A Prestwich Slave Owner

A Prestwich Slave Owner


Sedgley Hall in 1830

In 1833 Parliament abolished Slavery in the British Colonies. Slave owners were lavishly compensated – £20 million was set aside to buy them off. This was a huge sum ; billions in terms of our money.

The Slave Compensation Commission was set up to handle the claims made by slave owners. Their records have been made into an internet database by University College London. It can be searched online for individuals and places.

A recent BBC 2 programme was based on the slave owners database.

Members of the Heritage Society have also researched the records looking for local people.

The database reveals that there were seven slave owners in the Manchester area. The largest award was to Eleanora Atherton of Quay Street. She received £13,638 for 762 slaves in Jamaica.

Eleanora was the heiress to four family fortunes. She was the gt-granddaughter of John Byrom and inherited Kersal Cell from the Byroms. Eleanora split her time between Quay Street and Kersal Cell. She was a “prolific philanthropist”. Her tomb is in St.Paul’s Churchyard, Kersal and she helped pay for that land and the building of the church.

Another local slave owner was Sir George Philips of Sedgley Hall, Prestwich. He claimed £1904 19s 10d for 104 slaves in Jamaica. That’s about £360,000 in today’s values.

Sir George was a prominent Whig M.P. and a really successful businessman in textiles. He was the cousin of the Philips family of Philips Park.

One of his business ventures was as a partner with two friends in “Boddington, Sharp and Philips”. This was a West Indian sugar trading firm. His involvement in this company no doubt explains how he came to own slaves in Jamaica.

Ironically Sir George once congratulated Samuel Romilly, a leading campaigner for the Abolition of Slavery, on one of his speeches in Parliament.

jamaica slaves

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