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Britons Can Now See If Their Ancestors Were Slave Owners
Did you know that one of the ancestors of the author of Animal Farm and 1984 got rich off the enslavement of others? If you are from the U.K. you can find out, since – thanks to the prodigious efforts of University of London researchers – Britons Can Now See If Their Ancestors Were Slave Owners.
British industrial dominance rooted in slave-trade profits
In all, 13,000,000 Africans were enslaved and shipped to the New World. Although Great Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 and made slavery illegal in most of the Empire in 1833-34, almost 3 million of all the slaves transported during the history of slavery were done so by Britain, British North America and/or the United States (slaverysite.com). It was the investment of massive sums of capital earned through the slave trade by the great merchant families of Liverpool after its abolition, in fact, that fueled the explosive growth of manufacturing in the British Midlands in the nineteenth century and set the stage for the world wide industrial dominance of Great Britain for the next 100 years.
Britons can now see if their ancestors were slave owners – like George Orwell’s.
Researchers at University College London spent three years compiling a searchable listing of thousands of people who received compensation for loss of their “possessions” when slave ownership was outlawed by Britain in 1833.
Gigantic sums of money used to reimburse slave owners
Some 46,000 people were paid a total of 20 million pounds – the equivalent of 40 percent of all annual government spending at the time – after the freeing of slaves in British colonies in the Caribbean, Mauritius, and southern Africa.
Their descendants include writers Graham Greene and George Orwell. Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair, and the trustees of his great-grandfather, Charles Blair, were paid 4,442 pounds for 218 slaves on a plantation in Jamaica.
This excerpt is part of an article that was originally posted on News One for Black America: