Filed under African slavery

THE MIDAS OF MANUMISSION: The Orphan Samuel Gist and his Virginian Slaves

THE MIDAS OF MANUMISSION: The Orphan Samuel Gist and his Virginian Slaves

This is a story that appeared in my research for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum to celebrate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade back in 2007. The bare bones of the story are that Samuel Gist was an orphan from Bristol who was educated at one of the city’s charity schools … Continue reading


Edward Colston and Bristol

Edward Colston and Bristol

The story  of Bristol’s Edward Colston (1636-21) has been dividing the city for decades and has now reached new levels with the decision to remove his name which has existed for well over a century from the city’s main music venue. The Guardian paper notes the similarities between this dispute and that of Cecil Rhodes … Continue reading

Counting the Black Death

We know the epidemic known as the Black Death killed a lot of people in Britain and Europe. It put an end to the gloriously labour intensive architectural style of Decorated Gothic, to be replaced by the more austere Perpendicular. The manpower shortage was so desperate it led to the Peasants’ Revolt demanding better wages … Continue reading

Roger Casement and Africa

The i paper and the Independent have a lot of award winning journalists, but sometimes they publish personal stories by them which are often more interesting than the regular news. Patrick Cockburn is a brilliant writer on the Middle East, but here’s his take on a matter closer to home, that of Roger Casement, executed … Continue reading

Slave Reparation

I’ve done quite a bit of research into the minefield that is the slavery and abolition issue. It is generally assumed that slaves and ex-slaves never received compensation from their owners or their heirs. Here’a an article of a surprisingly early victory for a former slave, though she didn’t live long to benefit from it: … Continue reading

PT Barnum’s Career Began This is an article from JSTOR, describing how the great showman’s career was launched by an elderly African American women who claimed to have been about 160 years old. After death she was anatomised and her age was dismissed, but as I reported elsewhere, in England there was a woman who was accepted as … Continue reading

Medieval Trade & Slavery

Whilst trawling for information on foundlings, I stumbled upon this story, which I had heard of, but knew nothing about. This is from The Medieval World Europe 1100-1350 by Frederick Heer: “The great economic and political power of Italian finance would have been impossible without overseas trade. From the mid-eleventh century the Italian maritime cities … Continue reading

A Flogging In Jamaica

At times the stories of Silas Told seems to be over romanticised, but this account is one of the most realistic seeming parts of the book. It also sheds light on the sort of people who were involved in the trade – in his instance, he had no choice in it. This is from his … Continue reading