Historical timeline of Black History in the UK, the struggles the changes that have made an  impact, the inovators and activists

British Black 1700-1800 Timeline

HistOry & TIME

  • 1700s

    In the 1700s the need for tobacco increased, which meant a requirement for more slaves in the New World. With the fear of slave revolt a new slave system was created which included the following:- No interracial relationships; Native and blacks to be clarified as livestock or “chattle”; Blacks can’t hold office; Black people could not testify against a white person in court; They were not permitted to raise a hand against a white person, even if the white person was beating them; All property owned by a slave is sold and they would no longer be permitted to own property; They could not be taught to read or write; White indentured servants who were freed would be provided with 50 acres of property.

  • 1707

    Hans Sloane, an Irish Physician, witnessed, recorded and justified a series of punishments that slaves in the Caribbean received for certain crimes. Punishment for these crimes were nailing slaves to the ground and burning them slowly from their feet and hands to their head. Castrating or mutilating (such as chopping off part of the foot), Whipping until raw, then adding pepper and salt to the wounds or drip melting wax on the skin.

  • 1721

    Richard Bradley, a naturalist, wrote a book “Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature” in which he states there are five types of men. These five in order of merit are the White Europeans with beards, White men in America without beards (refering to many Native Americans), Men with copper colour skin, small eyes and straight black hair, Blacks with straight black hair and Blacks with curly hair

  • 1736

    In October, there was a Slave Retaliation in Antigua, where Court and Tomboy, two slaves (African and Creole respectively) planned to blow up the governor at the Annual Coronation Ball and instigate a slave uprising. When the Coronation Ball was delayed, they waited, but were betrayed and captured. 88 slaves were executed, it would have been more but the treasury ran out of money to compensate the slave owners.

  • 1739

    In Jamaica the British brokered a treaty with the Maroons, where the blacks were allowed to live in safety and freedom as long as they answered a call to service from the British. This was mainly used in recapturing runaway slaves and suppressing any slave revolts.

  • 1756

    In Jamaica. on Thomas Thistlewood's plantation. It was witnessed that after catching a slave eating some sugar cane on his plantation, he had the slave whipped and pickled (rubbing salt, pepper or lime juice into the wounds). He then had someone “shit” in the slaves mouth. This punishment was referred to as “Derby’s dose” and was a common practice.

  • 1760

    In Jamaica there was a war known as the Tacky’s War. The war was started by a Fanti royal and warlord called Tacky (Takyi) in eastern Jamaica, and a Dahomean war chief or coastal headman Apongo in the western end of the island, involving 30,000 slaves. When the rebellion was suppressed in October 1761, the loss of life equated to 60 white people, 60 free blacks (maroons that fought with the white people) and 400 slaves, with 100 being executed (tortured to death). 500 slaves were also deported to Belize (Known as British Hondurus in those days)

  • 1765

    In England, David Lisle, a lawyer, severely beat his slave boy (Jonathan Strong) and threw him out into the streets. William (doctor) and Granville Sharp showed him kindness and the latter paid for his hospital care. Later, Strong was kidnapped on the streets by Lisle and sold to James Kerr to be sent to Jamaica as a slave. Granville Sharp then convinced the Mayor to release Strong.

  • 1769

    Granville Sharp wrote “A Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery” and “An Appendix to the Representation”, these highlighted the injustices of slavery in England.

  • 1770's

    One in five people living in the Americas was black and there was around 500,000 slaves within English colonies.

  • 1770

    James Cook claims the East Coast of Australia, New South Wales.

  • 1772

    Phillis Weekley - adopted by white family and author of a book of poems was taken to Boston where she was tested intellectually by some of the smartest men. Eventually, it was published in England.

  • 1772 (June)

    On 22nd June Granville Sharp battled Charles Stewart in a case (James Somerset was an escaped slave) the challenged the courts to state that any slavery in England was illegal and won - Lord Mansfield presiding.

  • 1774

    Edward Long published “History of Jamaica” where he stated that black people were a different species to whites and were closer to apes and incapable of being civilised, however, if caught early enough were capable of disciplined labour (“in a bungling, slovenly manner”)

  • 1775

    Virginia rebellion - with the American Patriots challenging British rule governed by John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore. Slaves were sent the message that if they escaped and joined the British (on a fleet of ships on the James River) to fight the Patriots they would be freed (to fight with the British meant that no child or woman was able to gain freedom). Hundreds of slaves did just that, joining the British fleet, known as the Dunmore’s Royal Ethiopian Regimen

  • 1776

    In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson (who had 200 slaves, who he deemed his friends) along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Richard Livingston signed The Declaration of Independence. “All men are created equal”. He argued that Britain was trying to enslave white America. The British continued the fight, with more slaves joining the British, and from those escapees the Black Pioneers regiment was formed.

  • 1777

    After a four year battle in the courts in Scotland Joseph Knight was freed from slavery and as a result slavery would no longer be legal in Scotland.

  • 1779

    In the US, General Sir Henry Clinton sent out word that any slave that left their master would gain their freedom irrespective of whether they fought for the British or not. Even some of George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s slaves escaped to freedom.

  • 1781

    The British lost the battle against the Patriots at Yorktown and most of the black slaves who fought with the British were moved to New York which was still under British authority. It is believed that as many as 100,000 slaves had escaped from slavery during the six years of the war.

  • 1781

    The Zong massacre - the slave ship Zong (Liverpool owned) sailing from Accra, West Africa to Jamaica with 470 slaves twice the amount it should have been able to transport, with a lack of water and a disease inflicting both crew and slaves, the captain of the ship was worried about the loss of revenue if the slaves died after they were docked so he threw 133 of the least well slaves overboard to obtain the insurance for them. This would be picked up by Granville Sharp who would take the surviving crew members to court.

  • 1783

    The slave ship Brooks set sail with 158 more slaves than it could carry. A model of this ship was made and Thomas Clarkson ensured its image was on display everywhere to gain more support for the abolition of the slave trade.

  • 1783

    In November 1783, George Washington marched into New York to take control from the British. He found that many of the former slaves and some white people had already left by ship to Nova Scotia, in Canada and some to Britain. The blacks taken to the UK would later be known as the “black poor” as they were unable to find work or housing and slept on the streets.

  • 1787

    Around 4,000 “black poor”, former British slaves who had escaped their owners and white women who had married black men. in Britain were transported to Sierra Leone, to tackle the issue of them living on the streets, where land was provided for them. This was supported by Granville. The settlement was called Province of Freedom.

  • 1787

    Benjamin Moseley, a British physician, claimed that black people could bear surgical operations much more than white people, noting that “what would be the cause of insupportable pain to a white man, a Negro would almost disregard”, he added, “I have amputated the legs of many Negroes who have held the upper part of the limb themselves.”

  • 1787

    May 1787, in England, the Abolitionist Movement started (Society for Effecting the Aboloition of the Slave Trade) with Granville Sharpe, Josiah Wedgewood, Samuel Hoare, Thomas Clarkson and later on MP William Wilberforce. Their immediate objective to end the slave trade. Lesser known are the females who played a prominent role in the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. Names such as Lady Margaret Middleton, Georgiana - Duchess of Devonshire, Ann Yearsley & Hannah More. There were black abolitionists also, Ottobah Cugoano, Olaudah Equiano, Boughwa Gegansmel, Jasper Goree, Cojoh Ammere, George Robert Mandeville, Thomas Jones, William Stevens, Joseph Almze, John Christopher, James Bailey, Thomas Oxford, George Wallace, Phillis Wheatley, James Gronniosaw, Ignatius Sancho and later on the famous Mary Prince. Most were collectively known as the Sons of Africa.

  • 1787

    Ottobah Cugoano, an abolitionist in England wrote ”Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery and Commerse of the Human Species” about his life as a slave, with the help of Olaudah Equiano.

  • 1788

    British settlers arrive in Australia.

  • 1789

    Olaudah Equiano, a abolitionist, who wrote, in England, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” about his life as a slave.

  • 1790

    In Jamaica, it was witnessed and written that whilst on a plantation a female slave had accidentally broken a plate and the punishment delivered was that she was nailed to the house through her ears. At night the slave ripped herself away and ran only to be caught the next day and whipped.

  • 1791

    William Wilberforce attempted to end the slave trade in British parliament and this was defeated by 75 votes. In 1792, he tried again and again he was defeated. He tried again for another seven years each time it was defeated.

  • 1792

    Granville Sharp and others made a second attempt to settle the “black poor” in Sierra Leone and this settlement was called Freetown (the present capital of Sierra Leone).

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