London’s Involvement in the Slave Trade

Originally posted on anti-slavery day in 2018, this now seems pertinent again …

The Lost City of London - Before the Great Fire of 1666

On Anti-Slavery Day, we explore London’s involvement in the Slave Trade …

To the City’s – and indeed the country’s – eternal shame, some of its  trade from as long ago as the late sixteenth century onwards was in enslaved persons.


In 1562, John Hawkins took three ships from London or Plymouth (sources differ) to Sierra Leone, where he  seized 300 Africans, “by the sword”.

Slaver.JPGTools of the Slave Trade.JPG

Then,  in the “Middle Passage”, he  transported them across the Atlantic to Hispaniola in the Spanish West Indies, where he sold them – as commodities – in order to purchase sugar, ginger and other goods.   And finally, he returned to London and sold his cargo to City merchants for a fortune, completing the repugnant triangle.  Hawkins’s venture  was backed by the Mayor of London, Thomas Lodge.  It was also  supported by the Queen, Elizabeth I, although apparently only after she had been – falsely –…

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