Should society memorialise a Slave Trader?

The curious story of Brecon Town Council and the Plaque in honour of Captain Thomas Phillips, Slave Trader (circa 1664-1713).

If you were to walk around the rear side of the former house and home of Captain Thomas Phillips in Brecon, located along Captains Walk, you will notice a rather handsome slate plaque memorialising his life. The Phillips’ family house is now St Ursula’s Convent, a former catholic school. The plaque was paid for by the people of Brecon, and was erected (though not without controversy), in 2010. It reads innocently enough: CAPTAIN THOMAS PHILLIPS Havard House, Brecon First made this Captain’s Walk […]

Frederick Douglass in Bristol

Time for the African-American Abolitionist’s Visit to the City to be Commemorated with a Heritage Plaque?

After the Frederick Douglass event in the city on Bank Holiday Monday (28 May, 2018) in which BRHG members took part and which drew several hundred people we are publishing this article by Laurence Fenton. Laurence has just written a new book on the African American abolitionist's visits to Victorian Britain and is calling for a more permanent memorial to this important moment in the history of the city and the struggle against slavery. BRHG fully support this initiative. While actions from the […]

A Brief Political And Economic Introduction To Bristol Glass

There were a number of economic and political changes during the 16th and 17th centuries which prepared the ground for the establishment of the glass industry in Bristol. In 1522 the ‘Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol’ was incorporated. It grew in power and influence through the 17th century during which the Society revitalised and effectively reorganised itself to allow Bristol’s maritime merchants to take the fullest advantage of the Britain’s developing colonial […]

Two rebel women

Florence Exten- Hann and Lilian Gertrude Wolfe. Interviewed by Sheila Rowbotham

I interviewed Florence Exten-Hann in March 1973 and this article appeared in the socialist feminist magazine Red Rag (no.3 1973). It draws also on notes she wrote about her life for a Workers’ Educational Association class in 1968. The original article was subsequently reproduced in a collection of my writings, Dreams and Dilemmas, Virago, 1983. I have modified it somewhat for clarity and added some new comments at the end. My article, ‘She Lived Her Politics’ first appeared in the anarchist […]

Joshua Fitch and Colston’s Girls’ School

The school the Merchant Venturers never wanted...

Introduction On 11th November 2017 Colston's Girls’ School (CGS) announced that they would not be changing the name of the school, despite its associations with Edward Colston, the Bristol merchant who both organised and profited from the transatlantic slave trade. Colston was a major investor, manager and then deputy-governor of the Royal African Company (RAC) which held a monopoly over the West African slave-trade in the seventeenth century.] During Colston’s time managing and then leading the […]

Edward Colston Research Paper #2

The Royal African Company and Edward Colston (1680-92)

Introduction This research article is an examination of the Royal African Company (RAC) and the role of Edward Colston (b. 1636 d. 1721) within the organisation as both an investor and executive. It is unsurprising that this history has not been previously collated in this form as Colston still retains a popular status amongst sections of Bristol’s population as a philanthropist and ‘city father’, his memory protected by powerful civic organisations. Although the depiction of Colston as a […]

Davis Day

From the Forest of Dean to Canadian labour history

When Thomas Davis and his wife Annis and their family from Pillowell in the Forest of Dean decided to emigrate to Canada in 1890 they could not have known that their choice would have tragic consequences or that their personal tragedy would be remembered in Canada to this day. One of their boys, Thomas, would be killed in one of the worst mining disasters in Canadian mining history and another, William, would be shot dead by the police in one of the most violent strikes in Canadian labour […]

Edward Colston Research Paper #1

Calculating the number of enslaved Africans transported by the Royal African Company during Edward Colston’s involvement (1680-92)

Introduction Edward Colston was an investor, official and eventually deputy governor of the Royal African Company (RAC) from 1680-92. Over this period the RAC purchased and transported tens of thousands of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic into a life of hard labour. This article aims to answer number of questions about the RAC’s involvement in the slave trade in particular during Edward Colston’s tenure. These questions are: How many enslaved Africans were purchased by the RAC between 1680 […]

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