The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery has been established at UCL with the generous support of the Hutchins Center at Harvard. The Centre builds on two earlier projects based at UCL tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain: the ESRC-funded Legacies of British Slave-ownership project (2009-2012), and the ESRC and AHRC-funded Structure and significance of British Caribbean slave-ownership 1763-1833 (2013-2015).
Colonial slavery shaped modern Britain and we all still live with its legacies. The slave-owners were one very important means by which the fruits of slavery were transmitted to metropolitan Britain. We believe that research and analysis of this group are key to understanding the extent and the limits of slavery’s role in shaping British history and leaving lasting legacies that reach into the present. We are now moving in the direction of more focused research on the lives of enslaved people in the Caribbean. This is a natural development from our work on slave-owners and estates and an exciting demonstration of our commitment to the study of the multiple legacies of slavery in the British imperial world. With growth comes necessary change. One we are most pleased to make is to our name, which we changed in May 2021 to the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery. We also have a new logo. This name change incorporates the work we have done and charts a way forward for our new phase of research and activities on slavery and its legacies in Britain and the Caribbean.
Support the work of LBS! To keep the work of LBS going we need your assistance with funding to help cover our operational costs.
The inaugural Elsa Goveia public lecture @ UCL was given by Professor Jennifer L. Morgan on the subject of ‘The Measure of their Sadness: Slavery and Private Life in the Early Black Atlantic’. Wednesday 18 May 2022, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm, Darwin Lecture Theatre, UCL. Click Full details below.
Catherine Hall, ‘Racial capitalism. What’s in a name?’ The Hobsbawm memorial lecture, 2022. Thursday 10 February, at 18:00. Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre (at Birkbeck, University of London)
Matthew Smith: Inaugural Professorial Lecture: A Troubling Freedom: Power and Memories of Slavery. Friday 4th March 2022 at Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL. It can be seen on the UCL YouTube channel: click Full details below.
Eric Williams’s book, Capitalism and Slavery, was first published in 1944. It was, and remains, of fundamental importance for the understanding of slavery in the British Caribbean and its relationship to the development of British capitalism. Penguin has just (February 2022) re-issued the book. Click full details to see more.
The Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery project, working in collaboration with LBS, is examining the importance of the legacy of British slavery for the colonisation of Western Australia. The research into Western Australian colonists and their networks aims to trace the movement of people, goods, capital, and practices from the Caribbean to the newly-established colony of Western Australia. See also the related blog on James Stirling (1791-1865), enslavement and Western Australia by Georgina Arnott, a member of the Western Australia project team.
Slavery and Resistance in Jamaican History.
On Saturday 4th December (11.00-18.00) at the British Library there was a day of practical talks and workshops from leading historians of 18th-century Jamaica. 18th-century Jamaica has been the subject of intense historical interest in recent years, as important or overlooked documents have been rediscovered, and new ways of approaching histories of slavery, resistance and freedom have been developed. This day of talks and workshops from leading writers on the period will offer practical insights on how to get started in early modern Jamaican history, and how to get the most out of the British Library’s collection: links to digital resources are included on this page.
LBS Newsletters. Forthcoming events and other news: From time to time, the project sends out newsletters with details of forthcoming events and other news related to the project.
Catherine Hall awarded the highly prestigious Leverhulme Medal and Prize 2021 by the British Academy.
History Workshop Journal has published a Virtual Special Issue bringing together material on Black British histories published in the journal and History Workshop Online over roughly the last thirty years. All the articles are freely available for six months from October 2021. See also the special feature on Legacies of Slave Ownership in History Workshop Journal, 90 (2020).
LBS Blogs: The LBS project has a blog, which you can access here. After originally running between May 2013 and December 2015 we have revived the blog in November 2017. We have written about individual case studies, made comments on sources and the research process and anything else which attracts our interest. Different members of the research project contributed posts and we have also had the occasional outside contributor.
BBC Radio 4 series, ‘Descendants’: ‘how close is each of us to the legacy of Britain’s role in slavery?’.
The National Trust has just released (September 2020) its ‘Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery’.
Charlotte Riley has contributed a blog on the resulting controversy surrounding the report here.
LBS – past & present: here we have a statement, 12 June 2020, on doing reparative history and you can read an associated statement from the new Director of the Centre, Matthew Smith, on the challenges and prospects for our work. And for an interview with Matthew Smith see also The Guardian, 22 September 2020.
There is also a link to a recent statement by many leading British historians calling for a review of the Home Office Citizenship and Settlement Test and its misrepresentation of slavery and Empire.
For LBS media enquiries such as requests for interviews please contact UCL Media Relations
Office: +44 (0)20 7679 9041
In an article in the London Review of Books (23 January 2020), Catherine Hall explores the notion and practice of a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants to Britain.
We are extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Matthew Smith as the new Director of LBS as successor to Nick Draper, who retired as Director in September 2019. For an interview with Matthew Smith, occasioned by Black History Month, click here.
Nick Draper interviewed about LBS by Trevor Burnard.
At the beginning of 2020 we updated the LBS database and website. The updates include a large number of Jamaican inventories as well as revised and added entries for many individuals.
Recent books: On this page we will occasionally highlight recently published work which might be of interest to users of this website. Doing so does not endorse the opinions of the authors; but we mention them here because of their potential interest.
Click Full Details below for Jennifer L. Morgan, Reckoning with Slavery, Alex Renton, Blood Legacy, Diana Paton and Matthew J. Smith (eds), The Jamaica Reader, Alan Lester, Kate Boehme and Peter Mitchell, Ruling the World, Christine Walker, Jamaica Ladies, Vincent Brown, Tacky’s Revolt, Kathleen Monteith, Plantation Coffee in Jamaica, 1790-1848, Julius Scott, The Common Wind, Katie Donington, The Bonds of Family, Sarah Thomas, Witnessing Slavery, Miles Ogborn, The Freedom of Speech, Christer Petley, White Fury, Daniel Livesay, Children of Uncertain Fortune, Margot Finn and Kate Smith (eds), The East India Company at Home, 1757-1857.
In Legacies of British Slave-ownership. Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain, published by Cambridge University Press, we re-examine the relationship between Britain and colonial slavery in a crucial period in the birth of modern Britain.
Britain’s Forgotten Slave-owners, a two-part BBC programme based on LBS and presented by David Olusoga, was originally broadcast in July 2015.
When using the biographical entries in this website you may come across references to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Ancestry.co.uk (or Ancestry.com), Find My Past or ScotlandsPeople. These sites require payment or subscriptions so clicking on links to them usually produce a page restricting access unless you log in. For more on this issue, click Full Details below. This also includes a note on references used in the notes on compensation claims.