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Title: Possessing Slaves : Ownership, Compensation and Metropolitan British Society at the Time of Emancipation
Author: Draper, Nicholas Anthony
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 8240
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis analyses the ownership of the enslaved in the West Indies and Caribbean by British absentees on the eve of Emancipation, and explores the often contradictory representations of these metropolitan slave-owners in a society increasingly hostile to slavery, with particular focus on the compensation paid to slave-owners under the 1833 Abolition Act. It traces the debates about compensation in the context of both the conflict over slavery and the wider discussions of what constituted 'property'. Drawing on the records of the Slave Compensation Commission, and examining the largest 5000 awards claim-by-Claim, it seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of who in Britain owned slaves and who, in addition to the owners themselves, benefited from the �£20 million compensation paid by the state, By analysing claims across Britain's West Indian and Caribbean colonies, the thesis highlights the role of modem capitalist investors, in addition to the traditional merchantconsignees for Jamaica who dominate much of the historiography. While confirming the important role of metropolitan merchants, it also identifies a distinctive rentier group of gentry slave-owners in Britain, who managed and transmitted 'slave-property' across genders and generations through the mechanisms traditionally utilised in the management of British landed property. These mercantile and rentier groups of large-scale slave-owners were disproportionately represented at both local and national level in political and social institutions, including Parliament where, the thesis argues, previous work has underestimated the number ofMPs linked to the slave economy, Finally, the thesis identifies numerous smaller-scale slave-owners in Britain (many of them women) and examines the language deployed and identities constructed by this group in pursuing their claims for slavecompensation, It concludes that slave-ownership was increasingly widespread but also increasingly 'thin' in Britain by the 1830s, and that many firms and families who received slave-compensation can still be found in Britain today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available