Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Revealed: London's White Child Slaves; New Book Says Black Slaves Were Not the First

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Revealed: London's White Child Slaves; New Book Says Black Slaves Were Not the First

Article excerpt

THE first batches of slaves sent to the British colonies in America were no t

black Africans but whites, including children as young as 10 from London, according to new research.

The findings challenge wellestablished beliefs at the height of events marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.

They come amid demands that Britain apologises for its part in the trade.

The Queen is due to visit America next month to mark the 400th anniversary of the first British colony, at Jamestown, Virginia.

A new book by writers and documentary makers Don Jordan and Michael Walsh reveals Europeanswere being enslaved in America several months before the first shipment of African captives arrived in 1619.

They included hundreds of waifs and strays rounded up from streets around St Paul's and held in the Bridewell, situated off Fleet Street, near Blackfriars Bridge.

The scheme was supported by James I, who believed the homeless and itinerant of London were spreading plague.

A PR offensive was launched to promote the round-up as giving the underprivileged a chance of a new life. Convicts were also transported and sold, supposedly to give them a second chance.

In fact, the City of London burghers wanted to be rid of street children while the merchants behind the company colonising Virginia wanted slave labour, so a deal was done that suited both.

Among those taken in by the spin was poet John Donne, the Dean of St Paul's although he did not take part in the child transportation.

The child slaves, known as Duty Boys after the first ship to take them out (even though a quarter were girls), suffered inhumane treatment.

Of the first 300, only 12 survived four years. The others died of ill treatment, disease, attack by native Americans or overwork.

According to Walsh, contemporary records show that one child victim, Elizabeth Abbott, was beaten to death when her master ordered her to be given 500 lashes for running away. …

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