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London and the transatlantic slave trade

The Elizabethan slave trade
17th-century expansion
18th-century peak
The horror of the slave trade
The rights of Africans in Britain
The abolition campaigns
Final balance sheet
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Slave in chains
View full size imageSlave in chains. © NMM
London played a central role in Britain's involvement in the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans. Because London was Britain’s major port, ships owned by London merchants dominated the trade during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Later, London's position was challenged by Bristol and then Liverpool. 

The City of London provided the money for many slaving voyages and other London institutions insured cargoes and traded plantation goods. 

London also became the focus of the long abolition campaign. This eventually outlawed the British slave trade and slavery within the British Empire.


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Find out more
Atlantic Worlds
A gallery exploring the relationships between Britain, Africa and the Americas, 1600-1850
Hot spotOnline slavery trail
Discover the slavery trail through Maritime Greenwich
TrailPrintable slavery trail
Print and take the slavery trail through Maritime Greenwich
The Bristol slave trade
Explore the Portcities Bristol site
The Liverpool slave trade
Explore the Portcities Liverpool site
Fact fileIgnatius Sancho
A freed slave and talented composer and poet
Fact fileOlaudah Equiano
The slave who bought his freedom and fought the slave trade
Fact fileMabruki “Cupid”
A freed East African slave who served with the Royal Navy and in the merchant marine
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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