Freedom-seeking slaves in England and Scotland, 1700-1780

Newman, S. P. (2019) Freedom-seeking slaves in England and Scotland, 1700-1780. English Historical Review, 134(570), pp. 1136-1168. (doi: 10.1093/ehr/cez292)

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This essay explores the experiences of enslaved people who sought to escape their bondage in England and Scotland during the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century. It argues that, while the conditions of their servitude in Britain may appear closer to those of white British servants than those of enslaved plantation labourers in the colonies, the experiences of these people were conditioned by the experiences of and the threat of return to colonial enslavement. For some successful Britons an enslaved serving boy was a visible symbol of success, and a great many enslaved men, women, youths and children were brought to Great Britain during the eighteenth century. Some accompanied visiting colonists and ships’ officers, while others came to Britain with merchants, planters, clergymen and physicians who were returning home. Some of the enslaved sought to seize freedom by escaping. Utilising newspaper advertisements placed by owners seeking the capture and return of these runaways (as well as advertisements offering enslaved people for sale), the essay demonstrates that many such people were regarded by their masters and mistresses as enslaved chattel property. Runaways were often traumatised by New World enslavement, and all too aware that they might easily be sold or returned to the horrors of Caribbean and American slavery: improved work conditions in Britain did not lessen the psychological and physical effects of enslavement from which they sought to escape.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Newman, Professor Simon
Authors: Newman, S. P.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:English Historical Review
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1477-4534
Published Online:03 October 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Oxford University Press
First Published:First published in English Historical Review 134(570):1136-1168
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
651561Runaway Slaves in Britain: Bondage, Freedom and Race in the Eighteenth CenturySimon NewmanLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)RPG-2014-133HU - HISTORY