the woods...destroy and kill them with their launces...our English...seldom killing any of them."
(see Admiral Sir William Penn).
1663, September 13th, - Virginia. First serious slave conspiracy in Colonial America, Sept. 13. Servant betrayed plot of White servants and Black slaves in Gloucester County.
1670 - Jamaica. Reward offered for Juan de Serras, leader of one of the free settlements on the island.
1673 - Jamaica. Rebellion in parish of St. Ann. About 200 freed slaves escape to the mountains and are never dislodged.
18th cent. map of Jamaica showing 14 parishes.
1674 - Jamaica.
1675 - Jamaica. martial law declared, 35 slaves executed for conspiracy in Parish of St Mary. Slave leaders identified as Peter, Scanenburg and Doctor.
1675 - Barbados. Conspiracy uncovered across a large number of plantations. 110 slaves charged with conspiracy, 52 are executed - six of whom are burned alive while 11 are beheaded. 5 of the conspirators took their own life before trial.
1678 - Jamaica. Martial Law declared in connection with uprisings at Caymanas in St. Catherine.
1679 - Haiti/San Domingo.
1683 - Jamaica. Conspiracy involving 180 slaves is betrayed in Vere.
1685 - Jamaica. Rebellion on 4 plantations at Guanaboa Vale. 7 rebels are killed and 50 captured, 63 escape.
1686 - Jamaica. A guerrilla band numbering 40 - 100 slaves whose ship had been wrecked of the island are reported operating in St. Mary, St. George and St. Thomas ye Vale.
1686 - Barbados. Conspiracy reported between Irish indentured servants and black slaves. 18 Irish servants arrested but later freed, 20 slaves executed.
1685-88 - Jamaica. 52 slaves executed for rebellious behaviour.
1690 - Jamaica. 500 slaves rebel at Suttons in Clarendon. Some 150 armed rebels establish a strong settlement in the central mountains.
1691 - Haiti/San Domingo.
1692 - Barbados. Conspiracy to massacre discovered. Over 200 arrested. Three leaders are identified as Hammon, Ben and Sambo. Ben and Sambo are tortured (gibbeted) and Sambo dies before being tried. Hammon and Ben confess when promised a reprieve but are executed along with 92 others. This rebellion was to have been extensive the leaders planning to take over the entire island of Barbados.
1702 - Jamaica.
1704 - Jamaica. Insurrection involving 30 slaves, 12 of whom die. The island Governor reported that "the ringleaders were taken and executed and the rest sent off the island".
1708 - Barbados. Slaves executed in an attempt to burn down Bridgetown and take the fort.
1708 - Long Island (New York).
1712, April 7th - New York. Nine whites killed. Twenty-one slaves executed.
1718 - Jamaica. Reports that rebels are freeing slaves from plantations.
1719 - St. Vincent. The 'Black Caribs' (the descendants of slaves and Carib Amirindians) ambush and defeat a French force of 400.
1723 - St. Vincent. The 'Black Caribs' turn back a British expedition which tries to incur onto the island.
1728-29 - Jamaica. Troops sent from Britain to assist the local militia. This causes the escaped slaves to come together in two main groupings. This is the start of the Maroon Wars.
1729 - Cuba.
1730-40 -1st Maroon War, Jamaica. The Windwood Maroons were lead by Nanny and the Leeward Maroons were lead by Cudjoe. Nanny ruled as an African Queen and a beah Woman and carried on African culture and traditions amongst her people. When there was fighting the women and children under her protection would hide in 'Girls' Town' or 'Women's Town' in the John Crow Mountains. Nanny made a vow on Pumpkin Hill in 1737 to fight the British to death. When she did sign the treaty with the British she was wearing the teeth of her dead British enemies. She established Nanny Town which is still in existence. In 1977 she was awarded the posthumous honour of 'National Heroine'.
1730 - Virginia. Slave conspiracy discovered in Norfolk and Princess Anne counties.
1733 - Berbice,(Guyana). Rebellion on plantations in the Canje River. Rebels escaped to Suriname and joined existing rebel forces. Rebellions were suppressed on the Peterhoff Plantation and Plantation Switzerland that same year.
1733 - The Virgin Islands. Rebellion on St. John island, 40 white people reported killed.
1736 - Antigua. 88 executions of those who revolted
1739 - Jamaica. Cadjoe, the leader of the Maroons, signs peace treaty with the British.
1739 - South Carolina, 3 uprisings. Slave revolt in Stono, September 9th. Twenty-five whites killed before insurrection was put down. The Stono Rebellion happened southwest of Charleston in Stono, South Carolina. Sixty-five Black and White people died. The insurrection started with 20 slaves marching southwest toward St. Augustine with 'colours flying and two drums beating' .It was the most serious revolt on the American mainland.
1741 - New York. A series of suspicious fires and reports of slave conspiracy led to general hysteria in City, March and April. Thirty-one slaves, five Whites were executed.
1746 - Jamaica.
1749 - Berbice (Guyana). On Plantation Peterhoff most of the slaves tried to take over the plantation but were prevented due to the intervention of other slaves on the owners behalf.
1751 - Haiti/San Domingo.St. Over 3,000 Maroons on this French island, lead by Mackendal, plotted to poison every watering hole in the capitol, kill all the whites and take over the island. He was betrayed and burnt alive.
1751 - South Carolina. because of the great number of poisonings of white slave owners the legislature enacted a law making the death penalty mandatory. The number of arson attacks lead to a proposal to prevent the construction of wooden buildings.
1752 - Berbice (Guyana). On Plantation Switzerland slaves rebelled but slaves from Plantation de Poerboom and Amirindians were used against them.
1752 - Martinique.
1760 - Jamaica. Two major rebellions, one smaller one and many conspiracies were discovered. The first rebellion is known as, 'Tacky's Revolt', in the parish of St. Mary. It took two army regiments, the local militia and the use of marines from a British warship allied with Maroon mercenaries to quell the rebellion. This was immediately followed by a small rebellion at Manchioneal in St. Thomas, this was put down. However, on June 2nd an extremely large rebellion took place on plantations in Westmoreland. It is thought to have involved some 600 slaves who came up against 3 army companies, the militia from the three western parishes and 100 marines. Yet by November 7th the Lieutenant Governor thought that the rebellion had not been completely put down. The Lieutenant Governor also reported the discovery of four other conspiracies in the parishes of Clarendon, St. John, St. Dorothy and St. Thomas in the east of the island. The leaders of these rebellions were treated thus: burned alive, hung in irons and starved, 400 were executed, 600 were transported to the Bay of Honduras in Central America.
1761 - Nevis.
1762 - Berbice (Guyana). In July 36 slaves rebelled and escaped collecting further slave recruits along the way. They defeated attempts of capture but were finally defeated.
1763 - Corentyne (Guyana). Slaves on Plantation Magdelenberg rose up and obtained arm. They gathered further recruits from other plantations and joined the Maroons (Djukas) in Suriname.
1763 - Berbice (Guyana). Under the leadership of Cuffee rebels gained control of the southern Berbice while the north was retained by the slave-owning whites. However due to splits in the rebels leadership and the arrival of Dutch reinforcements the rebels were defeated.
1763 onwards - Florida. Continual armed resistance by runaway slaves who combined with Seminole Indians, to rule by Spanish, British, French and, eventually, by white 'Americans'.
1765 - Bay of Honduras (Belize). A number of slaves, including some of those deported from Jamaica in the 1760 rebellion rose up and escaped from their owners.
1765 - Jamaica. A ill-timed uprising in St. Mary lead to defeat and 13 slaves were executed while another 33 were transported to be sold.
1766 - Jamaica. Between 33 - 45 slaves rebelled in Westmoreland - those not killed during the rebellion were executed after capture.
1769 - Jamaica. Conspiracy for a rebellion was betrayed. Many slaves were put to a 'painful' death.
1773, January 6th - Massachusetts. Slaves petitioned the legislature for their freedom. There is a record of 8 petitions during American Revolutionary War period.
1783 - The American Revolution ends. Looses her 14 Mainland colonies. About 5,000 black men (slave and free) helped America gain independence from Britain. At first they were kept out of the American army but were allowed to fight once Britain had offered freedom if slaves fought for them.
1791 - Haiti/San Domingo. Successful revolt lead by Toussaint L'Overture which humiliated the French army starts, it continues for 12 years when, with the final defeat of Bonaparte's 1803 expedition the black state of Haiti is established. Over the 12 years the rebels defeated first the local armed white population, the soldiers of the French monarchy, a Spanish invasion, 60,000 men of a British force until, finally, defeating a force of similar size under the generalship of Bonaparte's brother-in-law.
Extract from cover of "The Black Jacobins" by CLR James
1795-96 - Jamaica. 2nd Maroon War.
1772-83 - St. Vincent. The 'Black Caribs' (with support from the French) started warring with the British. Under a treaty in 1783 peace between the British and the 'Black Caribs' was reestablished.
1795 - St Vincent. Warring recommenced between the 'Black Caribs' and the British. On March 10th the Carib leader, Chatoyer was killed in battle. The 'Black Caribs' were finally defeated and deported to the mainland of Central America. Their descendants are now known as the Garafuni and make up about 8% of the population of Belize.
1795-96 - Grenada. Grenada was ceded to the British by the French (Treaty of 1763) this put not only the slave population in opposition to the new masters but also the French population and the French speaking mulattos who were Roman catholic and were discriminated against. The Election Act of 1792 meant that candidates had to be white and Protestant. Julian Fedon was a mulatto planter who was inspired by the ideals of the French revolution and, in 1975, was elected as the Granada representative of the French Revolution. He is said to have freed his slaves who joined in rebellion with others on the island. 700 British troops opposed the rebels but were routed at first. When the British fleet arrived in June with reinforcements of a further 700 troops the rebels were forced onto the retreat. Fighting continued for one and a half years until slavery was reimposed on the island. 38 leaders of the rebellion were executed but Fedon himself was never captured.
1795 - Jamaica. Acting under instructions from the Earl of Balcarres, who was the Lieutenant Governor, troops attacked one of the 5 Maroon 'towns' on the island. This started the 2nd Maroon war. The Governor thought the War would last a few days but it lasted four and a half months with the British having to, once again, sign a peace treaty with the maroons. In accordance with the terms of the treaty the Maroons involved gave up their arms. The island Assembly then agreed to the transportation of the maroons involved. They were eventually sent to Sierra Leone.
1798 - Jamaica. 19 escaped slaves moved to the area formally occupied by the Maroons of the 2nd Maroon War. The island government sent troops against them, some were killed but others survived.
1799 - Jamaica. When French slave owners brought their slaves to Jamaica to escape the Haiti revolution a conspiracy was discovered and around 1,000 slaves were deported.
1800, August 30th - Virginia. Gabriel Prosser's revolt. Prosser wanted to establish a black state in Virginia. A storm forced the suspension of an attack on Richmond, by Prosser and some 1,000 slaves. Conspiracy was betrayed by two slaves. Prosser and fifteen of his followers were hanged on October 7th. Some sources say that 35 slaves executed.
1803 - Jamaica. Conspiracy discovered in Kingstown and two slaves executed.
1806 - Jamaica. Conspiracy discovered in St. George, one slave executed and 5 others deported.
1807 - Brazil.
1808 - British Guiana. Slave revolt by 'drivers, tradesmen and other sensible slaves on the estate, i.e. not by the field slaves but by those who received 'better' treatment.
1808 - Jamaica. 50 involuntary slave recruits of the 2nd. west India Regiment mutinied at Fort Augusta killing two officers.
1809 - Jamaica. Conspiracy discovered in Kingstown, two slaves hanged and others transported.
1809 - Brazil.
1811 - Puerto Rico.
1811, January 8th - 10th - Louisiana. Slaves revolted in two parishes about 35 miles from New Orleans. The revolt, the largest slave revolt in the United States was suppressed by U.S. troops.
1813 - Brazil.
1815 - Jamaica. Major conspiracy discovered involving around 250 Ibo slaves, their leaders were hanged.
1816 - Barbados. Bussa's Revolt. The main revolt lasted 4 days while skirmishes and Martial Law lasted for 89 days. Between 3,900 to 5,000 rebel slaves involved. Only a premature start to the rebellion enabled the white population to gain an upper hand otherwise at least large portions of the island would have gone to the rebels. Captured rebels, when questioned, said that ill-treatment was not the cause of their revolt but that the island belonged to them and they were going to kill every white man on it. 214 slaves executed, 123 transported were the official figures. The real death total is thought to be something like 1,000 slaves killed and executed. Bussa was thought to be the main leader of the rebellion other leaders included Jackey, Davis, King Wiltshire, Dick Bailey, Johnny and a woman named Nanny Grigg.
1816 - Florida. Three hundred fugitive slaves and about 20 Native American allies held Fort Blount on Apalachicola Bay, for several days before it was taken by U.S. Troops.
1819-1829 - Trinidad. Constant fighting between troops and runaway slaves.
1822, May 30th - South Carolina. A 'House slave' betrayed the Denmark Vesey conspiracy, one of the most elaborate slave plots on record which took Denmark Vesey four years to put together. It involved thousands of slaves in Charleston and its vicinity and their seeking aid from Haiti. The authorities arrested 131 slaves and four whites. Thirty-seven were hanged. Vesey and five of his aides hanged at Blake's Landing, Charleston, on July 2nd.
1822 - Puerto Rico.
1823 - Puerto Rico.
1823 - Jamaica. Conspiracy discovered, leaders executed.
1823 - Demerara (Guyana). This started as a refusal to work on 50 plantations by some 13,000 slaves. The slaves under Christian missionary influence believed in pacifism. They also believed that slavery had been abolished by British Parliament. They were met with a show of force by the British troops and were massacred. The bullet riddled body of Quamina, bound in chains, was put on public show. John Smith, missionary, was accused of inciting the rebellion was tried and found guilty. He died in prison. His death stirred more anti-slavery opinion in Britain than the deaths of the many who had died from the guns of British troops. The governor of Barbados wrote, "Now the ball has begun to roll no one can say where or when it is going to stop."
1824 - Jamaica. Conspiracy discovered in Hanover and suppressed by a large military force. 11 slaves hanged others transported or flogged. Also, at the other end of Jamaica 4 rebels were hanged. Slaves had to be restrained from interfering with the executions. One of the leaders said that the revolt had not been subdued but that "the war had only just begun."
1826 - Brazil.
1827 - Brazil.
1828 - Brazil.
1829, August 10th - Cincinnati, Ohio. Revolt by whites against free blacks in the city. Many blacks, over 1,000, flee the city for Canada.
1829-30 - Louisiana and North Carolina.
1830 - Brazil.
1831 - Antigua.
1831, August 21st - 22nd - Virginia. Nat Turner's revolt in Southampton county in South West Virginia. He lead 70 slaves who within 24 hours had managed to kill 57 whites and march on the county seat town of Jerusalem where they were met by a local armed unit and forced to give ground as their ammunition started to give out. Later troops and militia slaughtered the rebels. About 18 of the rebels were hanged. Nat Turner was not captured until October 30th. He was hanged at Jerusalem, Virginia on November 11th. However the actions of the rebels and the massacre by the troops spread great unease amongst the 'establishment' in the US and helped to bring about changes of minds and policies in the country.
1831-32 - Jamaica. The Emancipation rebellion of Western Jamaica. This was the largest rebellion in the British West Indies involving some 20,000 slaves and was lead by Sam Sharpe whose main plan was a 'General Strike' against slavery. If the demands of the strike were not met then there was to be military and arson attacks. 'An extensive and destructive insurrection' broke out in the Western District. The Great House and sugar works at Kensington Estate in St. James were set on fire. Other arson attacks on plantations followed. 201 rebels were killed in fighting the combined forces of the British army, navy and local militia. Some 750 slaves and 14 free persons were put on trial and convicted to death or severe flogging (200 - 500 lashes). 21 were transported. When Sharpe was waiting to be executed (May, 23rd, 1832) he said, "I would rather die upon yonder gallows than live in slavery!".
1833 - Puerto Rico.
1834 - St. Kitts. Strike against the act to transform slaves into 'apprentices'. When efforts were made to force them to work the slaves rebelled. 16 leaders were put on trial, 5 were deported to Bermuda while others received 24 - 100 lashes. Their rebellion contributed to the decision of the British Government to reduce apprenticeship to 4 years and abolish slavery on August 1, 1838.
1838, September 3rd - USA. Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery in Baltimore.
1839 - 'La Amistad' revolt lead by Cinque, or Singbe, an African headman from Sierra Lione. Le Amistad left Havana in June 1839 with over 50 slaves. Cinque lead the slaves in revolt killing the captain and three of the crew, saving two to navigate them back to Africa. The crewmen, however, got the ship to Long Island waters where Cinque and 38 of his followers were arrested with piracy. Their 'owners' also sued for their return. At trial however it was argued that the Africans had been illegally kidnapped from Africa and under Spain's own laws should be released. Cinque, himself, gave an influential address to the court. The rebels won an important victory and played an important role in the decline of international slave trading and ownership.
1841, November 7th - Virginia. Slave revolt on slave trader 'Creole' which was en route from Hampton, Virginia to New Orleans, Louisiana. Slaves overpowered crew and sailed vessel to the Bahamas where they were granted asylum and freedom.
1843 - America. Sojourner Truth began her 40 year crusade against slavery. Her slave name was Isabella but she believed that God had given her her new name and a mission which she carried out until she died on November 26th 1883. She was the first black woman to speak out in public against slavery and for women's rights.
1848, December 26th - Georgia. Ellen Craft impersonated a slave holder, William Craft acted as her servant in one of the most dramatic slave escapes.
1849 - Maryland. Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery . She returned to South 19 times and brought out more than 300 slaves.
1851, February 15th - Boston. A black abolitionist crashed into a courtroom in Boston and rescued a fugitive slave.
1851, September 11th - Pennsylvania. A group of blacks dispersed slave catchers in Christiana. One White man was killed, another wounded.
1851, October 1st - New York. Black and White abolitionists smashed into the courtroom in Syracuse and rescued a fugitive slave.
1859, October 16th - 17th - Virginia. John Browns raid on Harpers Ferry. Brown is joined by 5 slaves to form a small army of liberation. Two of the slaves were killed, two captured and one escaped. John Copeland and Shields Green were hanged at Charlestown, Virginia on December 16th.
Shields Green under guard. He was captured during John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. He was executed by hanging.
1861-1865 - American Civil War. Almost 200,000 African-Americans joined the Unionist Army to fight for abolition and equality. The victory of the Union army had repercussions not only in the USA but in Brazil, Puerto Rico and Cuba where the slave system still existed and had been 'justified' by its existence in the USA.
Black Union Army soldiers march through Main Street, Richmond on April 3rd, 1865.
1880 - Brazil. Luiz Gama, born in 1830 and a former slave, journalist, poet and lawyer had been responsible for the liberation of more than a thousand people. He was the undisputed abolitionist leader in Sau Paulo. His goal was to establish the principle in law that every African under 62 years of age was legally free.
By 1886-87 the numbers of escaping slaves created a crisis for plantation owners in the Sau Paulo province who requested military aid by spreading rumours of 3,000 escaped slaves 'marching on the city of Sau Paulo'. National troops and a navel landing force were sent to the area and joined with slave owners in stopping all black persons and demanding proof that they were not escaped slaves. However this action could not turn back the tide of the huge number of slaves who were escaping especially as many of the troops sent were sympathetic to the ending of slavery. Such were the numbers of escapees that the balance of power between slaves and escaped slaves and the plantation owners changed dramatically and many coffee planters were forced to grant provisional freedom through service contracts. Many slaves saw this as slavery under another guise and continued to escape in huge numbers throughout the 1880s with troops unable or unwilling to do anything to prevent this. Faced with a complete breakdown of the 'slave/plantation system' coffee planters became suddenly pro- abolitionists. By 1888 slavery in Brazil was abolished, some 30 years after the slave trade itself had been eliminated.
Before the Mayflower", by Lerone Bennett on: http://www.afroam.org/history/history.html
Notes taken from, A Respectable Trade?, exhibition at Bristol Museum, March 1999.
Notes & Queries, The Guardian, British newspaper, March 18,1998.
The Penguin Atlas of Diasporas, Pub. Penguin, 1995.
Black Peoples in the Americas", Marika Sherwood, The Savannah Press, 1992
The Abolition of Slavery, Richard Hart, Community Education Trust, London, 1989.
Black Makers of History, Four Women, Utter, McLean, et.al, ALBSU, The Afrika Education Organisation, 1987.
Crusade Against Slavery, friends, foes and reforms, 1820-1860, Louis Filler, Reference Publications Inc, Michigan,1986.
The Destruction of Brazilian Slavery, 1850 - 1888, Robert Conrad, University of California Press, 1972.