Story of a slaving trip

Story of a slaving trip

Plans of a Slave Ship and an Illustration of a Slave Camp




Plans of a Slave Ship and an Illustration of a Slave Camp


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THE voyage of merchant William Davenport’s ship the Essex was just one of at least 83 such journeys undertaken by Liverpool vessels carrying 31,000 Africans into slavery in 1783 alone.

At this time Liverpool was Europe’s biggest slave-trading port with ships sailing to Africa laden with goods to be exchanged for enslaved Africans who were then shipped to the New World.

The infamous triangular trade involved the captives being sold to the highest bidder - the cash raised was spent on goods before sailing back to Liverpool. These cargoes were then sold for big profits making slave trading a very profitable business indeed.

A discovery in a Cheshire barn revealed the Davenport Papers – 12 volumes and 13 bundles of contemporary documents revealing the workings of the slave trade.

Accounts, receipts, letters and inventories record in chillingly minute detail how people were treated like cargo to be bartered and sold.

At the International Slavery Museum (Merseyside Maritime Museum building) there is a fascinating interactive film chronicling the Essex’s voyage as revealed by the Papers – some are displayed nearby.

On 13 June 1783 the Essex left a Liverpool quayside with Captain Peter Potter at the helm and a crew of 33 seamen and Adam Jema, a young black boy.

Liverpool-based Davenport instructed the captain to barter goods from his holds for prime young Africans who were to be not less than 4 ft 4 inches tall.

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