Parliament and the British Slave Trade: Key dates

1641

Petition sent to the House of Lords to recover costs involved in a business venture in the West Indies

1643

Earliest document found in the Parliamentary Archives relating to Africa is laid before the House of Lords

1671

A Bill to incorporate the Royal Africa Company receives its first reading in the House of Lords

1681

The Lord Great Chamberlain issues a certificate granting permission to make coffee near the Court of Wards in the Palace of Westminster

1698

The monopoly of the Royal Africa Company is ended and opened
up to private traders

Copper miners send a petition to the House of Lords against the Trade with Africa Bill, which proposes regulations they believe will damage the industry

1713

An account of sales of enslaved Africans is presented to the House of Lords

1729

Ignatius Sancho is born

1745

Olaudah Equiano is born

1756-63

Britain gains Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago during the Seven Years War

1759

William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, is born

1760

Thomas Clarkson, the abolitionist is born

1771

The Somerset case is heard by Lord Mansfield in Westminster Hall, who rules that the enslaved African in question cannot be forced to go back to the Americas, now he is in England

1773

Ignatius Sancho buys a shop at 19 Charles Street, Westminster

1781

The Zong case, when the owners of a British slave ship sought compensation for the loss of cargo, when over a hundred enslaved Africans were thrown overboard

1786

William Wilberforce buys the lease of a house in Old Palace Yard, Westminster

1787

Thomas Clarkson begins his campaign to abolish the slave trade

1788

William Pitt, the Prime Minister, states his intention in the Commons to raise the issue of the slave trade. Sir William Dolben introduces his Bill to regulate the trade.

1789

Publication of Olaudah Equiano's autobiography

Report of the Privy Council committee enquiry into the slave trade is presented to both Houses. William Wilberforce makes his case for abolition in a speech to the Commons

1791

James Towne, a carpenter on slave ships, gives evidence to a House of Commons Select Committee on the slave trade

1806

More than 2,000 people in Manchester sign a petition in favour of the Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill

1807

The Act to abolish the British slave trade receives Royal Assent

1833

An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies is passed by Parliament

Historic Hansard

Read House of Commons Historic Hansard for debates from 1803-2005

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