Slavery & Abolition Sites – Cornwall, England

Plymouth
Birthplace of Sir John Hawkins (1532-95) the initiator of Britain’s entry into the African slave trade, a brave man who did much for the welfare of sailors.  His father had pioneered England’s triangular trade with  Guinea  and Brazil 30 years earlier. 

 The Pindar Galley called here in December 1706 en route to the Royal Africa Company’s Cape Coast Castle. They were collecting an apothecary’s chest for the Agent General Sir Dalby Thomas who had asked 2 years earlier for seeds and drugs. 

St Andrew’s Church
William Bligh (1754-1817) baptised here. A brilliant navigator but lacking in diplomacy, he had sailed with Cook on his fatal voyage, and was appointed Governor of the convict colony of New South Wales in 1805. The colony was in the hands of the military, and the common currency was rum.  His attempt to establish order led to the Rum Rebellion  and he was recalled.

Plaistow
Place of death and burial of John Atkins, (bapt 1685 – 1757) naval surgeon and writer. 
A very intelligent, talented naval surgeon who saw active service but left the navy in 1715-8 after conflicting with authority.  He probably spent the time on board slave ships, which provided the information for his ‘A Voyage to Guinea Brazil and the West Indies’., which philosophised over African religion as well as openly discussing methods of kidnapping ‘and other nefarious means’ of obtaining slaves.   

 Mevagissay Bay
It is estimated that between 1530 and 1780 approximately 1 million Europeans were abducted and enslaved by North African raiders which terrified and emptied coastal villages from Cornwall to Sicily.  Accurate accounts are hard to find because most witnesses were victims.  In  1625 Penzance asked the government for a fort to be built, and in the summer sixty men women and children were taken from the church by a landing party of raiders at ‘Mount’s Bay or Mevagissay Bay’. 

 

Bolenowe nr Camborne
Birthplace of John Harris (1820 – 84) poet.
He was born into a miner’s family and he worked down a mine from the age of ten.  Inspired by nature, he began writing poetry as a child, and after being published in a magazine, he brought out a collection in 1853.  He managed to obtain a poorly paid position as scripture reader which allowed him to leave mining and produced his masterpiece ‘Carn Brea’.  His poems were infused with a passionate spirituality, and love of nature.  He saw liberation of slaves as a gift from God, as in ‘The Fall of Slavery’ of 1838:

“God has answered! Glory, glory!
O’er the green earth let it speed;
Sun and stars take up the story,
Never more a slave shall bleed;

Falmouth
Birthplace & place of death of Thomas Corker, (1670-1700) merchant and founder of African dynasty.  Memorial in Falmouth parish church
Thomas Corker became a writer with the Royal Africa Company, and by the age of 16 had the important post of Agent at York Island.  With his brother, an unscrupulous attorney in Falmouth, he built an empire defrauding the Royal Africa Company, illegally trading in slaves, and is the only person involved with the Dragon venture to have made money. 

 

Truro, Kenwyn Church

 Burial place & memorial to African musician Joseph Emidy. He was born about 1775 in what is now The Gambia, but aged about 11 was sent into slavery in Brazil. He was trained to become a musician by the Jesuits there, then fled to play violin in an orchestra in Lisbon, Portugal. From there he was kidnapped by Sir Edward Pellow who wanted an entertainer on board his Royal Navy frigate Indefatigable. For five years he was not allowed ashore in case he fled, but when command of the ship changed, he was granted his freedom. Landing at Falmouth, he made Truro his home, where he married a local girl, fathered 3 children and died aged 60 in 1835.

For more informaiton on this topic, please refer to my books on kindle:
Britain’s Abolition of the slave trade: A Source Book’
Bristol’s Slavery & Abolition : Overview, context & Walking Trail’
other books by me can be found on amazon by searching for ‘Barb Drummond’
or you can visit my homepage barbdrum.webs.com

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