The research team said: “Currently, the database shows a total of 69 slave-owners and former slave-owners who had a Brighton or Hove address between about 1800 and 1880. The majority of them received compensation awards in the 1830s.
“These slave-owners constitute a sub-set of a large and strikingly transient network of colonial entrepreneurs. Among other things, their appearance in Brighton is illustrative of the town’s rapid growth as a fashionable health resort: while only two of the 69 are evidently Brighton-born, another 45 retired and/or died here.”
Among the city’s residents who were paid by the British government was Caroline Anderson, who lived in Bedford Street in Kemp Town. She received money as an inheritor of the sugar estate owned by her father Andrew on Tortola in British Virgin Islands.
“We were drawn to the case of Caroline Anderson because it illuminates the British colonial wealth derived from Caribbean slavery and, at the same time, reminds us of the ways in which the enslaved themselves always resist their bondage,” said the researchers.
“Caroline Anderson’s personal inheritance highlights how many ordinary middle-class British people, including women, benefitted from the compensation paid to owners of the enslaved when the institution was ended.”
The article also outlines how, three years before emancipation, slaves on Caroline’s father’s sugar estate developed a plan to revolt against their oppressors and sail to Haiti to freedom, a plot which contributed to the last wave of slave resistance across the Caribbean.
“The fact that the enslaved peoples on her father’s Caribbean plantation planned to rise up in 1831, just two years before British Emancipation, is a reminder of the crucial role played by the enslaved themselves in the struggle to end slavery,” said the research team. “Her case enabled us to write a connected history that relates struggles ‘from below’ with financial accumulation ‘from above’”.
The researchers said that they think “some people will be surprised” by the revelations of their journey entry, but that “that in itself is not surprising.”