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Title: The benevolent merchant? : George Hibbert (1757-1837) and the representation of West Indian mercantile identity
Author: Donnington, Katie Louise
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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As seen in the 2007 commemorations of the bicentenary of the British abolition of the slave trade, abolitionism has largely supplanted proslavery in the collective memory and national history of slavery. However for two hundred years prior to the rise of abolition British society accepted, promoted and benefitted from its extensive involvement in the system. My thesis addresses the uncomfortable history of domestic participation. It argues that whilst colonial slavery took place at a geographic distance the profits flowed back and forth across the Atlantic enmeshing the metropole with the colony through the ties of kinship, business, finance and political identity. George Hibbert, an 'eminent West India merchant', lived through both the abolition of the slave trade and finally slavery. This periodisation offers a unique opportunity to chart the course of both British abolition and anti-abolition through the lens of a single man. Hibbert constructed for himself an enlightened identity and took pride in the idea that through his cultivation of character he promoted not only himself but the West Indian mercantile class as a collective. My thesis considers how he imagined the figure of the West India merchant arguing that Hibbert crafted a distinct form of anti-abolition mercantile identity. Whilst Hibbert’s biographer continued the process of mythologizing Hibbert as the benevolent merchant this thesis will reconnect him to the disturbing origins of his power. It will highlight some of the legacies of British slave-ownership. Defining those legacies in terms of the cultural, social, political, economic and physical imprint that Hibbert left behind, the work will contribute towards a more precise understanding of the ways in which colonial slavery helped to form metropolitan London.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available