18th Century

  • 1704

    A 'small insurrection of negroes' reported in Jamaica

  • 1706

    England: judgement of Lord Chief Justice Sir John Holt in the case of Smith v. Brown and Cooper said that 'as soon as a negro comes into England, he becomes free' - but this judgement is ignored

  • 1711-1713

    Bristol Corporation and Society of Merchant Venturers campaign to stop the Royal African Company regaining monopoly status, arguing the importance of the slave trade to Bristol's economy

  • 1713

    Treaty of Utrecht ends the Spanish War of Succession: Britain takes over the Asiento, the contract to supply Spanish America with slaves

  • 1729

    Britain's Attorney General Sir Philip Yorke asserts that a slave in England was not automatically free, nor did baptism 'bestow freedom on him' Slave revolt in Cuba

  • 1730

    Britain becomes the biggest slave trading country: from 1690 to 1807 British ships transport about 2.8 million enslaved Africans

  • 1730-1740

    First Maroon war in Jamaica

  • 1736

    Slave revolt in Antigua: plans to massacre whites fail, and the plotters, including skilled millwrights, coppersmith, sugar boiler, masons, butchers, carpenters etc. are executed 5 broken on the wheel, six gibbeted, 77 burned alive

  • 1737

    Bristol overtakes London as England's number one slaving port, with 37 voyages this year

  • 1739

    British treaty with the Jamaican Maroons: under the leadership of Cudjoe, they gain their freedom and are given 1,500 acres in return for helping to capture other escaped slaves

  • 1742

    Short-lived alliance between some slaves and disaffected maroons resulting in a localised uprising in Jamaica

  • 1743

    The General Rules of the Methodist Church forbid the buying and selling of slaves

  • 1744

    During the War of the Austrian Succession, Bristol Corporation forwarded a petition to the King praying for the protection of the African slave trade and characterising it as the most valuable branch of local commerce. Among the privateers raised to protect Bristol's commerce was the Southwell

  • 1746

    Slave revolt in Jamaica

  • 1747

    Liverpool overtakes Bristol as Britain's premier slaving port, with about 49 voyages a year against Bristol's average of 20

  • 1750

    The Company of Merchants Trading to Africa takes over the Royal African Company's role in slave trading, with membership of 237 Bristol merchants, 157 London merchants and 89 Liverpool merchants Major slave revolt aboard the Bristol ship, the King David

  • 1752

    Slave revolt in Martinique

  • 1760

    Tacky's slave rebellion in Jamaica 400 rebels were executed. The Quakers ban slave-trading amongst their followers

  • 1761

    Slave revolt in Nevis. Dutch forced to conclude treaty with 'Bush Negroes' (i.e. escaped slaves) in Surinam

  • 1763

    Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War: Grenada, Dominica, St Vincent and Tobago given to Britain

  • 1765

    Fanti Prince visits Bristol. Slave uprising on 17 estates in Jamaica

  • 1767

    Jonathan Strong case begins: a slave in England was agreed to be free from transportation if they were not guilty of any crime

  • 1770

    French writer Abbé Raynal publishes a work calling for a 'Black Spartacus' to arise and avenge slavery which the author calls a crime against nature

  • 1772

    Lord Mansfield's Judgement in the case of James Somerset declares that masters cannot force slaves resident in England to return to the plantations. Wrongly thought to be a judgement which freed slaves in England, the Mansfield Judgement did signal the beginning of the end of slavery in Great Britain itself but a slave's legal status in Britain was still unclear and even after 1772 there are cases of slaves being forcibly deported by their owners

  • 1774

    John Wesley publishes anti-slavery tract Thoughts Upon Slavery

  • 1776

    American War of Independence seriously disrupts all transatlantic trade in Bristol

  • 1777

    Short-lived uprising in the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland in Jamaica

  • 1778

    House of Commons appoints a Committee to investigate the British slave trade

  • 1783

    Public outrage in England when the case of the Zong becomes known: the captain threw sick Africans overboard because of a claimed shortage of water - the owners could claim insurance if the deaths were necessary to save the ship, but not if they died of 'natural causes'

  • 1786

    Thomas Clarkson's Essay on Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species is published

  • 1787

    Committee for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade founded in London Thomas Clarkson visits Bristol on a fact-finding mission about the slave trade Society of the Friends of the Blacks founded in France and liaises with English and American anti-slavery groups

  • 1788

    First public meeting of Bristol abolitionists held in the Guildhall. Committee of the British Privy Council examines the slave trade Dolben Act passed, to regulate the number of slaves carried on British ships.

  • 1789

    French Revolution encourages an insurrection of slaves in Haiti

  • 1791

    House of Common rejects motion of William Wilberforce to introduce abolition bill. Celebrations in Bristol on Brandon Hill

  • 1792

    Sierra Leone established as a private company, under the British Crown, of free Africans (many of whom are former American slaves)

  • 1794

    French Revolutionary Government outlaws slavery

  • 1794-1796

    Second Maroon war in Jamaica

  • 1798

    Toussaint L'Ouverture, leader of African slaves, wins full control of Haiti Kofi's rebellion a small uprising in Jamaica

  • 1800

    Napoleon sends in troops to re-establish slavery in the French Caribbean. Gabriel Prosser leads a slave rebellion in Virginia