The Earl and Countess of Wessex were today urged to use their ‘diplomatic influence’ to achieve ‘reparatory justice’ for the island of Antigua and Barbuda.
The country’s prime minister Gaston Browne’s words followed protests during the couple’s visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday, where banners were held aloft saying ‘compensation now’ and ‘Britain your debt is outstanding’.
The history of slavery in the nation stretches as far back as 1674, when the first sugar plantation was established by Barbadian-born British soldier Christopher Codrington, who was also a plantation and slave-owner.
Within four years, half of the island’s population was made up of African slaves who had been shipped from Africa’s west coast in horrendous conditions.
Whilst tobacco, indigo and ginger crops were also grown, it was sugar that became the dominant source of revenue for the plantation owners on the island nation.
Toiling for hours in the hot sun, the slaves were fuelling the thirst for sugar back in England.
Toiling for hours in the hot sun, the slaves were fuelling the thirst for sugar back in England – Pictured: A slave showing his scars from being lashed by owners
Within four years of Cordrington’s arrival, half of Antigua and population was made up of African slaves who had been shipped from Africa’s west coast in horrendous conditions – Pictured: A diagram of a ship being used to transport slaves across the Atlantic
Antigua’s flagship plantation was Betty’s Hope. Many of its sugar mill towers still stand as a legacy of enforced enterprise that once took place.
But even after emancipation, former slaves continued to work on Antiguan plantations continued in their old roles for a paltry wage due to the absence of alternative sources of income.
Some historians believe that slavery and the associated malnutrition and disease was responsible for the destruction of the native Caribbean population – with modern inhabitants of the island descended mainly from Europe and Africa.
One of Antigua’s national heroes is the slave Prince Klaas, who in 1736 planned an uprising that led to him being executed by breaking wheel (pictured)
The number of slaves in the mid-1770s peaked at 37,500 – treble the 12,500 present on the island in 1713 with the slaves in ever-worsening and overcrowded conditions
Sugar became the main crop on Antiguan plantations as a result of Christopher Codrington’s settling on the island.
The number of slaves in the mid-1770s peaked at 37,500 – treble the 12,500 present on the island in 1713.
By contrast, the white population had fallen by nearly half to 3000 from 5000 with the slaves in ever-worsening and overcrowded conditions.
The Slave Act of 1723 made arbitrary murder of slave illegal but this change in the law did little to ease the suffering of the forced workers.
One of Antigua’s national heroes is the slave Prince Klaas, who in 1736 planned an uprising that led to him being executed.
The slave, whose real name was Court, was crowned ‘King of the Coromantees’ in a pasture outside St. John’s, in a ceremony that served as a declaration of war on whites.
Colonists discovered the plot and suppressed the rebellion and Prince Klaas and four accomplices were executed by breaking wheel – a device which systematically broke the bones of its victims.
Another sixty-four slaves were also killed for their part in the plot.
Rebellions were not uncommon on the island with another slave named Hercules hanged, drawn and quartered with three others burnt alive for a conspiracy to kill slave owner Crump in 1729
Gaston Browne asked for help securing ‘reparatory justice’ for slavery at a meeting with the Earl and Countess of Wessex and his cabinet during their visit to the island today
Rebellions were not uncommon on the island with another slave named Hercules hanged, drawn and quartered with three others burnt alive for a conspiracy to kill slave owner Crump in 1729.
The nineteenth century was the twilight for slavery across the West.
The American War of Independence at the end of the eighteenth century disrupted the sugar trade in Antigua after Britain enforced the Navigation Acts to stop trading with the newly-independent United States.
The slave trade was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1807 and this created an economic groundshift in the colony.
Sugar cane had already collapsed in price after the cheaper sugar beet – native to Europe – replaced it.
Slaves also found themselves employed in the very jobs they were forced to do in the years before because of a lack of alternative employment in Antigua.
The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda today told the Earl and Countess of Wessex it is his country’s wish to ‘one day become a republic’ – with Gaston Browne remarking that he wanted the royal couple to help Antigue and Barbuda achieve ‘reparatory justice’ for slavery on the island.
Gaston Browne’s remarks came at a meeting between Edward and Sophie, Mr Browne and his cabinet during their visit to the island today – and are a direct echo of Jamaican PM Andrew Holness, who told the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their own tour that his country is ‘moving on’ to become a republic.
The Caribbean Community, a regional organisation, set out to ask for slavery reparations from Britain, France and the Netherlands in 2013 but no island has yet received any payment.
During his Caribbean tour with the Duchess of Cambridge last month, Prince William described the slave trade as ‘abhorrent’ and a ‘stain on our history’ after protests took place.
Here is a list of the islands affected by slavery:
A population census of 1671 of the Bahamas colony counted 443 slaves.
The birthplace of British slave society and the most ruthlessly colonised by Britain. It ended in 1834. The country was made independent from Britain in 1966. Between 1627 and 1807, approximately 387,000 enslaved Africans were sent to Barbados.
Slaves were imported to help cut logwood on the island. In 1820 there were 2,563 slaves in Belize.
There were never more than 6,000 slaves in Bermuda. The largest Bermudian slaveholder in 1663 owned only seventeen slaves. They were often known as indentures rather than slaves and contracts would run up to 20 years.
British Leeward Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
The first census of Saint Kitts, in 1671, recorded 1,739 African slaves. Six years later this grew to 3,849. a year later 1,436 slaves were recorded in Nevis.
In 1819, there were 360 Europeans, 320 free Africans, and 2451 slaves.
Antigua and Barbuda
Most of the saves in Antigua and Barbuda disembarked from the Bight of Biafra (22,000 Africans) and the Gold Coast (16,000 Africans).
British Virgin Islands
Emancipation freed a total of 5,792 slaves in the Territory.
Number of slaves started out as 523 in 1672, and had risen to 10,000 in 1774.
British Windward Islands
Became a British colony in 1763 at the Peace of Paris which ended the Seven Years War with France. At that time the island had a population of 1,718 Frenchmen and 5,872 slaves working on coffee, cocoa and spice production.
By the 1750s, there were 12,000 enslaved people in Grenada.
The 1730 census showed 463 occupants, including just 125 whites, 37 Caribs, 175 slaves, and the rest free blacks or mixed race.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
St Vincent and the Grenadines gained its independence from Britain in 1979.
At the time of abolition in 1834, there were more than 950 slaves owned by 116 Caymanian families.
By the 1660s, the enslaved population numbered about 2,500.
The British took over in 1796 and remained in possession, except for short intervals, until 1814, when they purchased Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo, which were united in 1831 as the colony of British Guiana.
The British Invasion of Jamaica took place in May 1655, during the 1654 to 1660 Anglo-Spanish War, when an English expeditionary force captured the Spanish colony.
Oliver Cromwell increased the island’s European population by sending indentured servants and prisoners. There were 300,000 slaves in Jamaica in 1831.
Trinidad and Tobago
When the island was surrendered to the British in 1797 the population had increased to 17,643: 2,086 whites, 4,466 free people of colour, 1,082 Amerindians, and 10,009 African slaves.
Turks and Caicos Islands
In 1822, the islands reported just more than 1,900 slaves.
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