ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Were Your UK Ancestors Slave Owners?

Updated on March 22, 2013

Free Searchable List of UK Slave Owners

Now you can search through an online database to find out if your ancestors were UK slave owners.

If you are researching your family history, it can be quite interesting to discover slave owners and probably the associated wealth in your family history - most of it's probably not trickled down to you though has it :)

A lot of wealth in the 1800s came when the UK Government compensated UK slave owners when slavery was abolished.


You can now search online, for free, to see who was paid out a share of over £20million in compensation after the abolition of slavery in 1833.

At this time there were over 3,000 UK slave owners who benefitted from this cash windfall - and, not surprisingly, it was mostly the rich.

The University College of London have made a list of UK slave owners available to the public, online - so if you are researching your family history it's worth knowing where that easy to use online database is and add it to your list of bookmarks.

The Database of UK Slave Owners is open to the public and allows anyone to find out details of the families involved in slavery in:

  • the Caribbean
  • Mauritius
  • the Cape Colony (part of modern-day South Africa).

Finding out how many slaves existed can be estimated by studying ships' records - since most were transported by ship. Records of slave ships show that an estimated 12.5 million people were transported as slaves between Africa and the Americas and the Caribbean between the 16th century until the trade was banned in 1807.

After slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833 compensation was paid to the current UK slave owners.

Most slave owners were men, but there were a few women who owned a few slaves. Women were not generally wealthy enough in their own right to become slave owners, which is why the few women that were owners, owned only a few slaves. In some instances the women might have been widows and the slaves had come to them via their late husband's estate.

If you were a slave owner when slavery was abolished, you had to make an official and formal claim for compensation - it is these meticulously kept records that have been the source of the database. At this time, the British Government kept very detailed records and so the information was clear and fairly easy to transcribe and collate.

This is a great database if you want to do some online research, without any costs involved. The database is quick and easy to use and yields good results.

By typing in, for example, just a surname, you will instantly see a complete list of slave owners with that name, who they are being compensated for and how much money was paid out - it's easy and fascinating.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • cornwall_UK profile image


      5 years ago from Cornwall, UK

      None for me, none of my ancestors were slave owners. Loved the fun of checking out this great free resource.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • tmbridgeland profile image


      5 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Heck, my ancestors, one of them at least, was an English slave trader! Did the whole sail to Africa and back to America thing! And, on the same side of my family were the abolitionist Quakers. I learned in a history book that my slave trader ancestor was an all-around scoundrel. He was called 'the biggest liar in England' at one point.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      5 years ago from London

      I did indeed - but wasn't surprised not to find any.

      Almost all of these owners lived outside the UK - they all owned slaves outside the UK, anyway. This was the abolition of slavery throughout the empire, rather than in the UK itself (which happened quite a lot earlier).

      My ancestors were in general not the slave-owning classes - they were agricultural labourers in Wales, Kent, Sussex, Somerset and Lancashire. The only ones who had any money at all were based in Liverpool (which was a big slaving port in earlier times) but they were solicitors, not merchants.

    • earner profile imageAUTHOR

      Dedicated Content Curator 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you LondonGirl for your informative background information (and, I know, knowledge of law).

      Yes, until the Married Women's Property Act of 1882 women were not allowed to own anything - all their belongings becoming the possessions of the man. What a world!

      Therefore, as you rightly point out, the only women slave owners would have been single or widowed.

      I bet you had a peek at the list - and I wonder if your family owned any slaves. I know mine didn't (you can't help but look can you) :)

      All the best

    • LondonGirl profile image


      5 years ago from London

      Very interesting hub.

      In relation to women - it wasn't just about whether women were wealthy or not as to whether they owned property. Until the Married Women's Property Act in the second half of the 19th century, married women didn't own anything, slaves or otherwise. All their possessions were automatically passed to their husbands, and they owned nothing. So only women who were single or widowed could own property of any kind at all.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)