Hidden Stories, Slavery and Barnsley
Triangular Trade - Part 2
The documents also show what happened when the ship had exchanged its goods for the slaves. Slaves were people who had been captured sometimes by rival neighbouring African peoples as a result of the demand for slaves made by merchants. The slaves would then be marched, often over long distances, to the coast where they were kept in appallingly cramped conditions until a ship arrived carrying goods from Europe to exchange for them.
In September 1755 the ship owned by Benjamin Spencer docked in the River Gambia, West Africa, unloaded its cargo and slaves were bought with the profit made by selling the goods brought from Britain. Due to damage the ship had to wait for repairs and another ship was used instead called the ‘Africa’ which Benjamin would also have paid for.
The slaves were put onboard the ‘Africa’ ready for transport across the Atlantic Ocean. There were 15 men, 5 women, 3 girls and 2 boys who would have been branded to signify ownership, chained to each other and kept below decks in the ship’s hold. The conditions during the journey would have been horrific and the documents show that of the 25 slaves onboard seven died on the ship and two more when they arrived in October 1755 in Antigua in the West Indies.
The merchant in Antigua, Daniel Warner, who was to meet the ship, wrote that he could not sell all of the slaves because of their poor condition and because a French ship carrying 850 slaves had arrived at the same time. He decided to send the remaining slaves to South Carolina, America, where they might be sold instead. The merchant in South Carolina, John Guerrard, wrote in February 1756 that the remaining 13 slaves had been sold and that the profit had been used to buy rice and indigo.
Can you imagine for yourself what would it have felt like to be captured for slavery?
What made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean so horrific?
What would you say to the slave merchants and what would they say in reply?
See where South Carolina is in America.»