Bristol History Commission – some questions….

In the aftermath of the pulling down of the statue of slave-trader Edward Colston on 7th June, elected Mayor Marvin Rees announced the formation of a 'History Commission' to "help us tell our full city history" and to "shape the future of Bristol". Since the announcement we have waited for some clarity about the Commission, its members, processes, timescales and remit but none have appeared. Several people have asked questions of the Mayor's Office but received no answers (as yet). As Bristol […]

Colston slept with the fishes

In April 2019 The Saint-Just Mob subverted the statue of Edward Colston with the word DROWN. The following article first appeared on the BRHG Facebook page in the same month. Republishing it here seems apposite as he slept with the fishes for a few days at the bottom of the very docks where slave ships bound for Africa would have moored and now skulks in the basement of M Shed. The statues of Samuel Plimsoll and Edward Colston stand within half a mile of each other and share one thing in common […]

Update – Brecon plaque commemorates slave trader

Should society memorialise a slave trader?

In the Welsh town of Brecon, upon an old wall, along Captains Walk (a name based on a fiction), is a slate plaque commemorating the life of a slave trader who resided in the town. The plaque was commissioned by Brecon Town Councillors in 2009, erected in October 2010 (during Black History Month), and makes no reference to the fact that Captain Phillips was a 17th century slaver. Captain Thomas Phillips was the commander of the infamous slave ship the Hannibal in the 1690s. He was directly […]

Myths within myths…

Edward Colston and that statue

In the light of recent moves to place a ‘corrective’ plaque on the statue of Edward Colston in the centre of Bristol and calls for it to be removed to a museum it seems the time is right to investigate the origins of this monument and the claim emblazoned on it that it was: Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city Looking into the history of the statue demonstrates the same myth making that has characterised the popular memory of […]

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 […]

History Walk 1: Edward Colston

Why is our city dominated by this man’s legacy?

Starting with St Mary Redcliffe church, this walk takes in other historic Diocese of Bristol churches in the city centre where 'the life and work' of Edward Colston is still provided religious legitimacy on an annual basis. Along the way we will share the most recent historical research regarding this man's involvement with the transatlantic slave trade and discover how the Victorian elite created a 'cult of Colston' that is now said to form part of our city's 'identity'. At our final stop, […]

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 […]