Explore Your Archive: Inhuman Traffic

“Nothing can be more shocking to Human Nature than the case of a Man or Woman who is delivered into the absolute Power of Strangers to be treated according to the New Masters Will & pleasure; for they have nothing but misery to expect” [D3549]

These words were written by anti-slavery campaigner Granville Sharp who, after a chance meeting with a young slave called Jonathan Strong in 1765, committed himself to the campaign to stop what he referred to as “the inhuman Traffic”.

With the support of his brothers, Granville studied the law so he could help defend runaway slaves, and he fought to change public opinion about slavery.  He wrote books and pamphlets, and corresponded with clergymen, politicians and other influential people to share evidence he’d gathered of inhumane treatment and cruelties inflicted on slaves in British colonies.  In 1787 he co-founded the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Granville died in 1813, five years after the British slave trade was abolished, and his papers passed to the family of his niece who had married a Gloucestershire man.  They were deposited at Gloucestershire Archives in 1977.

You can learn more about the end of British involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, and Granville Sharp’s part in the anti-slavery campaign in Gloucestershire Archives’ online exhibition. Visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives/inhumantraffic to find out more.

African slave song: words and notation

An African song or chant, taken down in notes by Granville Sharp, from the information of Dr William Dickson who lived several years in the West Indies (D3549/13/3/27)

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“For the Record” is our collaborative approach to gathering, keeping and sharing the documented heritage of local communities in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire. You can find out more about the project by visiting www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives/fortherecord.

Most of the project costs are being covered by grants and contributions from project partners, but we are seeking donations too. Please donate online at www.foga.org.uk or in person at Gloucestershire Archives.

Funders and partners

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