Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|From the late 17th century onwards
Written by JulieW
(10/30/2008 6:52 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I thought being a Captain gave men the opportunity, penned by MarianneR
many absentee landlords living in England owned substantial and valuable properties in the West Indies. Many wealthy and influential families, especially those in the major slave trading ports of London, Bristol and Liverpool took part in the Atlantic salve trade. ( see Bury the Chains by Adam Hochshield,Chapter 4 King Sugar )And by slave trading I mean they were part of the triangular trade : do allow me to explain , very briefly, what that meant.
Goods were taken to Africa from England where the goods were traded for slaves, who then took part in the fearsome "middle passage" crossing to the West Indies: they were sold to plantation owners , and West Indian goods,in particular sugar, were then brought back to England to be sold on for profit.
Now I don't think this is the place for a detailed discussion on the Atlantic Slave trade, for JA is typically and deliberately very vague as regards the exact nature of Mrs Smith's interests in the West Indies , but I think it is important to note that these estates, (plantations), were serviced by thousands of slaves and although the trade in salves in the British Empire was abolished in 1806 , complete emancipation of slaves in the British Empire was not achieved until well after our time period ( in 1833).
Some British people purchased West Indian estates, some inherited them, but it was not unusual for British people to own them or to have interests in continuing the trade : indeed, the group of M.Ps who represented West Indian interests in the British Parliament were some of the most powerful in the country and were fearsomely organised to protect their interests (See "Contrary to the Principles of Justice,Humanity and Sound Policy": The Slave Trade, Parliamentary Politics and the Abolition Act 1807by Stephen Farrell, contained in The British Slave Trade:Abolition Parliament and People(2006), pages 141-202)
JA knew of the links with the West Indies and the UK through her family's links with the islands. . For example, her father, George Austen, was the trustee of an estate in Antigua ( owned by the Nibbs famlly). Look at this extract from Gergsons Davis's essay on Jane Austen's Antiguan Connection:
I think it unlikely that Mr Smith was a sea captain who invested in land in the Caribbean islands : it is more likely that he was the wealthy son of a wealthy absentee owner of a plantation or lands in the West Indies.
Does that help clear matters up for you?
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.