The Irish White Slave Trade and it’s impact on the Irish psyche

images4

White Irish Slaves were beaten in the Barbados for minor infringements as punishment 1600s

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat (70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves at this time). From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and over 300,000 were sold as slaves.

Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were forcibly taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. Another 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia while 30,000 Irish men were sold to the highest bidder.

In 1656, Oliver Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers. African slaves were very expensive (50 Sterling), had to be transported long distances and paid for not only in Africa but in the New World. Irish slaves were cheap (no more than 5 Sterling) and most often were either kidnapped from Ireland, prisoners or forcibly removed. They could be worked to death, whipped or branded without it being a crime. Many, many times they were beat to death and while the death of an Irish slave was a monetary setback, it was far cheaper than the death of an expensive African. Therefore, African slaves were treated much better in Colonial America.

The importation of Irish slaves continued well into the eighteenth century, long after the importation of African slaves became the norm. Records state that after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. Irish slavery didn’t end until Britain decided to end slavery in 1839 and stopped transporting slaves.

The enactment of 1652 in the British Isles: “it may be lawful for two or more justices of the peace within any county, city or town, corporate belonging to the commonwealth to from time to time by warrant cause to be apprehended, seized on and detained all and every person or persons that shall be found begging and vagrant.. in any town, parish or place to be conveyed into the Port of London, or unto any other port from where such person or persons may be shipped into a foreign colonies or plantation.”

The judges of Edinburgh Scotland during the years 1662-1665 ordered the enslavement and shipment to the colonies a large number of rogues and others who made life unpleasant for the British upper class. [B](Register for the Privy Council of Scotland, third series, vol. 1, p 181, vol. 2, p 101).

White slaves were owned by Negroes and Indians to such an extent in the South that the Virginia Assembly passed a law against the practice! “It is enacted that no negro or Indian though baptised and enjoyed their owner freedom shall be capable of any such purchase of Christians…” Christians meant Whites Statutes of the Virginia Assembly, Vol. 2, pp. 280-81) Oscar Handlin says that “Through the first three-quarters of the 17th century, the Negroes, even in the South, were not numerous…

They came into a society in which a large part of the White population was to some degree unfree… The Negroes lack of freedom was not unusual. These Black newcomers, like so many others, were accepted, bought and held, as kinds of servants.” He goes on to say that the desire for cheap labour caused the elite merchants and landowners to enslave not only the negroes but their own White kindred as well Blacks were much more expensive than Whites, Therefore, Whites were mistreated more often than blacks.

During the Colonial period, Whites did the harder work, such as digging ditches, clearing land, and felling trees. The frontier demands for this kind of heavy manual labour was satisfied primarily by White slaves As late as 1669 those who had large scale plantations were manning them with White slaves, not negroes. That’s the way it was done in the mother country, Great Britain!

In 1670 the Governor of Virginia said that he had 2000 Negro and 6000 White slaves. Hundreds of thousands of Whites in colonial America were owned outright by their masters and died in slavery. Even the blacks knew this. If they were made to work too hard they accused their masters of “treating them like the Irish slaves.

Some years ago, Prime Minister Paul Keating of Australia refused to show “proper respect” to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit. In response, Terry Dicks, a Conservative member of the British Parliament said, “It’s a country of ex-convicts, so we should not be surprised by the rudeness of their prime minister.”

A slur such as this would be considered unthinkable if it were uttered against any other class or race of people except the descendants of White slavery. Dicks’ remark is not only offensive, it is ignorant and false. Most of Australia’s “convicts” were shipped into servitude for such “crimes” as stealing seven yards of lace, cutting trees on an aristocrat’s estate or poaching sheep to feed a starving family.

The arrogant disregard for the holocaust visited upon the poor and working class Whites of Britain by the aristocracy continues in our time because the history of that epoch has been almost completely extirpated from our collective memory. When White servitude is acknowledged as having existed in America, it is almost always termed as temporary “indentured servitude” or part of the convict trade, which, after the Revolution of 1776, centred on Australia instead of America.

The “convicts” transported to America under the 1723 Waltham Act, perhaps numbered 100,000. The indentured servants who served a tidy little period of 4 to 7 years polishing the master’s silver and china and then taking their place in colonial high society, were a minuscule fraction of the great unsung hundreds of thousands of White slaves who were worked to death in this country from the early l7th century onward. Up to one-half of all the arrivals in the American colonies were Whites slaves and they were America’s first slaves.

These Whites were slaves for life, long before Blacks ever were. This slavery was even hereditary. White children born to White slaves were enslaved too. Whites were auctioned on the block with children sold and separated from their parents and wives sold and separated from their husbands. Free Black property owners strutted the streets of northern and southern American cities while White slaves were worked to death in the sugar mills of Barbados and Jamaica and the plantations of Virginia.

The Establishment has created the misnomer of “indentured servitude” to explain away and minimise the fact of White slavery. But bound Whites in early America called themselves slaves. Nine-tenths of the White slavery in America was conducted without indentures of any kind but according to the so-called “custom of the country,” as it was known, which was lifetime slavery administered by the White slave merchants themselves. In George Sandys laws for Virginia, Whites were enslaved “forever.”

The men tossing the bales somewhat recklessly into the hold were Negroes, the men in the hold were Irish. Olmsted inquired about this to a shipworker. “Oh,” said the worker, “the niggers are worth too much to be risked here; if the Paddies are knocked overboard or get their backs broke, nobody loses anything.” Before British slavers traveled to Africa’s western coast to buy Black slaves from African chieftains, they sold their own White working class kindred (“the surplus poor” as they were known) from the streets and towns of England, into slavery. Tens of thousands of these White slaves were kidnapped, children. In fact, the very origin of the word kidnapped is kid-nabbed, the stealing of White children for enslavement.

Part 2 The Irish Slaves Irish Slavery by James F. Cavanaugh

There are a great many K. Cavanaugh’s in North America who trace their ancestry back to a Charles Cavanaugh, who arrived in Barbados in the first place.

The answer takes us down a revolting path wandering through one of the most insensitive and savage episodes in history, where the greed and avarice of the English monarchy systematically planned the genocide of the Irish, for commercial profit, and executed a continuing campaign to destroy all traces of Irish social, cultural and religious being. As the topic was politically sensitive, little has been written about this attempted genocide of the Irish, and what has been written has been camouflaged because it is an ugly and painfully brutal story. But the story should be told.

Transportation and Banishment

If Queen Elizabeth I had lived in the 20th Century. she would have been viewed with the same horror as Hitler and Stalin.

Her policy of Irish genocide was pursued with such evil zest it boggles the mind of modern men. But Elizabeth was only setting the stage for the, even more, savage program that was to follow her, directed specifically to exterminate the Irish. James II and Charles I continued Elizabeth’s campaign, but Cromwell almost perfected it. Few people in modern so-called “civilised history” can match the horrors of Cromwell in Ireland.

It is amazing what one man can do to his fellow man under the banner that God sanctions his actions! n the 12 year period during and following the Confederation revolt, from 1641 to 1652, over 550,000 Irish were killed by the English and 300,000 were sold as slaves, as the Irish population of Ireland fell from 1,466,000 to 616,000. Banished soldiers were not allowed to take their wives and children with them, and naturally, the same for those sold as slaves. The result was a growing population of homeless women and children, who being a public nuisance, were likewise rounded up and sold. But the worse was yet to come.

Irish Slaves on Barbados Sugar Plantation On 14 August 1652, Cromwell began his Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland, ordering that the Irish were to be transported overseas, starting with 12,000 Irish prisoners sold to Barbados. The infamous “Connaught or Hell” proclamation was issued on 1 May 1654, where all Irish were ordered to be removed from their lands and relocated west of the Shannon or be transported to the West Indies.

Those who have been to County Clare, a land of barren rock will understand what an impossible position such an order placed the Irish. A local sheep owner claimed that Clare had the tallest sheep in the world, standing some 7 feet at the withers because, in order to live, there was so little food, they had to graze at 40 miles per hour. With no place to go and stay alive, the Irish were slow to respond. This was an embarrassing problem as Cromwell had financed his Irish expeditions through business investors, who were promised Irish estates as dividends, and his soldiers were promised freehold land in exchange for their services.

To speed up the relocation process, a reinforcing law was passed on 26 June 1657 stating: “Those who fail to transplant themselves into Connaught or Co Clare within six months… Shall be attained of high treason… are to be sent into America or some other parts beyond the seas… those banished who return are to suffer the pains of death as felons by virtue of this act, without the benefit of Clergy.” Although it was not a crime to kill any Irish, and soldiers were encouraged to do so, the slave trade proved too profitable to kill off the source of the product. Few people today realise that from 1600 to 1699, far more Irish were sold as slaves than Africans. It is interesting to note that from 1680 to 1688, the Royal African Company sent 249 shiploads of slaves to the Indies and American Colonies, with a cargo of 60,000 Irish and Africans. More than 14,000 died during the passage. Following the Battle of the Boyne and the defeat of King James in 1691, the Irish slave trade had an overloaded inventory, and the slavers were making great profits. The Spanish slavers were a competition nuisance, so in 1713, the Treaty of Assiento was signed in which Spain granted England exclusive rights to the slave trade, and England agreed to supply Spanish colonies 4800 slaves a year for 30 years. England shipped tens of thousands of Irish prisoners after the 1798 Irish Rebellion to be sold as slaves in the Colonies and Australia. Curiously, of all the Irish shipped out as slaves, not one is known to have returned to Ireland to tell their tales.

All this was before the genocide of the Great famine of 1845 in which the Potato Blight ravaged the potato crop in Ireland and Irish farmers were forced to sell their grain which could have kept them alive to Landlords, the British in exorbitant rent and they therefore starved or died on Coffin ships trying to emigrate to America.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s