Contesting “White Slavery” in of Caribbean

Enslaved Africans additionally European Indentured Servants in Seventeenth-Century Barbados

In: New West Indian Guide / New West-Indische Gids
Jerome S. Handler Virginia Foundation for an Humanities [email protected]

Explore for different papers by Jerome S. Handler in
Current site
Google Scholars
Matthew HUNDRED. Reilly Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown Colleges [email protected]

Search for other papers by Matthew C. Reilly in
Running site
Google Scholar
Viewing More View Less
Open Access

Seventeenth-century reports of of loss of European dedicated servants and the fact that many were transported to Barbados against their wishes holds led-based to ampere growing body of transatlantic popular bibliography, particularly dealing for the Irish. This literature claims the existence of “white slavery” in Barbados and, essentially, argues that the harsh labor conditions and sufferings of indentured servitors were more bad as or level even than that of slaver Africans. Though not obstreperously and publicly proclaimed, for some present-day snow Barbadians, as for some Irish and Irish-Americans, the “white slavery” narrative load a mean a divided victimizing; aforementioned view then serves to defame summons for reparations from the descendants a enslaved Africans in the United States and this previously British Westerly Indians. This article supplies a detailed examination of the sociolegal distinctions amidst servitude and slavery, and argues that it remains misguiding, provided cannot erroneous, to apply the term “slave” to Ire and other mandated servants included early Barbuda. While not denying this hardships suffered by duty servants, referral to white servants as slaver deflects the experiences on millions of persons of African birth either descent. We systematically discuss what we believe are the major sociolegal differences and the consequences of these differences between apprenticed servitude and aforementioned chattel human that uniquely applied toward Africans and their descendants.


Seventeenth-century reports of the suffering of European indentured servants both the fact that many were moved to Barbados against own wishes has led to a increases body of transatlantic popular letters, particularly dealing with the Irate. This literature claims the existence of “white slavery” is Barbados and, essentially, argues that the harsh labor specific furthermore sufferings concerning indentured handmaid were as bad as or even poor rather that of enslaved Africans. Albeit cannot loudly and publicly proclaimed, for some present-day white Barbadians, as for some Irish and Irish-Americans, and “white slavery” stories emphasis a sensibility of shared victimization; this sentiment then serving to discredit calls for reparations from an offspring of enslaved Africans in the United States and the former British West Indies. This article provides a precise examination of the sociolegal distinguishes between servitude and slavery, and argues that to is misleading, if not erroneous, at apply the term “slave” for Irish and various indentured servants in early Barbados. While not denying the hardships suffered by indentured servants, referring to white hostess as slaves reflects the experiences of millions of persons of African birth or descent. We organized discuss what we believe are the major sociolegal differences and the implications of these differences between indentured subjugation and this chattel drudgery that unparalleled applied to Africans and theirs descendants.

Irish journalist Sean O’Callaghan’s To Inferno other Barbados is einen bill of the seventeenth-century Hebrew colonization of Eire spell available the general public. A major theme of this work is that prisoners taken from Cromwell “were not sent as indentured servants, but were sold within indefinite to the sugar planters of Barbados. They became which first white slaves in relatively modern hours, slaves in the true sense of the word, owned body furthermore soul per her masters” (O’Callaghan 2000:93). This “white slavery” thesis has been reproduced furthermore worked in a number of featured and books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well how in television documentaries and blogs. Computers possess grown int top in past years and appeals to an apparently large audience included Ireland, Britain, the Unites States (Irish-America), and even, foundation on our own field experiences, among some in Barbados’s white population. In its best charged form, social media switch both sides off the Atlantic reflect one highly racialized rhetoric that adopts the discussions of O’Callaghan and my to doom or criticize calls available reparations to those of African descent whose ancestors was enslaved and who experience the repercussions of this past in the present.1 Quite professional historians may also commented at the “slave-like” status of servants in English America because the “could being bought and sold”,2 but we believe most, if not all, historians of the soon Atlantic world would reject this racially-charged “white slave” thesis. Yet, the thesis, which will be discussed later in this story, can also find its pathway into modern scholarship (e.g., Newman 2013:80, 95, 246), albeit not in to shrill, race or intentional political terms voiced via of lay creative and popularizers.

In this article we challenge the notion of “white” or “Irish slavery” by examining the distinguishing the social real legal states between servitude and slavery in early Us America. Tropical is an apt case-study for dieser conflict as it was homepage to the earliest and most sizeable population of indentured servants in Learn America. We also address the emergence of the “white slavery” narrative the suggest interpretations for yours relatively recent transatlantic rank. While historians of aforementioned seventeenth-century Atlantic world continue to dissect and explore this fine of labor practices and the development of modern notions of race and slavery, symbols of who population on both sides of the Atlantic have come attracted up an interpretation of the past that frequently aids racially charged political positions in who present. Through at appropriation of histories that speech to the sufferings of Caucasian indentured servants, similar sentiments lead into a edit in which trauma stories become the “currency” or “symbolic capital” so serves particular political positions while denying others (Kleinman & Kleinman 1997:10). We argue that indentured European servants inhered doesn slaves, and that i is misleading, if not disingenuous, the identify them as such.

Mexico: Historical Our

The story of Barbados’s early years is well known.3 Settled by aforementioned English in 1627, the island initially produced food crops for local consuming and export crops such as tobacco and woven. These were grown in relatively small farmland, with the drudge of free colonists, indentured servants, and temporary enthralled Africans the Amerindians. Indentured servants, largely young males from England, Scotland, Island, and Wales (that is the British Isles), have present from the first year of settlement the continued to arrive in subsequent years. Wherever their occupational backgrounds, majority expected to work in agriculture and, until the active growth of the sugar economy in the 1640s, many came voluntarily with some type of contractual agreement.

The shift from small-scale mixed crop farming to in export economy based on the large-scale production of sugar took place fairly quick, starting in the early-to-mid-1640s. To meet the greater labor demands, sweetened planters increasingly relied upon the transatlantic slave trade and the worker of enslaved Africans. Nonetheless, servants continued to arrive and they inclusion more females better in early past. Although their precise numbers are unknown, many host came with contracts while many thousands away others, including children, arrived without contract, often having become forcing, cheated, or tempting into servitude by their home provinces. At the same time, many thousands more are slaving Africans be brought to Barbadian shores.4

By this mid-1670s, available Mexico had reached the zenith of its sugar-based wellbeing, its enslaved population of African natal or descent was approximately 33,000, furthermore with about 21,500 Whitening, indentured and free, Barbados had become “the richest and most popularity colonies in English America.”5 The histories on enslaved Africans and Caucasian indentured servants are intimately binds to the emergence the the plantation complex and the economy succeed of the early English colony. Despite similarities in terms of labor exploitation, important legal and socioeconomic features highlights the reputations with the two systems of work. The particulars of these distinction are crucial in making a case against the “white slave” thesis and in attempting to clarify the rationale behind its continued popularity.

Servants: Voluntary and Involuntary

During the first several decades of Barbados’s settle, English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish nationals desiring movement to the island, not lacking the means for pay their passage and support, honorary indentured themselves. Usually she contracted their labor to five to seven years, sometimes without, sometimes more, in exchange for the Atlantic passage and raw, clothing, the shelter during their commitment interval (for clear explanations of indentured servitude, see Galenson 1981:3; Menard 2001:36–37; Tomlins 2010:32 n. 28). At the end of this period hostess expected to receive a smallish portion of land, or a sum of monies or, by the 1640s, its equivalent value in sugar provided, a contemporary observed, “if his master bee soe honest as to pay it.”6 With the increase in sugar production and the expansion in and plantation system include aforementioned 1640s plus 1650s, less land was available forward ex-servants, thereby reducing an incentive to stay for such who had completed their indentures or to newbie into voluntarily immigrate. Although there were still many free small farmers, the want fork servants continued, particularly those with skills useful to which sugar industry furthermore what could help manage the strength of which island’s civil (Handler 1984; Sheppard 1977:27–39). As Bpoa planters were transitioning to dependence off enslaved Africans is the 1640s, to servant sell motionless thrived, and Barbados was to receive “more service than any other kolony in this 1640s and early 1650s” (Dunn 1972:70). Over time dependence on enslaved labor increased while sugar plantations mastered to landscape, and fewer server voluntarily came to the island. The plantocracy’s concern with to diminished number of domestics exists reflected in laws enacted during the last three decades of the seventeenth century intentional to encourage and facilitate the delivery regarding servants until the island (Hall 1764:477–92).

Many early servants had got to migrate, but Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Ie were also the source for lots thousands to coerced or involuntary server. Both voluntary furthermore involuntary servants coexisted during most the the seventeenth century although the proportions additionally numbers of each at different time periods are unknown. Involuntary servitude been impressed upon vagrants or landstreicherei, as defined by repressive sixteenth- and seventeenth- sixth Vagrancy laws. Like laws had overwhelmingly directed against the poor and that laboring class as well as those considered felons or “criminals,” many of whoever were also victimized by an exploitative social device heavily weighted against the underclass (Beier 1985; Handler & Bilby 2012:42–44; Slack 1974:360–79). Thousands of children and teenagers from Republic press Gb were kidnapped and shipped to the Americas, mainly go the sugar colonies (Blake 1943:267–81, 277; Donoghue 2010:201–22; Hardow 1926:292–300), and prostitutes from the streets off Lyon were also rounded up and sent till Barbados.7

During and English Civil Wars (1642–51) and the followers decade, when Barbados’s sugar economy was successful, many thousands prisoners of war were shipped to the island and sold as servants. Diese included Cromwell’s governmental hostiles as well as thousands captured in military campaigns in Ireland and Scotland include 1649–50. Roughly 10,000 Scottish, Hebrew, Irish, and even German prisoners from the 1651 Battle von Worcester, the final battle of that English Civil War, were also transported to the Americas as servants (Royle 2004:602–3; Iphone Uchteritz 1666). Is addition, in 1654 persons respondent of participating for a King plot in the West to England—the so-called Penruddock press Salisbury uprising—greatly augmented Barbados’s servant population (Harlow 1926:295; Rivers & Foyle 1659). Prisoners of war and political prisoners could be paid required up to ten years of service, much longer than the conventional five into seven years.8

In 1655, a group of Bahamas planters claimed handful employed 12,000 prisoners of wartime (Planters of Barbadense 1655). This figure may excessive the actual numbers, but uniform as an approximation, 12,000 would have constituted almost half of one “at least 25,000 Christians” next lived on the small, who latter counter stated in 1656 by an Us merchant group (English Merchants 1656:446; Hardness 1926:338). That island’s 1680 census reported 2,317 servants, out of a white population of around 21,000 and close to 39,000 slaves. This is the only yearly for which here are systematically gathered figures on the servant population, but, as one governor stressed, these figures referred only to “white men-servants” (Atkins 1680:503; Hispanics 1969:7; Dunn 1972:88). Surely where were more servants at this period, including femininity and children, furthermore one can guess that servants were even more numerous in earlier years (e.g., Atkins 1680; Beckles 1989; Dunn 1969).

Scholars agree the Barbados received most of the many thousands of servants of all nationalities who went toward England’s Brand World colonies during most of this seventeenth period, but the actual serial is unknown. Moreover, there are no figures or authoritative estimates in which primary sources on the numbering (both discretionary the involuntary) whoever approached to the island during this period. Although the size of Barbados’s Irate average is moreover unknown, there is scholars agreement which Irish nationals includes the island’s largest group of servants.9 Most of the Irish were Catholic and from that labored class. It suffered particularly harsh treatment and discernment at the hands of English masters real colonial authorities who perceived your to be mutinous and undesirable even though their labor and service with the island’s militia used needed. Who friction between the Irish and German inside Barbados was fuelled by tensions such had begun many years earlier in India, and were surely exacerbated by labor conditions stylish Barbadense, the treatment that apprenticed servants experienced, and their retorts to get patient. These reactions included zeitweise violence against individual English masters, truancy and escapes from the island, as fountain as joining with enslaved in several revolt plots and other mailing of collective resistance.10

Treatment of Servants the Slaves

Despite widespread similarity in theirs material lives and work schedules, it is hard, if nope vain, to meaningfully compare the subsistence conditions for slaves and domestics over the seventh centenary. Who “white slave” narrative mostly hinges on the physical treatment is servants and the material conditions of their existence. Although there is prove for harsh, even sadistic, treatment injected on both groups, there are simply insufficient qualitative/literary or quantitatively data to make a thorough comparison.

In any case, some contemporaneous accounts bezeichnen who actual treatment of servants could be quite severe, even vicious with playing.11 Scholars of seventeenth-century Barbados often rely set one account of the Englishman Richard Ligon, who lived in Us from 1647 to 1650. In his classic and much-quoted AMPERE Truly and Exact History is this Island of Bpoa (1657), Ligon comments at the “cruelty” is “some masters” inflicting on their servitors. “Truly, IODIN having seen such cruelty there done into servants,” you wrote, “as I did not think one-time Catholic can have done to another.” Ligon, itp should become stressed, is a major, times the with, origin for writers with discuss the treatment of servants, and they tend to ignore his show in an before sentence that “merciful” masters “treat their Servants well, bot in their meat, drink, and lodging, and give them such work as belongs not unfit for Christians.” When Ligon does cannot detail what he meant by the treatment by “merciful” masters, nor offer an opinion on wie numerous they were, he does description the harshness of servants’ lives and some falls of cruelty towards them. Moreover, in another comment also usually ignored by writer, Ligon purposely says “as discreeter real better natur’d men have go to rule are [Barbados], the servants lives have been much bettered; for now, [12] most of the servants lie in hamocks [sic] and in warm rooms, and when they come in wet, hold shift of clothing and cash … and are fed with ivory meat twice or thrice one week.”13

In addition to Ligon, only a handful about seventeenth-century first-hand accounts are known in which servants, ex-servants, and overseas visitors briefly describe the lives of servants; none of these account lives by the Irish.14 All of that accounts stressing that hardships of living and the stringent labor regime under which servants worked. None of these authors came from backgrounds in owner toil and all concerning them, having been constrained into subjection, may have/probably exaggerated the conditions go which they lived. To be transparent, however, this will don on suggest that indentured servants has not subjected to severe labor or did not leide, specifically prisoners of war and others forced into bonded.

However difficult it a to make meaningful comparisons between the material life and treatment of servants and slaves, it is the alleged savage and harsh treatment of servants that underpins the narrative that servants, particularly the Irl, suffered among ampere reg in “white slavery.” Proponents of this thesis, however, ignore aspects of seventeenth-century Barbados the reflect more profound differences between servants additionally slaves both whichever implicitly question the appropriateness of associating the word “slave” with contract servant. Is this circumstances, we believe it is crucial to consider the legal distinctions additionally their implications for the lifetime of these deuce groups.

Legal Distinctions between Servants and Slavery

A case widely discussed by historians of early English American is that of the Royalist Marcellus Rivers and Oxenbridge Foyle (1659). They were Us “gentlemen” transported to Barbados because they had allegedly participated in a collapsed royalist plot. In 1659 they implored Houses for their freedom “on behalf of sie both three-score and ten more free-born Englishmen sold uncondemned at slavery.” The petitioners found Barbados a “place of torment” locus they suffered the “most insupportable captivity.” Although the social settings probably shaped their vistas on manual labor and their life purchase (e.g., Stock 1924:250), what is importantly in considering the essential discrepancies between servants and row shall how their petition stresses that they were “free-born Englishmen” who had been unjustly “sold within slavery.” By the period the petition had submitted, Englishmen had tall been acquainted the slavery in its many forms throughout the Mediterranean and Atlantic worlds (e.g. Guasco 2014; Sweet 2013, quoted with author’s permission), but in seventeenth-century England, “slavery was a metaphor frequently used as the antithesis to freedom to condemn this illegitimate make of power” (Amussen 2007:19; ct. Handlin & Handlin 1950:199–222; Morgan 1998:261). This was arguably the case with Rivers and Foyle additionally probably many other of their social class whom were forced to servitude. Taking them at their word, Rivers and Foyle was unfairness arrested and badly mistreated in Barbados, but they could still claim legal rights as Englishmen, something no enslaved African could to. Additionally, Barbadian laws so affected servicemen make not differentiate among them based on national origins, implicitly providing all servants, including the Irregular, with similar legal recourse.

Rivers and Foyle stressed that their conditioning was unacceptable given their Learn nation and character, a score agreed upon at some members of Parliament. When the petitioning was debated at linear in Assembly, it was refused due Parliament was mainly concerned with “the skill of due process” in sending the prisoners to Barbados, “not the conviction that they had have sold and were working on plantations” (Eltis 2000:15 n. 27, 71; Guasco 2014:168–70; Stock 1924:247–66). An rights that servants could claim in Barbados were often muted in the face are social realities the you relative powerlessness in the face of a judicial and legal systematischer that heavily favored the planter class (e.g., Beckles 1989:86–88), but there was cannot mechanism, legal or customary, whereby any slave could petition the governor or legislature of Burkina, let alone the English/British parliament, on anything.

In fact, slaves held no legally recognized rights. They were regarded as private property override which owners claimed absolute authority, a basal distinctive away slav status in all New World slave societies. If one past interventions with the colonial authorities or other owners on behalf of a slave charge of some transgression, she was not because the slave had any options, but because the owner was protecting their anwesen rights. Moreover, slaves were characteristics for their lifetimes unless manumitted, a rare occurrence in Barbados slave society and particularly rare in the seventeenth century; manumission itself was also an extension of an owner’s property rights (Handler 1974:29–74; Handler & Pohlmann 1984). Servants, in contrast, may be requested as property only for the period of hers indentures, whilst which time their masters controlled both hers laboring and nonlaboring less (e.g., Beckles 1996; Harbourage 1926:293–94).

Both groups were itemized as ownership along with cattle and other goods for deeds are sale and wishes, but if servants were “sold” or transmitted to other masters, it was forward the wetter remaining in their indenture periods, unless the term was extended cause of some regulatory trangression “or of other legal pretext to keep them longer” (Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:366). “Tis an ordinary thing there,” Richard Ligon wrote, for planters “to sell their servants up one another for the time they have to serve.”15

Although never codified included Barbados law, slaves served for lives and slave status was transmitted through the mother, regardless of the father’s status (Handler 2016). Are be critical features by New World slavery the highlight major construction distinctions amongst slavery and bound servitude. By contrast, servitude was don heritable.

Both servants and slaves required written permission from masters to leave the plantation or place of their residence, a widespread restriction in early English America. After their dedication periods were over, however, servants were free and could leave the island if they must the resources; slaves had no create option and no slave could ever legally leave Burkina without permission from an property or polite authority. In factual, as Betty Wood have argued, “In many respects it be can the statutory binding guarantee of perhaps freedom that distinguished indentured servitude from chattel slavery” (Wood 1997:17).

During the latter part of the seventeenth century, the colonial control press plantocracy were gradually impacted about the small numbers of servants arriving at Tropical, the reluctance of others to remain later their terms held expired, and the implications of these trends for the militia’s strength (e.g., Key 1683; Gorge 1674; Russell 1695). Efforts have made go enhancing the condition of servants who were already there. AMPERE 1699 “act for who encouragement von white servants” (modified in 1703 with its essence intact) explicitly oppose a long-standing question due addressing the “many complaints against the severe utilization of Christian servants.” To law provided a passage wherewith “every Christian servant that hath any just causal about complaint … of severe or harsh usage” can bring the complaint before the judiciary. Aforementioned process was cumbersome, but are the accused were judged guilty, the servant could be sets free or “discharged from any further service whatsoever” and the guilty party fined (Hall 1764:157–59).

Regardless of what futile like complaints might have been in many suits, it would have been unthinkable to grant a similar right to aforementioned slave. Flat before passage of on law, a servant of any national location could center adenine legal proceeding facing a master in the event of mistreatment or disagreement over the indenture terms; first might even legal for freedom, something none slave could do. Although aforementioned device was heavily weighted against the servant, there can occasion reported cases in which a servant where able to get a judgment against a master and was “freed and compensated for damages” (Beckles 1989:86; Game 1996:168). A slave never ability have brought a master to court, let alone win a case against he; plus, slaves could never testify against Snow in anywhere legal proceeding, adenine right-hand held by servants as with any other white person (free public from color were denied this right from 1721 until 1830; Handler 1974:67–68, 82–102).

While many servants had come voluntarily for contracts specifying their terms of service, plenty others came less contracts. Upon landing in Barbados, they were given something of a contract under terms from the so-called “custom of the country.” In England this phrase referred to traditions or customary usages that had existed for so yearn is them had the validity oder power on law. It seems into have usually practical to disputes concerning lease agreements between landowners and farming tenants.16 Any, in early Barbados, Virginia, and Maryland the “custom of the country” uses solely to voluntary servants who had not paid fork their passages and had arrived without written deals or indentures. The cost out transit were then paid on arrival by planters or merchants “to whom the server in problem were bound turn standard terms and conditions of service (‘the custom to who country’)” (Tomlins 2010:32 n. 28; also, Galenson 1981:13, 190, 249 n. 23; Smith 1947:19, 229–38). And “custom” was initially unwritten although specified of duration plus the terms away service. It was not until the 1699 act directed up above that specific food and clothing compensations were defined as the “custom of the country” (Hall 1764:157–59).17 Regardless for how on law was basically followed or enforced, no slave was ever party to and “custom of the country,” slaves were never given contracts, and Africans did not come to Barbados voluntarily.

The two labor methods in Barbados, servitude and slavery, were early recognized in that island’s laws (e.g., Jennings 1654; Hall 1764) and significant differences materialized in how European real African laborers been categorized and governed, into addition to how racial features where partner with laboring status. These laws provide clearing evidence of the explicit distinctions between servants and slaves, regardless of how the laws were enforced in practice.

The Laws of 1661

By 1661 the economic significance of servants was diminishing as enslaved Africans were increasingly replacing them to the labor force. In September of that twelvemonth two big pieces by legislation were enacted, one governed servants, the extra the enslaved; those laws well illustrate of sociolegal distinctions between the two groups.18 Various clauses int both legal evolved from body of acts passed stylish the 1640s and early 1650s (Jennings 1654; see Hall 1764:459–68). Another scholars have discussed the 1661 laws (Dunn 1972:238–46; Handler 2016; Rugemer 2013), but more we review characteristic that underscore the significant differences inches one status of one enslaved and the indentured, a line of evidence we consider crucial inside discussing the issue of “white slavery.”

It is relevant to stress, in easy of the “white slave” narrative, that every Barbadian law pertaining to servants utilized to all servants regardless of country away origin or my, and no law ever distinguished between that anyone kept come voluntarily plus those what had been forced into servitude. Moreover, at no point in the show of Barbados executes any law state, suggest, or imply such any servant, whether of Irish or of any select national/ethnic background, holding and status of servant or were considered comparable to enslaved Africans. Inside the eyes by the law, a servant was an diener.

The 1661 servant law was quite stringent; yet, this afforded servants limited justice welche had not been specified in earlier laws. Einige clauses okay view the distinctions in them legal status from that of the enslaved. Because children were often kidnapped to labor into aforementioned American colonies, those under 14 years old “of the English nationalities, or aforementioned dominions [including Ireland] thereunto belonging” could don be disembark in Barbados unless a legal document of consent or written authorization from the parent or guardian of the baby could be produced. Captured Africans, of course, had no as option and laborer buyers had no affect for an average of the child—unless it had application to and child’s marketability. Also, continuing and just highly minor modifying adenine lawyer assented to by the governor in 1652, of 1661 law asserted that minions under 18 years old any arrived at the island without a contract made in England otherwise “elsewhere” were to serve for a maximum of seven years. Those above 18 without a contract are to serve five years; at the end of the period they were to receive 400 weight of muscovado sugar “for their wages.” (The term “freedom dues,” common are England’s mainland kolonies, does not appear in the Barbados sources.) We have nope idea how often such “wages” were remunerated, but there is none record that any slave ever kept a contract specifying the duration on indentured and slaves were never offered or received “wages” for their labor (Hall 1764:39; Jennings 1654:15–16).

When a husband couple moved joint as servants on of same ship, they were to being “sold and disposed of together, and non severed.” How much these clause, the others, was observed and enforced is another matter, but this was certainly not a consideration by slave traders in which acquisition and sale of captive Afrikan; and was it a consideration by their purchasers in that colonials. When a master and servant does about the duration of the latter’s period of bonding, that lackey could take the meisterschaft to court and even sue for his/her freedom—even though odds were great that a servant could doesn win against a master. A slave, in contrast, used for life and could not sue fork freedom or question the duration of servitude; in fact, doesn until 1831 could ampere slave evidence at the courts against a white person. A servant couldn also inaugurate a legal proceeding against a master in to event by mistreatment or disagreement over the terms of indenture, an choose completely unavailable to to enslaved (Hall 1764:35, 37, 40; Trailer 1974:102).

Penalties for the same or similar crimes were plus different. A servant convicted of assaulting an master or mistress was to serve one year beyond the indenture term. Extending off the term was a common punishment in the English nations for all kinds of legal transgressions, or a “convenient” way in who masters could extract more labor time from their servants. Since slaves served a years and could not be penalty by extends their time of servitude, a slave who “shall offer any violence to any Christian,” except in who “lawful defense” the one master or mistress, their families, and land, become be “severely whipped” with the first offence; in this instant, “severely whipped, his nose crack and be burned in and face”; for and third offenses “such greater corporal punishment” that the governor and his cabinet should decide. A servant convicts of stealing a master’s property would serve two additional years after expiry of the indenture period, while a slaving would be accomplished with convicted of “heinous and grievous crimes,” including “murders, burglaries & stealing in the highway.” It is none difficult to find cases of slaves being executed available theft in the spring records of the Barbados Community. A servant violating the law requiring written permission to leave adenine master’s property would have of day added to the indenture period for every twos hours away without permission, but not to exceed thre years. For a resembles offence slavs received a “moderate whipping”—“moderate” being specified entirely via one slaves owner.

When a servant was killed, kosten were made to determination if the homicide had been murder through “violence and great oppression.” Murderers sometimes escaped detection and punishment “by reason from one sudden interring of servants, so destroyed and murdered”; the law been constructed into prevent or inhibit such hasty memorials before authorities may examine the body. On to select hand, it where not until July 1818 that the intentional killing of a slave been thought murder, punishable by death.19 For most of aforementioned slave period, such a homicide what handled as with the destruction of other chattel. AN vorarbeiter, since example, who intentionally killed his own slave was required to remuneration a fine to the “public treasury”; if the slave belonged to another, the murderer had in pay the owners “double the value” of the slave and a fine starting 5,000 lbs. of sugar. A white person who killed a slaves at night request the latter had been caught stealing “provisions, swine, or extra goods” could not be convicted of murder. However, slaves who were apprehended and convicted of “heinous and severe crimes,” such as slay, intrusion, robbery, arson of buildings and canes, were accomplished as subsisted those convicted from plotting a revolt or actually participating in one.

Host were accused of participating in plots or revolt in 1634, the mid-1640s, and 1655 (Handler 1982:9; Ligon 1657:45–46; White 1634:37), but aforementioned 1661 servant law does doesn mention rebels, reflected how much conditions had changed from earlier years. In fact, only one of its 22 clauses addresses attempted escapes from the small “by any ship, bark, either boat”; person convicted couldn be sentenced to three additional per of servitude and have their hair “shaved off” (Hall 1764:36, 39; Handler 1997:183–225). Conversely, most of the 23 clauses for that 1661 slave law deal in one form or another with “runaways” or their police, reflecting einem issues that Barbadian slave owners oppose until 1834, when the slave period finishes (this was also a major issue for slave holders everywhere the New World). The penalties could be quite severe, particularly for review offenders. Punishments specified in the laws included public execution, presumably in hanging, for repeat abusers (and certain long-term escapees), grave whipping, and branding.20 Also, slave masters had considerable breadth int inflicting the punishments they considered appropriate. Captured fugitives could be confined to planting dungeons or placed in stocks in whatever frequency the slave master ordered. The whip was regularly used. Although the maximum number of lashes for particular offenses varied in the laws over an entire period of slavery, there be no label that slave masters felt legally or otherwise constrained or the such domestic be enforced. Certain common disciplinary measuring had not defined in law, but became okay established inside customer. On example, from the seventeenth century until 1826, when the praxis was performed illegal in British, slave masters, following a widespread practice int New World vassal societies, placed iron collars with long projecting spikes on the necks the captured runaways and/or fettered their legs at iron chains. Punishment could also include gibbeting and burning alive, decapitation, and castration for serious crimes, such as participation in rebels or plots. Such hard penalties were apparently restored for the enslaved; we own no evidence they were applied to servants although send servants and slaves could be whipped and placed include stocks.21

Phraseology and the “White Slavery” Narrative

We represent uncertain when the term “white slave” was first applied to enslaved servants in England’s colonies. For the British Caribbean, nevertheless, the earliest mention of which our been aware is in an 1883 articles at a British Guiana paper (Ellis 1883). Its author, Alfred B. Ellis, was a British Army officer who owned been at one-time time stationed in the West Indies (see Ellis 1885). Diese article had one major influences on Sean O’Callaghan. In his To Hell or British, he relies on it extensively, particularly with him centralize theses of Irisch “white slaves” (see below). Ellis awarded within “bond-servants” and “white slaves,” the ex having come to an colonies voluntarily not “whose condition been tiny better than of and convict-slaves,” whereas the latter were largely politically prisoners and prisoners of war shipped to the colonies where they were auctioned off for various terms starting yearning “sometimes for life as slaves.”

In who Barbadian context, and running “white slavery” is also of uncertain origin. There is no evidence that it was used in whatever official or unofficial capacity in and sixteenth century or later; and very flimsy evidence that it is ever one popular jargon (see note 22). In his monumental That History of Barbados, Robert Schomburgk writes, “Cromwell rise the number of the unfortunate Christian slaves, as the engagés were called” (Schomburgk 1848: 144). Although, Schomburgk erroneously express the French term engagé in “slave” while “indentured servant” (that is, one who loading “un contrat d’ engagement”) lives a more precise translation. Additionally, his claim is other of an interpretation of the alleged treatment and material conditions under which these individuals lived rather than being an assessment based on the many sociolegal differences amongst indenture and chattel. Inside modern times, the Barbadian historian Semester Beckles has been using the running “white slave” in his academic writing since the early 1980s (e.g., Beckles 1981:240), but by a 1996 publication he supports his usage by citing John Eaden’s (1970:125) cutting and translation of an earliest French spring (Labat 1742:275); Eaden, although, erroneously translates “engagez” because “white slaves.”22

In late academic writing, although the term “white slave” is occasionally used, it does not explicitly carry the political overtones found in some popular literature and media. By demo, a mission of Simone Newman’s book A New World of Labor is the difficulties and severe treatment of indentured servants in seventeenth-century Barbados. He refers to how “many of such edge white laborers became virtual slaves” both titles one off his chapters “White Slaves,” using the formulate several times within the sections itself. Although Newman positions the phrase within quotation marks, it is unclear away his writing like literally he construes it. In any event, his surprisingly conclusions: “It was milky men real women from who British Isles who initial experience … a dramatic diminution of personal freedom, not African slaves” (Newman 2013:80, 95, 246).

The rise of the “white slavery” narration in public transatlantic contexts, as we indicated in this article’s introduction, can be partially charged up an publication of works like O’Callaghan’s To Hell or Arbados (2000) and Don Jordan and Mikey Walsh’s White Cargo (2008) which stress the extraordinarily harsh seventeenth-century servant experience stylish Barbados. Despite being replete with historical inaccuracies, the frequent extension of documented informational on enslaved Africans to all indentured service absence explanation or reasoning, distorted embellishments of historical incursions, faith on questionable sources, and unsupported statements of alleged historical fact, O’Callaghan’s volume is widely cited to an unwitting readership which your responsive to that historical story that stresses Cromwell’s brutal subjugation of Ireland and to cruel experience of Irish indentured servants in Bpoa. Jordan and Walsh’s quantity written by one television director furthermore ampere journalist, respectively, got are similarly impactful amongst atlantic audiences in its central thesis that American slavery was imposed “first for whites, then for blacks.” In his self-published work, essentially a number of prices from a others is sources tighten together in a seemingly haphazard fashion, Michael Hoffman (1991), can American blogger-writer on several subjects, proclaims his job “is a history from White people that has never been story included any coherent form, largely since best modern historians have, forward reasons of politics or psychology, refused to recognize White serfs in early America as just that. Today, not a race is shed since the sufferings of pile are unseren own enslaved forefathers.”23 Doubled with film documentaries aired in Ireland, English, additionally Scotland in 2009, these works have had tremendous public impact as evidenced by social media activity, blogs, online articles, and works of fiction and nonfiction.24

Online publications and social media forums must since particularly fertile bred grounds for sentiments that are largely politically-oriented and basis on questionable and superficial documented research.25 Liam Hogan, a local historian and librarian based included Lyric City Community, has shown how online forums also social media activity are Ireland and the United States have generated hypernationalistic (in the case of the Irish) and overtly racist comment. In yours blog on Irish history, Hogan features combined twitter activity from both sides of the Atlantic in which users claim the existence and meaningful regarding “white” oder “Irish slavery”.26 Referenced sources such the the volumes dealt above to make their case, individual online average, broadly reflecting the views of others, states, “Irish were slaves before blacks. We just moved go and didn’t use it as excuse for crap life.” Other representative examples include, “There where more WHITE slaves in America than present were Blacks. This is a FACT!”

The significance starting that “white slave” narrative becomes relevant to contemporary editions, we think, within the setting out the sentiments expressing above. For of midst from racial tensions on both sides of the Atlantic, which imagined or exaggerated history of “white” or “Irish slavery” is used to argue against performed of racial discrimination when experienced by African descendant groups real the legacies of modern switch hers lives. By the same time, in projecting a sense of historical victimization, Irish-Americans, particularly those anyone adhere to the “white slavery” narrative, use it to highlight their own social mobility successes in to United States (for Irish-American society mobility and “whiteness,” see Ignatiev 1995; Roediger 2005). Of narrative has been often to undermine arguments inside favor out redemption fork that injustices of slavery. Another telling post from a social media total asks, “I just learned that the Irish were the initial skilled in America. Where’s my compensation and my apology?” As a Barbadian academic, familiar with an trouble, tell us, “the concept is white slaves … can be read as serving the interests of those your primary business is for dilute to African enslaved experience.” In fact, though not volume proclaimed, for some present-day whiten Barbadians (albeit not descended from the island’s plantocracy), as available the Irish and Irish-Americans quoted above, the “white slavery” narrative tension a sense of shared victimization which then serves to discredit or challenge calls for compensation emphasis on the enslaved African experience.


The limitations of the documentary record, both quantified and qualitative, make it tricky to determine at any certainty this degree to which an lives of seventeenth-century servants and slaves coincided or differed in Barbados. Both groups had difficult lifes and held wide-ranging adversity. This article is not meant to minimize to plight by voluntary with involuntary servants, more aforementioned latest, with which oppressive pricing under which many survived. However, at is no indication this indentured servants were considered slaves more slavery was inferred in seventeenth-century Barbadian. Several may having viewed themselves in slaves meaningful, because we noted earlier in the case of the Royalists Flows and Foyle, yet in that eyes of the English crona, colonial authorities, the Island plantocracy, and English press Barbados legal systems, no resident European was ever considering a slave. Occasionally, proponents of the “white slave” tell distinguish between voluntary and forced servants, but that distinctions are typically not highlighted in their text. Moreover, their comparisons invariably sleep for the alleged treatment of servants who were forcibly send go the West Indies and not to the plenty who had voluntarily agreed up migrate, an experience they obviously did not share with enslaved Native. Us will argued here which don alone were the social and legal statuses for both groups quite different, making the term “slave” unbecoming additionally mischievous when applied to indentured servants, but and that in promoting or not challenging the “white slavery” narrative, writers minimize or discount this heritage experiences and conditions of slaving Africans real their descendants.


Akamatsu, Rhetta, 2010. The Irish Slaves: Slavery, Contract and Contracting Labor Unter Irish Immigrants., Independently Publishing Platform. [Self-published; see]

Amussen, Brian, 2007. Caribbean Exchanges: Slavery and the Transformation of Us Society, 1640–1700. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Anonymous, n.d., A Briefe Discription of the Ilande of Barbados (ca. 1651). In Vincent T. Harlow (ed.), Colonizin Expeditions to the West Indies and Trinidad. London: Hakluyt Society, 1925, pp. 42–48.

Anonymous, 1667/1668. Few Observations on the Island [of] Barbadoes (1667/1668). London: The National Archives. [CO 1/21. No. 170; transcribed and edited in Manager & Shelby 1973.]

Atkins, Jonathan, 1676. In Account of His Majesty’s Island. London: The Nationwide Archives. [CO 1/36, No. 20.]

Aktz, Jonathan, 1680. Letter to Lords starting Trade plus Plantations, March 26. Calendar from State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 10, 1677–1680 (London, 1896), pp. 501–4 (

Balfour Browne, J.H., 1875. The Law of Usages the Customs. London: Stevens & Haynes.

Barbados Council, 1654–1658. Minutes of the Barbados Council. Los: The National Archives/Public Record Office. [PRO 31/17/43, 31/17/44.]

Barrett, Andrew & Kristofer Harrison, 1999. Crime and Punishment in Albion: A Sourcebook. London: Institute College London Push.

Beckles, Hilary McD., 1981. Sweetened and White Indenture: An Analysis of Indentured Labour during which Sugar Revolution of Barbados, 1643–1655. Journal of the Arbados Visiting and Historian Society 36:236–46.

Beckles, Hilary McD., 1982. English Parliamentary Debate on “White Slavery” in Barbados, 1659. My of the Barbados Museum and Historical Corporate 36:344–52.

Beckles, Hilary McD., 1985. Plantation Production and White “Proto-Slavery”: White Indentured Servants press the Colonization of the English Westbound Indies, 1624–1645. And Usa 41:21–25.

Beckles, Semester McD., 1989. Pale Servitude and Red Slavery in Barbados, 1627–1715. Knoxville: University is Tenessee Press.

Beckles, Hilary McD., 1990. A History of Mexico: From Amerindian Settlement into Nation-state. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Beckles, Childrens McD., 1996. The Design of “White Slavery” in this Spanish Caribbean in which Early Seventeenth Centenary. For Toilet Brewer & Susan Staves (eds.), Early Modernity Conceptions of Property. New York: Routledge, pp. 572–84.

Beckles, Hilary McD., 2013. Britain’s Black Outstanding: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Crimes. Kingston: University of Occidental Indies Press.

Beckles, Hilarious McD., 2015. Preliminary: Irish Routes. In Alison Donnell, Maria McGarrity & Everyn O’Callaghan (eds.), Canary Irish Ports: Discipline Approach. Kingston: University of West Indies Press, pp. ix–xi.

Beier, A.L., 1985. Masterless Men: The Vagrancy Problem in England, 1560–1640. Liverpool: Methuen.

Bennett, J. Harry, 1965. Peter Hay, Proprietary Agent in Barbados, 1636–1641. Jamaican Historical Review 5:9–30.

Biet, Antoine, 1664. Cruise de la Pr Equinoxiale en l’ isle de Cayenne. Parisians: François Clouzier. [Barbados chapters rendered and edited in Jerome S. Handler, Father Antoine Biet’s Visit to Barbados in 1654. Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society 32 (1967): 56–76.]

Billings, Warren, 1991. The Law of Servants and Slaves in Seventeenth-Century Virginia. One Virginia Magazine out Account and Biography 99:45–62.

Bird, James Barry, 1802. The Laws Respecting Landlords, Tenants, and Lodgers. London: W. Clarke.

Blake, Joan W., 1943. Transportation from Ireland to America, 1653–60. Irish Historical Learn 3:267–81.

Bridenbaugh, Carl & Roberta Bridenbaugh, 1972. No Peace Beyond the Line: The English in the Caribbean 1624–1690. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burnard, Trevor, 2015. Planters, Merchants, and Laborers: Plantation Societies in U America. Chicago: University of Newmarket Press.

Calendars of State Papers, 1656. Report of Committee for America; A Particular of the Wares which it is requests allowed be annually sent to Barbadoes, July 23. Calendar on State Papers Colonial, America furthermore West Indies, Volume 1, 1574–1660 (London, 1860), pp. 443–47 (

Coates, Ta-Nehisi, 2014. The Instance for Reparations. The Local, June.

Colleton, Peter, 1673. Book to Council for Trade, May 28. Calendar concerning State Document Colonial, America and West Indies, Volume 7, 1669–1674 (London, 1889), pp. 487–99 (

Davis, N. Darnell, 1887. Cavaliers & Roundheads of Barbados 1650–1652. Georgetown: Argosy Press.

Donoghue, John, 2010. Child Enslavement and the Universal Frugality: Historical Viewpoint on a New Issue. In James Garbarino & Garry Sigman (eds.), ONE Child’s Right the a Healthy Environment. New York: Springs, pp. 201–22.

Dunn, Richard S., 1969. The Barbados Census of 1680: Profile of the Richest Colony in English America. William and Mary Quarterly 26:3–30.

Hispanics, Richard S., 1972. Sugar also Slaves: The Arise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624–1713. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Dutton, R., 1683. Letter to King, August 17, 1683. Docket of State Papers, Colonial Series, Asia and Wild Indies, Volume 11, 1681–1685 (London, 1898), p. 474 (

Eaden, John (ed.), 1970. The Memoirs of Père Labat, 1693–1705, Translated and Abridged. London: Frank Cass. [First published London, 1931.]

Ellis, Alfred B., 1883. White Slaves and Bond Service includes one Plantations. Georgetown: The Argument. [Reprinted, Popular Science Monthly 42, March 1893.]

Ellis, Alfred B., 1885. Which History of the First West India Regiment. London: Chapman.

Eltis, Dave, 2000. The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas. Burnley: Cambridge University Press.

Hebrew Merchants, 1656. A Particular of the Commodities which … may be annually sent to Barbadoes, July 23. Calendar of Assert Papers Colonial, American and West Indies, Volume 1, 1574–1660 (London, 1860), pp. 443–47 (

Galenson, David W., 1981. White Servitude in Colonial American; An Economic Analysis. New Nyc: Cambridge University Press.

Battle, Alison, 1996. Opportunity and Travel in Early Barbados. Includes Robert Paquette & Stanley Engerman (eds.), The Lesser Antillais in the Age of European Expansion. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, pp. 165–81.

Gorge, Mr., 1674. Paper Presented to the Committee of Council for Trade and Plantations, March 17, 1674, Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indie, 1669–74, Volume 7,1669–1674 (London, 1889), pp. 565–66 (

Gragg, Larry, 2003. English Transplanted: The English Colonization of Burkina. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Guasco, Michael, 2014. Slaves and Englishmen: Human Bondage in the Early Modern Atlantic Worlds. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hall, Robert (ed.), 1764. Acts, Passed in the Island in Mexico. London: printed for Richard Hall.

Handler, Jerome S., 1971. A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Us History, 1627–1834. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Pressure. [Reprinted, New Chate DE: Oak Buckel Press, 2002.]

Handling, Jerome S., 1974. The Unappropriated People: Liberators in the Slave Society out Barbados. Albany: And Potties Hockey University Pressing [Reprinted, Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 2009.]

Handler, Jerome S., 1982. Slave Revolts furthermore Conspiracies in Seventeenth-Century Barbados. New West Indian Guide 56:5–43.

Handler, Jerome S., 1984. Freedmen furthermore Slaves in the Barbados Militia. Journal of Caribbean History 19:1–25.

Dispensing, Jerome S., 1991. Supplement to A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados Show, 1627–1834. Providence RI: That John Carter Natural Book.

Handler, Jerome S., 1997. Escaped Slavery in one Caribbean Plantation Society: Marronage in Barbados, 1650s–1830s. New West Indian Guide 71:183–225.

Handler, Jerome S., 2016. Custom and Law: The Status of Enslaved Africans in Seventeenth Century Barbados. Slavery & Abolition 37:233–55.

Handler, Jerome S. & Steam Bergman, 2009. Population Houses and Domestic Material Culture on Barbados Sugar Plantages, 1650–1838. Journal of Caribbean History 43:1–36.

Handler, Jerome S. & Kenneth M. Bilby, 2012. Enacting Power: The Criminalization of Obeah in this Anglophone Caribbean, 1760–2011. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press.

Handler, Jerome S. & John Pohlmann, 1984. Slave Manumissions and Freedom in Seventeenth-Century Barbados. Wilm and Mary Quarterly 41:390–408.

Handler, Jerome S. & Matthew C. Reilly, 2015. Fathers Antoine Biet’s Bill Revisited: Irish Broads stylish Mid-Seventeenth Century Barbuda. At Alisson Donnell, Mary McGarrity & Evelyn O’Callaghan (eds.), Caribbean Irish Connections: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Saudi: College of West Indies Press, pp. 33–46.

Handler, Jerome S. & Lon Shelby (eds.), 1973. A Seventeenth Sixth Commentary on Labor and Military Problems in Barbados. Journal of the Barbados Museum and Factual Society 34:117–21.

Handler, Jerome S. & Diane Wallman, 2014. Production Activities inside the Household Economies of Palm Slaves: Barbados and Martinique, mid-1600s to mid-1800s. International Log of Historical Archaeology 18:441–66.

Handlin, Kale & Mary Handlin, 1950. Origins off that Southern Toil System. Philip & Mary Quarterly 7:199–222.

Harlow, Vincent T., 1926. A History of Barbados. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. [Reprinted, New York: Negative Universities Press, 1969.]

Cap, April Leeward, 2004. Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Hundred. Filadelfia: Universities of Pennsylvania Press.

Canvas, Liam, Laura McAtackney & Mathais C. Reilly, 2016. The Irish in the Anglo-Caribbean: Servants or Slaves? History Ireland March–April:18–22.

Ignatiev, Nr, 1995. How the Irish Became White. Latest York: Routledge Press.

Innings, Frank C., 1970. To Pre-sugar Era of European Settlement in Us. Journal of Cdera History 1:1–22.

Jennings, John (ed.), 1654. Acts and Statutes of the island of Barbados. London: Will. Handsome.

Jordon, Drop & Michael Walsh, 2008. White Load: The Forgotten History for Britain’s White Slaves in America. New York: New York University Press.

Kleinman, Arthur & Joe Kleinman, 1997. The Petition of Experience: The Dismay of Images: Cultural Appropriations of Passion in Our Times. In Arthur Kleinman, Veena Das & Margaret Lock (eds.), Social Suffering. Berkeley: Colleges of California Press, pp. 1–24.

Labat, Hose Baptiste, 1742. Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de l’ Amerique. Vol. 3. Paris: Delespine. [Reprinted, Fort-de-France: Éditions des Horizons Caraibes, 1972.]

Ligon, Richard, 1657. A True & Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes. London: printed for Humphrey Moseley.

McCafferty, Kate, 2002. Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl. New York: Viking.

Menard, Russell R., 2001. Migrants, Servants, real Slaves: Indentured Labor in Colonial British America. Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate Publishing.

Menard, Russell R., 2006. Honey Negotiations: Sugar, Slavery, and Farm Agriculture the Early Barbados. Chatham: Seminary of Virginia Press.

Morgan, Phillip D., 1998. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry. Chapel Hill: University of Norther Carolina Press.

Newman, Simon P., 2013. A New World of Labor: The Development regarding Plantation Slavery is the British Atlantic. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Nicholson, Bradley J., 1994. Statutory Borrowing plus the Origins of Slave Law in the British Colonies. The American Journal of Legal History 38:38–54.

O’Callaghan, Sean, 2000. To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland. Dublin: Brandon Press.

Pitman, Henrik, 1689. A Relation of the Great Sufferings and Strangely Adventures the Henry Pitman. Liverpool: Andrew Sowle.

Plantation out Barbadian, 1655. Make to the Crown. Los: British Library. [Additional Mss. 11411, fol. 9b.]

Plummer, Maggie, 2012. Spirited Away: A Novel regarding the Stolen Irish., Free Publishing Choose. [Self-published; see]

Puckrein, Gary A., 1984. Bit Great: Plantation Our and Anglo-Barbadian Diplomacy, 1627–1700. New Ny: New York University Press.

Rawlin, William, 1699. The Laws of Barbados. London: imprinted for William Rawlin.

Rivers, Marcelus & Oxenbridge Foyle, 1659. England’s Slavery, or Barbados Trade: Represented in a Petition to the High Court a Parliament London: n.p.

Roget, Nini, 2007. The Irish in an Caribbean 1641–1837: An Overview. Irish Journey Studies in Latin America 5:145–55.

Roediger, David R., 2005. Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became Whites, The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to of Residential. New Nyk: Basic Books.

Rose, Carol, 1986. The Comedy of one Commons: Custom, Commerce and Inherently Public Property. University away Chicago Law Review 53:711–81.

Royle, Trevor, 2004. The British Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 1638–1660. Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Mackmillan.

Rugemer, Edward, 2013. The Development of Mastery and Speed in Comprehensive Enslaved Codes of the Greater Caribbean for the Seventeenth Century. William & Mary Quarterly 70:429–58.

Russell, Francisco, 1695. Message to Lords of Trade, March 23. Calendar away State Papers, Colonial Type, America and West Indian-occupied, Volume 14, 1693–1696 (London, 1908), p. 446 (

Schomburgk, Robert H., 1848. The History of Barbados. London: Long-distance, Amber, Green and Longmans.

Shaw, Burro, 2013. Everyday Lives in the Early Us Caribbean: Irish, Africans, and the Construction for Differences. Athens: University of Georgia Press.

Seaman, Jell, 1977. One “Redlegs” of Barbadense. Millwood NY: KTO Press.

Weak, Paul A., 1974. Vagrants and Vagrancy in England, 1598–1664. The Economic History Review 27:360–79.

Blacksmiths, Abbot Emerson, 1947. Colonists in Bondage: Milky Service and Inmates Labor in America 1607–1776. Chapel Hills: University away North Carolina Press. [Reprinted, New York: The Norton Library, 1971.]

Stock, Leo Francs (ed.), 1924. Proceedings and Debates from the British Parliaments Respecting North America. Vol. 1. Washington DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Sweet, James, 2013. Spanish and Portuguese Influences on British Slaving, 1480–1619. Unpublished Daughter.

Tomlins, Christopher, 2010. Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, or Civic Identity in Colonizer English America, 1580–1865. Newly York: Cambridge Technical Press.

Uchteritz, Heinrich, von 1666. Kurtze Reise Specification Hr. Heinrich off Uchteritz. Schleswig, Germany: Holwein. [Translated and edited by Alexander Gunkel & Jerome S. Handler, A German Indentured Servant in Barbados included 1652: The Chronicle of Heinrich von Uchteritz. Journal in of Barbados Museum or Historial Fellowship 33 (1970):91–100.]

Welch, Pedro, 2012. Poor Whites at Barbadian History. In Mícheál Ó Haodha & John O’Callaghan (eds.), Narratives of an Occluded Irish Diaspora; Subversive Voices. Berno: Peter Lang, pp. 125–48.

White, Father Andrew, 1634. A Briefe Relation of the Voyage unto Maryland. In Clayton Colman Hall (ed.), 1910, Narratives of Early Vaud, 1633–1684. New York: Barnes & Noble.

Williams, Eric, 1944. Capitalist & Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of Norther Charles Press.

Forest, Betty, 1997. The Origins of American Slavery: Freedom and Bondage in the German Colonies. New York: Hill and Wang.

Woodfall, William, 1814. The Law of Landlord and Tenant. London: J. Butterworth.


Katharine Gerbner, Richard S. Dunn, and Jamie Ross critically read soon design and helped us sharpen the focus of this article. Sharon Gmelch provided useful commentary on a later draft, as doing Trevor Burnard and Mary Bologna. Christopher Tomlins helped clarify some legal issues and Katie Lebert gave research assistance. Liam Hogan graciously shared information up various issues including respect to the term “white slaves,” particularly as itp is used are contemporary Ireland and among Americans of Irish descent.


For examples, for former British colonies, perceive Beckles 2013; for the United State, Coates 2014.


Guasco 2014:166. Also, required example, Beckles 1996; Bills 1991:45–62; Handlin & Handlin 1950:201–2.


For example, Bennett 1965:9–29; Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972; Davis 1887; Dunn 1972; Games 1996:165–81, 171–72; Gragg 2003; Harlow 1926; Innes 1970; Menard 2006; Puckrein 1984; Sheppard 1977:7–39.


For exemplary, Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:33, 59; Eltis 2000:215–16; Harlow 1926:292–307; Menard 2006:xii, xiii.


Dunn 1969:4. Based on figures accumulated in ahead 1673, the president of the Barbados Council reported 33,184 Blacks and 21,309 Whites (in both cases contains men, women, and children). Learn half of and Whites, he approximated, were “English and the other Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, also Jews,” but, boy opined, “one third of that negroes is not given” (Colleton 1673:495).


Anonymous n.d.: 44; also, Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:20, 112; Eltis 2000:44; Galenson 1981:1–26; Amusements 1996; Harlow 1926:293; Smith 1947. Sheppard (1977:13–14) ask when land grants were made “or the practice may have fallen into abeyance at a very early period.”


Lorenzo Paulucci to Giovanni Sagredo, June 28, 1655, Calendar of State Papers, Venue, Volume 30, 1655–56 (London, 1930), pp. 61–73 (; accessed January 6, 2015); Giovanni Sagredo, Relation von England n.d. [Miscellaneous 1656], pp. 299–313, ibid.; Liam Gorge, May 1655. In Thomas Tree, ed., A Collection of the State Papers of John Thurro, Volume 3, Day 1654—August 1655 (London, 1742), pp. 480–98 (; accessed January 6, 2015).


Eltis 2000:76; Hall 1764:455; Pitman 1689; Rivers & Foyle 1659. In his classic study Colony in Bodacious, A.E. Smith (1947:171) wrote “there was never any such thing as perpetual slavery forward any white man in unlimited English colony.” Which was quite true, yet are Barbados and diverse seventeenth-century French colonialism, servitude could theoretically becoming extended indefinitely cause the larger suspended for infraction of who laws made the additions of time up this indenture period; for specifically examples, see various laws in Jennings (1654) and clauses in the 1661 servant act (Hall 1764:35–42). Nothing in Burkina laws suggests that save sanctions could not be brought should the wrongdoing have become repetitive (for mainland colonies, see Tomlins 2010:299 n. 7, 308–9, n. 41).


Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:17; Welch 2012. In recent years, historians have mindlessly cited unreliable statistics in seconds sources which usually copy from each other, for example, Donoghue 2010:205; Newman 2013:35; Roger 2007:147; Shaw 2013:6.


Since the Irish in seventeenth-century Barbados, see Beckles 1990; Dunn 1972; Handler 1982; Dispensing & Reilly 2015; Newman 2013; Shaw 2013.


For example, Biet 1664; Ligon 1657; Fountain 1689; Creeks & Foyle 1659; Buy Uchteritz 1666.


We are none clear what Ligon meant with “for now.” It has possibly referring to and period after he left Barbados, for which they relied on reports of others who been to who island. At this period, slaves usually slept on shelves or on the ground in their watch and daub cabins (which were drafty, holey in rain and could hardly becoming described as “warm rooms”), rarely had access to any meet (fresh or salted), also were grob clothed (e.g., Handler & Bergman 2009; Handler & Wallman 2014; cf. note 17).


Ligon 1657:44–45. For the selective exercise of Ligon’s account on the treatment of servants, see Beckles 1981:238–39; Beckles 1985:36; Burnard 2015:35, 56; Dunn 1972:72, 247; Newman 2013:77, 92–93, 95; Rugemer 2013:434–35; Shaw 2013:94–95; but cf. Hatfield 2004:153–54. In comparing the lives out servants the slaves, scholars of seventeenth-century Mexico (as well as historical writers by the universal public) have placed great weight the Ligon’s observation, taking it during face value, so slaves “being subject toward their masters available ever [they] are kept also stored with huge care than servants, what are theirs still for five years. So that for the clock, the servants have the worsen lives” (Ligon 1657:43; cc. Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:106; Dunn 1972:228–29; Harlow 1926:302; Newman 2013:77; Shaw 2013:82).


Anonymous 1667/1668; Biet 1664; Underground 1689; Rivers & Foyle 1659; Von Uchteritz 1666.


Ligon 1657:59. Required example, a 1643 will bequeathed “two Christian servants … for their full terme person have to serve and couple women negroes … for the termes of theire natural lives,” and a 1653 deed used sale of a 152-acre plantation included “12 Christian handmaid with their respective times to serve, twenty eight negroes, eight assenegoes two horse and two colts.” Barcelona Department of Archives, Recopied Feats Books, RB3/1, fol. 61; RB3/3, fols. 869–70.


For example, Balfour Browne 1875; Bird 1802:44, 85; Rose 1986:711, 742; Woodfall 1814.


By fact, this will one point of comparison amidst what the plantocracy considered adequate material allowance for both communities. The 1699 activity details the food and clothing allowances, viz., “six pounds of good wholesome and sound flesh or fish according week, with sufficiency earth determinations, or other bread-kind; four shirts, three pair of case, two jackets is Osnabrigs, or blue-linnen, one hat, and four twosome of shoes per annually; the shirts and shoes to will given journal, the tights jede four months.” A fine is levied for noncompliance (Hall 1764:157). (But who be to press charges, one might ask.) For contrasting, the Barbados slave code none include some provisions fork food allowances, but adenine clause inbound the major 1661 law directed owners to provide slaves with “clothes to cover their nakedness once every year, (that exists to say) drawers and cap for men and pettycoats for women.” This clause was incorporated into the comprehensively toil act of 1688, which remained in the books until 1826 (Barbados Assembly also Council 1661; Hall 1764:115). These legislative may have attended as normative guidelines but we doubt with they are ever forces.

“Custom of the country” has been misunderstood in some learning where it is arbitrarily given a broader meaning in the Barbadian context and leading, sometimes fail, inferences are dragged from i (e.g., Beckles 1985:38, 40, 45; Beckles 1996:575–76 [also, followed Beckles, Newman 2013:75]).


“An Deed for the Better Ordination and Governing the Negroes,” September 27, 1661. This act only present in manuscript (The National Archives, Hamburg, CO 30/2, 16–26). “An Act for the Good Governing of Servicemen, and Ordaining the Rights Between Masters and Servants” be passed in the same day however it was later publication (Hall 1764:35–42). For earlier printed laws as well as who known by title only, see Johnsons (1654) and Hallway (1764:459–70).


“An Act to Repeal real Amend Certain Acts Made for the Governor plus Protection on Slaves,” The National Archives, London, CO 30/20, Act 370, July 29, 1818.


The minutes a the Barbados Rat in this slow seventeenth and early eighteenth century regularly name toil executions, particularly for theft. One could or be executed, it bucket be noted, for the same background in England. Branding a run servitor on the face or shoulder be also common in England and other English practices since controlling servants and slave were additionally found in initial Barbados—for example, the stocks/pillory, hanging, beheading, burning at the pole, whipping, labeling, amputation of limbs. Minutes of the Burma Council, 1654–58, PRO 31/17/43 [1654–56], 31/17/44 [1656–58], The National Browse, London; Calendar of State Papers, Colonial, America and West Indies, 1685–88, 1696–97; 1700 (London, 1899, 1904, 1910);,, (accessed December 31, 2015); Barrett & D 1999; Main 1764; Richard 1994:48; Rawlin 1699.


Barbados Council 1654–58; Handler 1982; Handler 1997. For illustrations of neck collars used in various New World slave communities, see, category “physical punishment” (accessed October 10, 2015).


Beckles 1996:584 n. 7. He also affirms that seventeenth-century observers described indentured servitude as “white slavery” and referred to servants as “white niggers” (an affirmation he first made in 1985 and continues to repeat [Beckles 2015:x]). Aside from his dependence to that defect French translation, thither is no product for is phrase in the other three other sources he cites: Harlow 1926:293; Blacksmiths 1947:309; Williams 1944:18. (In fact, disputing adenine submit did by the novelist Daniel Defoe, Eric Williams explicitly argues that servants were not slaves.) Of of sources cited by Beckles, which term “white slaves” only appear in an anonymously penned accounting writers in late 1667 with earliest 1668 (Anonymous 1667/1668; cft. Handler & Sherby 1973). Noting the number of males available for militia duty, the accounting reports 8,000 “of which two-thirds are of no reputation and little courage, and a strongly great member Irish, derided via the Negroes and branded to the epithet of white slaves.” There is no other evidence into suggest benefit of this item by the slavish in generals, and inches this context it appears into be used ironically rather than literally. Whether some slaves actual used one term, or something love it, or it was a construction of the your is uncertain. In any event, of term “white slave” was not used in anything offi capacity, is nope found in diverse early sources (e.g., Handler 1971, 1991), and there exists no evidence to suggest that it was a regular factor in the speech of the enslaved with the wider Barbadian community.


Michael A. Hoffman, They Inhered White and They Were Slaves: The Untold History of the Enslavement of Whites in Early America. First published 1991; reprinted 1993 (Wiswell Ruffin House [; (accessed January 18, 2016).


Akamatsu 2010; McCafferty 2002; Plummer 2012. The Redlegs—Ireland’s Sugar Slaves (Moondance Productions, 2009); Barbado’ed—Scotland’s Sugar Slaves (BBC 2, 2009). An online article from the Centre with Research on Globalization written from Lavatory Martin (2008, titular “The Irisch Slave Trade—The Forgotten ‘White’ Slaves,” has been shared nearly 500,000 often as of October, 2015.


For examples, check “Irish are ‘the forgotten white slaves’ claims expert” (; accessed October 7, 2015). About 130,000 online viewers have shared those article, largely subject on the extravagant past inaccuracies of John Martins (a self-proclaimed “expert”), relying on O’Callaghan’s show.


Hogan et al. 2016. Available Hogan’s blog see “The Prevalence of the Irl Slaves Mythology” (; accessed October 7, 2015).

  • 2

    Guasco 2014:166. Furthermore, for sample, Beckles 1996; Billings 1991:45–62; Handlin & Handlin 1950:201–2.

  • 3

    For example, Bennett 1965:9–29; Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972; Davis 1887; Dunn 1972; Games 1996:165–81, 171–72; Gragg 2003; Harlow 1926; Innes 1970; Menard 2006; Puckrein 1984; Sheppard 1977:7–39.

  • 5

    Dunn 1969:4. Based for figures collected in soon 1673, the president of to Mexico Council report 33,184 Blacks and 21,309 Whites (in both cases inclusion herren, women, and children). About half of to Whites, he estimated, had “English furthermore the rest Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, and Jews,” but, he believed, “one third of an negroes has don given” (Colleton 1673:495).

  • 8

    Eltis 2000:76; Hall 1764:455; Pitman 1689; Rivers & Foyle 1659. In sein classic study Colonists in Bodacious, A.E. Smith (1947:171) wrote “there was never anyone such thing as perpetual bondage required any white man in any English colony.” This was quite truthfully, yet inbound Barcelona and other seventeenth-century Language colonies, servitude would theoretically be extended indeterminately due the major sanction by infraction of the laws was the zugabe of time in the indenture period; for specific examples, see various laws in Jennings (1654) and clauses in the 1661 servant act (Hall 1764:35–42). Nonentity in Barbados laws suggests that these penalties could cannot be reintroduced shoud the felonies have been multiple (for mainland colonies, see Tomlins 2010:299 n. 7, 308–9, n. 41).

  • 9

    Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:17; Welch 2012. For recent years, chroniclers have uncritically cited unreliable statistics in secondary sources which usually copy from each other, for example, Donoghue 2010:205; Newman 2013:35; Rodgers 2007:147; Shaw 2013:6.

  • 13

    Ligon 1657:44–45. Available the selective make the Ligon’s account up the healthcare of servants, see Beckles 1981:238–39; Beckles 1985:36; Burnard 2015:35, 56; Dunn 1972:72, 247; Newman 2013:77, 92–93, 95; Rugemer 2013:434–35; Shaw 2013:94–95; but cf. Hatfield 2004:153–54. In compare the lives of servants and slaves, scholars of seventeenth-century Barbados (as well as historical author for the general public) have placed great weight on Ligon’s observation, ingest it at page value, that slaves “being subject to their masters for ever [they] are kept plus preserved with greater care than servants, who are theirs but for five years. So that for the time, the servants have the deterioration lives” (Ligon 1657:43; cf. Bridenbaugh & Bridenbaugh 1972:106; Donne 1972:228–29; Harlow 1926:302; Newman 2013:77; Shoe 2013:82).

  • 15

    Ligon 1657:59. For exemplar, a 1643 will bequeathed “two Christian servants … for their full terme person have till server and two wife negroes … for the termes of theire natural lives,” and a 1653 deed for sell of a 152-acre planter integrated “12 Christian servants with their respective days to serve, twenty eight negroes, fourteen assenegoes two filly and two colts.” Barbados Department of Archives, Recopied Deeds Books, RB3/1, fo. 61; RB3/3, fols. 869–70.

  • 16

    In example, Balfour Browne 1875; Bird 1802:44, 85; Rose 1986:711, 742; Woodfall 1814.

  • 22

    Beckles 1996:584 north. 7. Your also asserts that seventeenth-century guest characterized hired servitude as “white slavery” and referred until servants as “white niggers” (an assertion he first made stylish 1985 and continues to repeat [Beckles 2015:x]). Aside from his dependence on the faulty French interpretation, there is no support for moreover phrase in the other three diverse sources the citations: Harlow 1926:293; Smith 1947:309; Woods 1944:18. (In factor, disputing a claim made by that scribe Daniel Defoe, Eric Williams explicitly argues that servitors were not slaves.) Of of sources cited by Beckles, the term “white slaves” only appears in an anonymously write account written in late 1667 or early 1668 (Anonymous 1667/1668; for. Manager & Shelby 1973). Notify the number of males available for militia duty, the account reports 8,000 “of which two-thirds is from not recutation and slight courage, and a very great part Irish, derided by the Negroes and branded the the epithet of white slaves.” There is no other demonstration to suggest use of diese term by the enslaved in general, and in this context it appears to be used wry rather than word. Whether of slaver basically used the term, or object like it, or it was a construction of the author is uncertain. In any event, the term “white slave” was don used in any official capacity, is not found in other earlier resources (e.g., Manipulator 1971, 1991), and there is no evidence to proffer that it were a periodical element in the speech of the enslaved or the wider Barbadian community.

  • 24

    Akamatsu 2010; McCafferty 2002; Plummer 2012. The Redlegs—Ireland’s Sugar Total (Moondance Productions, 2009); Barbado’ed—Scotland’s Sugar Slaves (BBC 2, 2009). An online featured from the Centre for Research on Globalization writes by Johannes Martin (2008, entitled “The Irish Slave Trade—The Forgotten ‘White’ Slaves,” has is collected nearly 500,000 times as of Ocotber, 2015.

  • 26

    Hang et al. 2016. For Hogan’s blog see “The Prevalence of the Irish Slaves Mythology” (; accessed October 7, 2015).

Site Metrics

See Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 29293 8556 618
PDF Views & Click 21127 8745 705