Wednesday, 25 November 2015

November 2015 Update: Hull & Beverley Connections

UCL Slavery Database - Hull and Beverley Connections

In 1833, slavery was abolished, and with emancipation came compensation. Not, however, for the enslaved who had endured a life of misery and suffering, but rather for the slave owners to the tune of £20m - a staggering amount now, but even more phenomenal then.

A recent exercise undertaken by University College London which attempts to trace the beneficiaries of the government’s decision to compensate slave owners for the loss of their slaves following the Emancipation Act makes very little reference to the city of Hull.

Indeed, the only individual cited as living in the city and linked to the slave trade was a Thomas Holt who was awarded the compensation for eight enslaved people from Falmouth, Jamaica. He inherited the compensation on the death of Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Holt. In the 1851 census he was recorded as an 80-year-old widower born in Jamaica, living at 63 Great Thornton Street, Hull with his 30-year-old daughter Jane who was born in Leeds.

The only other reference to the city comes with Elizabeth Haworth (née Foster), who inherited a share in the Lancaster estate in St Elizabeth, Jamaica, from her father Samuel Warren Foster. According to the 1801 census she was present in Hull for the birth of her daughter.

Relative to other cities more closely associated with the slave trade, these references seem minor by comparison.

If we broaden the exercise to the East Riding, there is a more noticeable entry, that of Stephen Denton who is described as a “returned slave owner awarded the compensation both as owner-in-fee of enslaved people and as trustee on John Hall and Somerset estate, and as mortgagee of the Devon and Green Vale and Norway estates.” All of these were located in Manchester, Jamaica. In total he was awarded in excess of £12,000 for the 637 slaves that he either owned outright or was mortgagee for between 1835 and 1836.

The Dentons went on to become one of the largest landowners in the Beverley area in the 1800’s, acquiring an area that included Hampston Hill Farm and Old Hall Farm, which is located in the Woodmansey area on the outskirts of the town.

There is one other reference to Beverley, Ebenezer Robertson, formerly of Jamaica but latterly of Beverley, East Yorkshire though no reference of slave ownership has been found.

The UCL database has open access and searches can be done by individuals, firms or addresses, so it makes fascinating reading when entering searches on prominent people in political circles.

Campaign Update

Thank you to our supporters and guest panellist for our recent Gardener’s Question Time event: horticulturalists Mike Kinnes, John Hickling and Doug Stewart, and florist Jo Pearson (Floral Studio) for an excellent occasion. We raised £250.60 on the evening.

The image is a reproduction of ’An Accurate Map of Yorkshire’ by Thomas Kitchin c. 1786 (ex-Boswell Atlas), seen at

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

October 2015 Update: The Unwitting Accomplice

The Unwitting Accomplice

We have heard it said by an eminent historian that Hull was on the right side of the country when it came to issues of the slave trade, but that doesn’t quite explain the full story. Whilst not a key player in the slave trade in the way that other more notable ports were (such as the Atlantic-facing Bristol and Liverpool), Hull was indirectly involved in the supply of raw materials for the expanding Yorkshire textile industry - particularly wool. As well as this, Hull ensured that its cotton industry obtained cheap raw material and all the textile industries obtained huge quantities of dyes (such as indigo and logwood) and dye fixatives.

Allison Edwards of the Diasporian Stories Research Group writes:
“The port of Hull became extremely important, for the export of West Riding raw wool and also, later, woollen and worsted cloth through the Aire – Calder navigation which connected the West Riding with the Humber before the development of the Leeds-Liverpool canal shifted trade west towards the port of Liverpool. The export of such goods to the Baltic States through Hull was reciprocated by the import of linseed, crushed in Hull for its oil, and vitally important materials for the Navy and for trading ships such as timber, hemp and large quantities of flax.  Such Baltic goods were also imported through Scarborough and Whitby - where ready use will have been made of the Baltic wood and the sails - eventually made from the imported flax - and ropes, from the imported hemp, in the construction of some of the slave ships there.”
Although tenuous in its links to Hull, what this history teaches us is that we can’t be complacent and even now as a port city we are likely to be unwittingly transporting products of slavery. This makes the recent piece of legislation (within the Modern Slavery Act 2015) that obliges transparency in any organisation’s supply chain more relevant. Whilst it will primarily affect organisations with a turnover of at least £36 million, others should take note and use this as part of their organisation’s own ethical footprint.

Campaign Update

We’d like to say a huge thank you to our 23 runners in the RB Hull Marathon. They raised nearly £3,000 towards our target of £20,000 to light the Wilberforce Monument and bring the story of abolition back into prominence.

Our next fundraising event is coming soon. Please look out for the venue, date and time to be confirmed.....

Some Key Documents

Released this month is the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Strategic Plan 2015-17 which is pivotal in how anti-slavery measures will be enacted

A series of films by Unchosen which highlight modern slavery

WISE Stolen Lives project looking at contemporary and historic slavery

Image Credit: An 'Aerial view of Queens Dock' from

Monday, 31 August 2015

Running for Change - August update

Modern slavery is happening everywhere and that means human trafficking, slavery, forced labour, and domestic servitude.

Victims tend to be vulnerable people either from the UK or abroad. Some of the industries associated with enslavement include brothels, farms, service industries and nail bars, and all have a common theme of people being coerced to work against their will.

The Modern Slavery Act is now in force but many regions are only now shaping their responses to incidents of slavery by identifying the single point of contact for front-line staff within key service areas such as the NHS, police, children’s services, education and charities, supporting those who are abused, homeless or otherwise disadvantaged.

In addition, information from the community, no matter how small or insignificant can play a vital role in tackling modern slavery. If you see something suspicious call the police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. For victim support, The Salvation Army offer a 24-hour confidential referral helpline on 0300 303 8151.

Some of the signs to look out for include:
  • Several adults who are not related living at a single address
  • People being regularly collected very early in the morning and/or returned late at night
  • Signs of injury, malnourishment and a general unkempt appearance
  • Isolation from the rest of the community
  • People who live and work at the same address under poor conditions
  • Women kept within houses where there are large numbers of male visitors
Click here to find out more about definitions of modern slavery.

Campaign Update

The Hull Marathon is on September 13th - come than see us, we will be near the monument! We have 24 runners: 4 individual runners and 5 relay teams running to raise funds to light the monument and highlight the issues associated with past and modern day slavery. Please support them by sponsoring at our Virgin Money Giving page.

Our teams are named after past and present day abolitionists and these are:
  • Elizabeth Heyrick - one of the few female abolitionists famed for the sugar boycotts and pushing for immediate rather than gradual abolition
  • Olaudah Equiano - a slave who bought his own freedom and then pressed for reforms in the treatment of slaves and for abolition using his own story
  • Thomas Clarkson - who devoted 61 years of his life in working for abolition and was instrumental throughout the movement for gathering first-hand evidence and artifacts that demonstrated the evil of slavery
  • Aidan McQuade - current director of Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights organisation which works to eradicate all forms of slavery
  • Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves and Professor of Contemporary Slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) at the University of Hull. He works to advise governments and is a key contributor to the Global Slavery Index. Read more about them here.
Our thanks this month goes to JJ Tatten and Stewart Baxter of The Warren for their sound advice, and Calvin Innes of Drunk Animal for his amazing re-design of our publicity material.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Light the monument, Light the message - July Update

At 10pm in the evening on Wednesday, 22nd July, the sky in Kingston-upon-Hull was not fully dark and the weather was getting chilly, but the conditions were perfect to record the first test lighting of the Wilberforce monument. The above photograph was the culmination of several hours of testing by Nayan Kulkarni, one of the recently appointed artists for the development of the Public Realm for City of Culture 2017.

Hull’s most famous son, illuminated at last! But for one short hour only!

After much frustration but with dogged persistence, the Fund has reached an important milestone on the road to being able to light the monument permanently in time for 2017. The lighting test was a complete success, and our thanks go to Nayan, Andrew Bell, Garry Taylor and the many others who have supported our efforts these past eighteen months.

This will be the first of several tests, and we will post updates and photographs as these tests progress. Our focus now is to secure the funding needed to turn the test into reality and deliver a permanent and tasteful lighting solution in time for January 2017.

The monument has its own special history; it had to compete against the York School for the Blind (closed in 1958) when it was seeking money for it to be erected and again the public played its role in getting it moved. The idea to relocate it to its current position was spoken about as early as 1899, and was brought about after much public objection to the fact that there were too many tramlines nearby with some even attached to the monument itself. One reader felt strongly enough to write to the Hull Daily Mail complaining that the Wilberforce monument was being desecrated, defaced and ridiculed! As we know, in 1935 it was finally moved again with public contributions.

We know that all good things come to those who wait, so from an initial idea of illuminating the monument with gas lights in 1854, it will finally get illuminated in 2017. Quite a wait, but with your help we can make this a reality many generations on. Sadly we have come to a time when lighting it won’t be just in celebration of the deeds of a great philanthropist but it will serve as a reminder to continue his work (and those of the many others) to focus on the scourge of modern day slavery.

Please help us in our fundraising effort and be part of it on our Virgin Money Giving page.

History of the monument taken from the book by Dr Carolyn Conroy, Homage to the Emancipator (available in Waterstones Hull, Museum bookshops, Amazon or at Lulu. All proceeds go to the Fund).

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Monumental Decision - 16th June

Hull City Council has decided to keep the Wilberforce monument where it is following its initial proposal back in July to relocate it to the centre of the city.

We are really pleased the decision has been made, and we can now press on to have the monument permanently illuminated in time for January 2017.

The Council will work with the charity to undertake some exciting testing of potential lighting schemes before summer’s end.

Once those tests are proved to be successful, the William Wilberforce Monument Fund will then focus its efforts on securing the final additional funding needed to create a lasting and impactful lighting solution.

The public had a part to play in erecting it 180 years ago, so we call on the generosity of the public in the 21st century and fair-minded people across the globe to help us celebrate the achievements of William Wilberforce and the abolitionists, and importantly embrace the new wave of awareness that is now needed to tackle modern day slavery.

Please help us in our fundraising effort and be part of it on our Virgin Money Giving page.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Lesson in History - Update 13th May

A Lesson in History

Ships then, boats now. The numbers lost to the scourge of human greed is truly horrific. There have been some recent high profile boat disasters involving migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. All the thousands of passengers were being smuggled - some were also being trafficked.

Human smuggling is not the same as human trafficking. This distinction was so eloquently made by a recent article by Klara Skrivankova, Head of Europe Programme at Anti-Slavery. Both are criminal acts and both are deplorable but they are not the same thing. Human trafficking (and therefore slavery) involves an element of coercion where someone is exploited through forced labour or prostitution. There are instances where one situation may overlap with another; it does not take much for someone who has been smuggled to become trafficked because of desperation or poverty. This is similar to someone who finds themselves having to flee from their home as a refugee or having to cope with the devastation reaped by mother nature. However, in order to address a person’s circumstances with a meaningful response, it serves us all well to not use terms such as people smuggling, people trafficking or refugees as interchangeable terms because they are not.

It is difficult to imagine what horrors lay beneath the waves when a reported 1,750 migrants died trying to cross the seas in the first four months this year. Compared to this time last year, this figure is said to be 30 times more. The single biggest loss of 700 migrants on 19th April came less than one month after Britain passed the modern slavery bill, and this illustrates the need for us to remain vigilant and not fall into the complacency of feeling that we have done something to combat the issue. Less than two weeks later over 7,000 migrants had to be rescued in another attempt at a perilous crossing.

These incidents show that changes in one nation’s domestic policy has an impact to a smaller or lesser degree on others, whether that has been self imposed or engineered by others. The ripples or seismic changes eventually reach us all, and this not necessarily easily contained within borders as the alteration of the status quo creates a climate of vulnerability. Without doubt there is a responsibility to look at cause and effect. Key points in history continue to have their own impact on the present, including the transatlantic slave trade, the Sykes-Picot divisions after WW1, and more recently the interventions in Libya and Iraq.

Campaign Update

Do you know anybody who is running the Hull Marathon? We are continuing to build the marathon team for Wilberforce and raise the profile of slavery.

We have three teams all named after abolitionists: Thomas Clarkson, Olaudah Equiano and Kevin Bales. Our next team, Elizabeth Heyrick, is nearly complete. We would like to name a few more abolitionists so let us know if you know any more runners who want to join in. Sponsorships for the whole effort can be made on our Virgin Money Giving page.

The image shows a group of children who were rescued from a British slave ship (the Daphne) after Parliament abolished the slave trade. Credit: Read more here.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Echoes From The Past - Update 8th April 2015

Modern Slavery Bill

The passing into law of the Modern Slavery Bill on 26th March 2015 represents one of the most progressive moments of recent times. The fact that an estimated 37 million people are enslaved around the world today tells us that this well deliberated bill is a necessary one and one which politicians of all persuasions have sought to secure. It seeks tighter regulations in Britain whilst beseeching other countries to do their part in combating this globalised criminal activity.

It is however important to emphasise that the passing into statute does not represent the end of a campaign, it merely marks the next step in the journey to eradicate the scourge of slavery that is endemic in our society. Legislation does not enable anyone to rest on their laurels it is often one of many steps towards effective action.

To take a lesson from history, the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade occurred in 1807 but the road from abolition to emancipation took 26 years followed by years of apprenticeship. Modern slavery has a different face and yet it would be depressing to think that it would take that length of time again before any real impact is made.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers

The momentum brought about by the emancipation of slaves in the United States and the former British colonies produced some notable developments. Whilst enslaved, many African American people took solace in the music they sung whilst working in the fields, songs which became known as spirituals. These songs elicited strong emotional responses as they spoke of the suffering and the emotions experienced by those in bondage, and the belief that the strength of their faith would offer deliverance.

In 1871 a cohort of former slaves took some of these songs to wider audiences in Europe. They aimed “to secure, by their singing, the fabulous sum of $20,000 for the impoverished and unknown school in which they were students" (Marsh, 1903, The Story of the Jubilee Singers, London, Hodder & Stoughton, p. 1). The Fisk University had been founded in 1866 in Nashville Tennessee by the American Missionary Association; evangelical abolitionists who believed in the power of education to help the advancement of former slaves.

On the singers’ first tour they did not visit many places in England but they visited Hull at least twice because of its connection to Wilberforce and notably visited on 1st August 1873, Emancipation Day (Rev Gustavus D. Pike - “The Singing Campaign Ten Thousand Poundsor, The Jubilee Singers in Great Britain"). A mark of their popularity was that nobility travelled some distances to hear their performance and on their second visit to Hull, they were presented with a gift of a fine oil portrait of Wilberforce as “a memento of the Jubilee work that will always be held in high regard" (Marsh, ibid, p.69) from a subscription of its citizens. After an absence of 140 years they return to Birmingham on May 23rd.

Campaign Update

We still welcome anyone who would be willing to run the Hull Marathon on behalf of the William Wilberforce Monument Fund – please email to let us know of your interest.

Our thanks go to Quentin Budworth and Rebecca Robyns for the very successful Changing Faces Exhibition. Also to Emily Gerrard who first raised the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ connection to Hull.

Image credit - The Fourth Visit to Great Britain, The Fisk University Jubilee Singers – programme from Wilberforce House archives.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Week Events Update - 15th March 2015

It has been a busy week for the William Wilberforce Monument Fund, so here are a few updates to keep you in the loop. Firstly, we had the second annual quiz on Friday (13th March) and would like to share the following note:

Secondly, Gifty has been featured on local photographic portrait website 'The Changing Face of Hull'. The website explores ideas of self, city and shared identity across the city. You can read Gifty's profile which discusses the Wilberforce Fund by visiting the Changing Face website.

And finally, last week we enjoyed a welcome meeting for runners who are interested in running the Hull Marathon on behalf of the William Wilberforce Monument Fund. The event was hosted at Kardomah 94 in Hull, and it was great to hear the enthusiasm from all attendees (image below).

Thank you for your continued support. Take a look at the About Slavery tab for more information about slavery through the ages up to the present day, and see the Donate tab for information on how you can contribute to the fund.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Modern Slavery Bill Progress & Campaign Update - 24th February 2015

Modern Slavery Bill Progress

The Modern Slavery Bill reached the Report stage yesterday (Monday 23rd February), where the legislators have a further opportunity to examine and make amendments to the bill. This will be followed by two more stages before it gains royal assent and becomes law. The provisional date for the 3rd reading in the House of Lords is March 4th. Since it was first introduced in June last year, the bill has undergone a series of tweaks and due diligence to craft it so that it is fit for purpose, although some groups still feel it does not go far enough particularly in addressing the rights of victims.

The bill is clearly aimed at providing the legal place for defining and prosecuting criminals, protecting and supporting victims and promoting accountability through corporate responsibility. Alongside this is the Modern Slavery strategy document issued in November last year which is intended to be a comprehensive cross-government approach to fighting modern slavery.

This was undoubtedly a necessary move in the right direction given the fragmented understanding of a new problem. However, on a local level, many police authorities have had to play catch-up as they formulate a coherent system to recognise the problem. They have had to devise a protocol for recording incidences and nominate a pivotal person as the central source to collate and recognise emerging patterns.

Historically it takes activists to affect change and again it has taken many groups including Anti-Slavery International, Salvation Army, Hope for Justice etc as well as local groups such as Hull: Slave Free City and ourselves to encourage focus, education and training. The reality is that as well as frontline staff, it needs a wider audience to be vigilant as it takes every person to notice and respond.

Campaign Update

The monument has been in the press again but the inference is that it is unlikely to move given the funding issues relating to the move. Also the re-modelling of the centre of Hull and Queen's Gardens needs to be taken into account. Our stance on this has always been neutral and we remain committed to lighting the monument in whatever location it is situated.

Thank you to Mrs Andrews at Biggin Hill Primary School in Bransholme for inviting us to look at the follow-up work after their visit to Wilberforce House.

There is still time to buy tickets for the Wilberforce Annual Quiz at Cottingham Parks Golf Club. Please email us - tickets are £3 per person and it is 4 people per table/team.

If you plan to run the Hull Marathon, why not get sponsored and do it for the Fund? You can make the event even more memorable by helping us to light the Wilberforce monument to raise awareness of historic and modern day slavery. Please email your interest today or come and join us at our welcome meeting at Kardomah94 on 7th March.

We thank Freedom Festival and Hull Marathon for showing their support.

The image is an official government poster for their current modern slavery awareness campaign, and is taken from the Lincolnshire Police website.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Become A Modern Day Abolitionist – Campaign Update January 2015

Become A Modern Day Abolitionist

In the time of Wilberforce, much of the evidence used in pro-slavery propaganda was of dubious origin and in some instances it was fabricated to salve the conscience of the masses. As American novelist Toni Morrison has commented, “Slavery broke the world in half, it broke it in every way. You can’t do that for hundreds of years and it not take a toll. They had to dehumanise, not just the slaves but themselves. They had to reconstruct everything in order to make the system appear true”*.

Each age of abolitionists used the tools they had at the time. In Wilberforce’s and Clarkson’s time they used firsthand accounts, signed petitions, artefacts and the visual representation of slave experiences in their anti-slavery material. Whilst the true horror of the experiences of the enslaved is so enormous and appalling that it is often beyond visual depiction or expression of language, it has to be represented in some ways.

Some of the constructs and values held by the anti-slavery camp were not without reproach. Sometimes they reinforced racial stereotypes and perpetuated the notion of white benevolence that was so prevalent in subsequent commemorative memorabilia. In common with the past however, it is necessary to stir people’s consciousness with the truth of the violence and injustice suffered by many.

Enslaved people cannot be seen as a collective as each person’s suffering is individual. Indeed, the multiracial aspect of modern slavery makes it less prone to the sort of religious or racist belief systems that helped keep it in place for centuries. We are slowly waking up to the fact that as consumers, slavery touches all of us in some form. The world is a smaller place.

Now slavery is not socially acceptable but rather a practice in all its forms. Many people find these forms abhorrent and therefore slavery hides in the shadows, only flourishing through deception, concealment and cunning. It can only be addressed by talking about it, recognising it, legislating against it and having strong anti-slavery campaigns wrought by individuals and governments.

The campaign to light the monument serves not only as a memorial to the voices of past abolitionists but also as a declaration of the new voices recognising the injustice of oppressive behaviour still present today by those who want to benefit through other people’s suffering.

Be a modern abolitionist by literally shining a light on the subject of slavery and educating yourself into awareness so slavery finds less dark corners in which to flourish.

Campaign Update

Run the Hull Marathon for Wilberforce! The Hull Marathon this year will start and finish at the Wilberforce monument. We are appealing for runners to run to raise money for our charity. The event can be run on an individual basis or as a member of a 4 person relay. Get in touch with us via email, then get sponsored and help us light the monument in recognition of Hull’s connection with William Wilberforce. We have 10 runners to date! Donations and sponsorships can be made through Virgin Money Giving or by emailing us.

Our thanks this month go to the artist Quentin Budworth and Clare Huby from Roots and Wings for some excellent advice on funding. Thank you to Glynis Neslen for putting our name forward to receive Liz Dees’ model of the monument made for the parade at Freedom Festival – this has now become an excellent resource.

The image is taken from the World Trade Women and Finance blog.

*This was quoted in the essay ‘Small Acts’ by Paul Gilroy which can be found in Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America by Marcus Wood).