26 October 2014

New database sheds light on Ireland's slave trade connections

14:28, Fachtna Kelly

A newly-digitised database has shed light on Ireland’s connection to the slave trade and reveals how many Irish slave owners profited by the abolition of slavery by claiming compensation.

The database, which is the result of two projects based at University College London tracing the impact of slave-ownership on the formation of modern Britain, went online in recent weeks, and records the 46,000 individual claims which were made for compensation. While the majority of the people who applied for compensation were based in Britain, there are almost 100 names with addresses in Ireland.

In 1833 the British House of Commons passed the Slavery Abolition Act, which paved the way for the gradual abolition of slavery in the British Empire. To compensate slave owners who lost out, the British government paid out around £20 million (about £1.8 billion in today's prices and equivalent to 40 per cent of state expenditure in 1834) in compensation.

The names on the list give a snapshot of Irish society of the day and highlight just how connected to slavery many people were. Among the names on the list are Howe Peter Browne, the 2nd marquess of Sligo. Browne was a friend of Lord Byron, a wealthy landowner and a governor of Jamaica. While he oversaw the abolition of slavery there in 1883, he also accepted compensation for the 'loss' of his 286 slaves.

Peter and William Digges Latouche were two Dublin bankers who applied for compensation and received £6,815 when 396 slaves of theirs were freed on two estates in Jamaica. Their father, William Digges Latouche, was a founding subscriber to the Bank of Ireland.

Other prominent names include Harcourt Lees, a Dublin clergyman and noted anti-Catholic pamphleteer, Andrew Henry Lynch, a Galway MP, and the Cork-born Admiral Sir Edmund Nagle, a relation of the philosopher Edmund Burke who was an acclaimed naval commander and a close friend of King George IV, and the Bellews of Mount Bellew in Co Louth, a landowning Catholic family with commercial interests.

The databases also contains people distantly related to well-known modern day figures, such as British Prime Minister, David Cameron; authors George Orwell and Graham Greene, and the celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott. The database can be seen [here](http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/).

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