Slave Trade (1762/1812) by John Raphael Smith, George MorlandRijksmuseum
The 'Guinea' Trade
With over 11 million Africans shipped to the Americas the transatlantic slave trade remains the largest forced migration in human history. Known as the 'Guinea' trade, through the lens of Manx traders in Peel we reveal the Island's slaving ties.
From Douglas Head (19th century) by Lucy Emma LynamManx National Heritage
Isle of Man's strategic advantage
From the first importation of 'Guinea goods' into the island in 1718 through to the Revestment Act in 1765, the Isle of Man, with its duty-free ports, was fundamental to the slave trade during the 18th century.
1777 edition of Isle of Man map publication 1695Manx National Heritage
'Three legs' of the slave trade
Between 1742-53, half the ships leaving Liverpool called in at Manx ports to collect goods. The final leg of the transatlantic slave trade also profited the island. Ships returned with rum, sugar and coffee from the West Indies or Virginia bought from the selling of slaves.
Old Bonded Warehouse cellar, Peel by Stephen MooreManx National Heritage
Goods from the New World
These were stored in cellars like this with rum decanted into small casks to await the Manx or Irish boats. Scottish merchants warehoused rum in Peel as well as Douglas, the former being more convenient for smuggling to southern and western Scotland.
Sir George Moore by W.H. WarburtonManx National Heritage
George Moore (1709-87), Manx slave trader
Much of what we know about the island's role in the slave trade comes from the archive of George Moore, merchant and Manx politician. He smuggled goods into the island with his brother Philip. As a prolific letter writer, it is clear he had 'Guinea' contacts in Liverpool.
George Moore's town house was located in Crown Street, Peel. He lived with his wife Catherine and 6 children. The house was reputed to be the finest in Peel. The Moores were just one of a closely-knit network of powerful families who dominated island business and politics.
Petition to enlarge Peel HarbourManx National Heritage
George attempted to politically influence the slave trade. He campaigned (in vain) for the enlargement of Peel harbour to allow more room for the 'commodious' Guinea vessels.
Peel 'extremely convenient'
George’s letter to the Duke of Atholl in 1759 describes Peel as 'extremely convenient to the North Channel through which is found a convenient passage in time of war to America and Africa for the Liverpool, Lancaster and Whitehaven ships.'
Peel Mathematical School by Matthew, HannahManx National Heritage
Mathematical School, Castle Street
The Mathematical School in Castle Street was founded in 1763 by Rev James Moore, brother of George. The school was erected to teach navigation for 'bringing forward a young man intended for the sea.'
Mathematical School Pupil RegisterManx National Heritage
George Cannon (1766-1811) slave captain
12-year-old George Cannon served on the Rawlinson, sailing from Liverpool to Jamaica. He returned to the island in 1781 as a scholar of the Peel Mathematical School for two years. He left as a ship's carpenter, but returned a 'Guinea Captain'.
Proclamation of the terms of the Act of Revestment (18th century) by unknownManx National Heritage
Impact of Revestment
Following Revestment in 1765 the Island was no longer a free port for trade and many merchants left the island. Over 60 Manx captains commanded vessels throughout the slave trade. After 1765 many Manx mariners went to work on English slave ships.
LIFE Photo Collection
Cannon’s voyage, 1798
Cannon left Liverpool on 8 June 1798. 452 slaves were bought in the Bight of Biafra (Nigeria) and in the Gulf of Guinea islands. The Iris arrived in Jamaica with 414 slaves on 4 November 1798 and returned to Liverpool on 12 April 1799.
James Brown, reformer, journalist and founder of the Isle of Man Times (1815-1881) (19th century) by Joseph William SwynnertonManx National Heritage
James Brown (1815-1881)
The later 18th century witnessed a growing belief in the liberty of the individual. A few decades later, James Brown, grandson of a freed American slave, came to the island and became editor of the Isle of Man Times and campaigned for the popular vote.
Am I Not a Man and a Brother? (c. 1837) by AmericanThe Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Modern slavery is defined (by the charity Anti-Slavery) as 'the severe exploitation of other people for personal or commercial gain'. Modern slavery is all around us, but often just out of sight. Find out more about modern slavery by going to One World Centre Isle of Man
One World Centre Logo by One World CentreManx National Heritage