Some insights into the lives of the crew onboard the slave ship Hannibal

Slave ship Hannibal 1693-1695
An often overlooked but essential element of a slave ship, such as the Hannibal, was the requirement for a large crew in comparison to the number of sailors usually required to man ordinary merchant shipping. Sailors who were to work on slavers would be recruited by any means possible. For example, some men were offered the option by a magistrate or judge of going to prison, transportation, or work as crew on a slave ship. John Newton, author of The Journal of a Slave Trader, described his crew […]

Congratulations Barbados

Ripples across the Pond

Slave ship Hannibal 1693-1695
On Tuesday 30 November 2021, marking the 55th anniversary of independence from Britain, Barbados proudly became a Republic. In 2020 the then governor-general of Barbados, Sandra Mason, now president and head of state, stated that "the time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind. Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state." The former Barbadian high commissioner to the United Kingdom Guy Hewitt, stated in an interview that many Barbadians believe that the country was due for "a […]

‘Triptych’ A poem by Marvin Thompson – Slaver Captain Phillips of Brecon (1693-1694)

A Poem by Marvin Thompson

On the weekend of 7-9 June 2020 the Brecon plaque to a slave trading captain was stripped from the wall on which it was erected in 2010. Poet Marvin Thompson was inspired to write the following poem: On the Anniversary of the death of George Floyd: Dear Brecon Town Council, A mouth drying to mud, tightening lungs and eyes on the edge of tears: that was the reaction of my Black British body when, on this wind-lash of a lockdown morning, I read who you class as a role model for my Welsh, Mixed […]

Book Launch: From Wulfstan to Colston

Severing the sinews of slavery in Bristol

Note: this is an online event organised by M Shed. Registration and booking is required via their website. Published a few days before the fall of Edward Colston’s statue in June 2020, From Wulftsan to Colston traces a thousand-year history of the involvement in slavery of Bristol’s merchants, from Anglo-Saxon times through the era of exploration and colonisation to the transatlantic slave trade and the plantation system of the Americas. During this period, Bristol’s merchant elite seized […]

History Walk: Severing the sinews of slavery in Bristol

A thousand year history of abolition

Meet at 2.00pm outside M Shed, Princes Wharf, Wapping Rd, Bristol BS1 4RN Walk ends at Bristol Cathedral at 4.00pm (approx.) This history walk in Bristol City centre uncovers a 1,000 year history of resistance to slavery. Starting with Bristol's first abolitionist Saint Wulfstan and the Bristol 'mob' in the eleventh century this walk charts the networks of religious and political activists who led popular campaigns against slavery. From the non-conformists and radical currents in the English […]

Abolition Shed

Bristol’s memorial landscape is woeful, there’s not one statue to any of the city's brilliant women, and a complete omission of the most important of all, a major memorial to the victims of enslavement - despite citizens calling for just such a thing many times over the past three decades. Apart from a single gallery in the city’s main museum, M Shed, and a notable display to abolitionist John Wesley in the New Room’s Methodist museum, there’s no specific memorial and nothing of any scale. […]

James Acland and The Bristolian (1827-1831)

In 1827, radical journalist James Acland launched the West Country’s first daily newspaper. He called it The BRISTOLIAN. Undercutting the advertising rates of existing weekly papers, conducting a lively letter column and breaking the law by publishing at one and a half pence without paying the newspaper stamp tax, Acland’s publication was a muck-raking popular radical paper for the working classes. The paper concentrated on exposing the abuses both of the unreformed Corporation which ran Bristol […]

History walk 1: Wulfstan to Colston and the sinews of slavery

An abolition walk

Starts and leaves outside of the front of M Shed. Our first stop will be outside of the Merchant Venturers’ Almshouses (at the Broad Quay end of King Street), where the Merchant Venturers successfully petitioned for Bristol’s involvement in the ‘African Trade’ in 1698. We will cross Queen Square to Redcliffe Street and on to the Seven Stars. This will feature Abolitionists Thomas Clarkson, Wulfstan and the Quakers. On into Castle Park and Colston’s sugar refinery, past All Saints (where Edward […]

‘The Lion of the Occasion’: Frederick Douglass in Bristol

miscellaneous 2018 poster
In the summer of 1846 the famous American abolitionist Frederick Douglass took to the stage of the Victoria Rooms in Bristol, enthralling his thousands-strong audience with vivid denunciations of slavery. He was feted by the mayor and received great support from the people of the city, maintaining friendships with many of those he met for the rest of his life. Douglass biographer Laurence Fenton will discuss the background to and details of the great abolitionist's visit to Bristol in a talk at […]

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 […]