North Yorkshire’s links to the slave trade have been documented as part of a free online encyclopaedia project.
Records were kept of people who claimed for compensation in the years following the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
Those archives, never systematically studied before, throw new light on how the slavery business contributed to Britain becoming the first industrial nation and its connections with some stately homes including Harewood House, near Harrogate, and Duncombe Park, near Helmsley.
The encyclopaedia at www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs records the 46,000 claims made for compensation, with information on the 3,000 or so Britons who lived in Britain but had property in people.
Professor Catherine Hall, from University College London, one of those behind the archive, told a national newspaper the aim was not to name and shame by focusing on slave owners.
“We seek to undo the forgetting: to re-remember and to recognise the ways in which the fruits of slavery are part of our collective history – embedded in our country and town houses, the philanthropic institutions, the art collections, the merchant banks and legal firms, the railways, and the ways we continue to think about race.”
Records show that during the 1830s Henry Lascelles, the Earl of Harewood, successfully claimed tens of thousands of pounds. The Lascelles family who own Harewood House had interests in 47 sugar plantations and owned thousands of slaves in Barbados and across the West Indies. They weren’t unique – most merchants of the period were involved in the slave trade.
The current Earl of Harewood, David Lascelles, said: “The source of the wealth that built Harewood is historical fact. There is nothing anyone can do to change the past, however appalling or regrettable that past might be. What we have tried to do here is engage with that legacy in a positive way.”
Records also show an unsuccessful claim for £1,844 made in 1837 on behalf of Charles, Baron Feversham of Duncombe Park for 111 slaves on the Caribbean island of Nevis. No one was available to comment when The Press contacted Duncombe Park.