Vellot asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 10 years ago

why weren't there slaves in Britain?

Britain was involves in the slave trade in a massive way and shipped slaves to the Carribean, America to work as servants and farm. How come slaves were not shipped to Britain too. Surely rich families in England would have wanted black slaves they didnt have to pay?

Not condoning slavery, just historical speculation.

Why aren't there Afro-british in the same way that there are African Americans now. Yes I know there are "black british" now but they immigrated freely from 1950s to present

10 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Although the number of African slaves taken to the British Isles was far less than the numbers that were sent to Britain's colonies, there was a lot of them there, most working as household servants.

    By the 18th century African slaves began to be brought into London and Edinburgh as personal servants.

    In a number of judicial decisions between slave merchants, it was tacitly accepted that slavery of Africans was legal. In Butts v. Peny (1677) 2 Lev 201, 3 Keb 785, an action was brought to recover possession of 100 slaves. The court held that slavery was legal in England in relation to infidels and that an action for trover would lie.

    But agitation saw a series of judgments repulse the tide of slavery. In Smith v. Gould (1705–07) 2 Salk 666, Holt CJ stated that by "the common law no man can have a property in another".

    But in 1729 the then-Attorney General and Solicitor General of England signed the Yorke-Talbot slavery opinion expressing their view (and, by implication, that of the Government) that slavery of Africans was lawful in England. At this time slaves were openly bought and sold on commodities markets at London and Liverpool.

    Lord Henley LC said in Shanley v. Harvey (1763) 2 Eden 126, 127 that as "soon as a man sets foot on English ground he is free."

    But it was not until R v. Knowles, ex parte Somersett (1772) 20 State Tr 1 the law was settled. A man called James Somersett was the slave of a Boston customs officer. They came to England, and Somersett escaped. Captain Knowles captured him and took him on his boat, Jamaica bound. Three abolitionists, saying they were his "godparents", applied for a writ of habeas corpus. One of Somerset's lawyers, Francis Hargrave, stated "In 1569, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a lawsuit was brought against a man for beating another man he had bought as a slave overseas. The record states, 'That in the 11th [year] of Elizabeth [1569], one Cartwright brought a slave from Russia and would scourge him; for which he was questioned; and it was resolved, that England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in'." He argued that the court had ruled in Cartwright's case that English Common Law made no provision for slavery, and without a basis for its legality, slavery would otherwise be unlawful as false imprisonment and/or assault. In his judgment of 22 June 1772, Lord Chief Justice William Murray, Lord Mansfield, of the Court of King's Bench, started by talking about the capture and forcible detention of Somersett. He finished with: "So high an act of dominion must be recognized by the law of the country where it is used. The power of a master over his slave has been exceedingly different, in different countries. The state of slavery is of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasion, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be disc00harged".

    Several different reports of Mansfield's decision appeared. Most disagree as to what was said. The decision was only given orally; no formal written record of it was issued by the court. Abolitionists widely circulated the view that it was declared that the condition of slavery did not exist under English law, although Mansfield later said that all that he decided was that a slave could not be forcibly removed from England against his will.

  • xyzzy
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    There were slaves in Britain at least until 1833. Slavery in Britain and Ireland dated from before Roman occupation. It was finally abolished by the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 (which made some exceptions for other parts of the British Empire).

    And in England a rich family may have had one or two slaves, but it was not economical have many.

    Most slaves that were taken to North and South America were farm labors and were concentrated in areas with long growing seasons and mild weather.

  • 10 years ago

    There were some, but not many, because Britain didn't really need slaves. There was a large working class to perform the labour, slaves weren't needed. The West Indies was where a supply of cheap labour was needed.

  • Lomax
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    There were slaves during the Roman occupation; and to an extent under the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the mediaeval period there were villeins - who were not quite slaves but pretty close.

    After this it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone tohold slaves in Britain. So muc so that no-one bothered to pass a law outlawing the practice. Indeed, slavery only technically became illegal in Britain in about 2006.

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Britain did not grow sugar or tobacco. It does not have huge acreages , it simply isn't economic to use slaves in england, Slaves are expensive easier to to get tenant farmers or after the clearances Shepperd's

    in the Americas as slaves labour could earn huge profits for his master in england very little

  • 10 years ago

    There were balck slaves and servants. If you look at some paintings of the time you can see them. Some intermarried with the local population. There were also Saracen slaves in the middle ages.

  • blesh
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

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  • 10 years ago

    They had but in small number. They made a large number of people slaves in other countries

  • robin
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    that is a fallacy, I have been married for 82 years and still ave to do as I am told

  • 10 years ago

    there were, just not as many as they were used as servants rather than manual labourers

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