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Jim2000

Sheffield and the Slave Trade: Black Lives Matter

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Jim2000

Just putting it out there...

Thomas Staniforth, from Darnall (bapt Sheffield 24 Apr 1735) moved to Liverpool as merchant and trader, and became their Lord Mayor 1797. He and his son Samuel (also becoming Lord Mayor) were slave-traders.

The Sheffield family lines of Staniforth included many prominent figures.

Thomas’s sister Elizabeth was married to John Trevers Younge, Sheffield merchant & maker of gilt buttons (reputed to have worked with Boulsover). They acted as guardians for the young Thomas and his siblings.

Thomas’s younger sister Mary married Dr Thomas Younge of Sheffield (brother of John Trevers Younge).

Dr William Younge, son of Dr Thomas Younge, was therefore nephew of Thomas the slave-trader, and served as First Physician to the Sheffield Infirmary (opened 1797, and connected too with Dr William Staniforth, from another branch of the family).

In the 1830s local working-class poet Mary Hutton recounted the career of Dr William Younge, and the Infirmary where he served over 3 decades:

 

Through the long course of years thou didst preside

O'er yonder mansion of fair charity,

Where the sick poor are heal'd benevolently...

 

A shame that "fair charity" was not always applied by previous generations....

Mary Younge, sister of Dr Thomas and John Trevers, married William Asline and their son was Thomas Asline Ward (1781-1871). So two of Ward’s uncles were the direct in-laws of Thomas Staniforth the slave trader. Ward was Master Cutler in 1816, ran for parliament (1831), was a magistrate and Sheffield Telegraph editor 1823-29. His half-brother was Samuel Broomhead Ward, of Mount Pleasant, Sharrow Lane (also a Master Cutler).

There were benefactors of old Sheffield town, business types, clergy, physicians etc in the family. 

Not saying that some of the ‘great and good’ of Victorian Sheffield endorsed the trade in African slaves indulged in by their ancestors (many prominent people in the family were regarded as progressives: eg TA Ward) but there were clearly vast amounts of (blood)money ‘earned’ by the trade and it likely got passed down to many of these figures (Thomas Staniforth’s will left money to his Sheffield relatives).

Would be good to stimulate debate and contributions from others with more to share. Pretty sure there must be many other local links to the more shameful aspects of history. 

 

Sources - Rosamund Du Cane: ‘Sicklesmiths & Spear Carriers’ (history of the Staniforths and allied families), Joseph Hunter: ‘Hallamshire’; RE Leader, ‘Reminiscences of Sheffield’.

 

(PS: ‘slave trade’ often referred to as ‘the African Trade’ when searching old records; probably felt more ‘comfortable’ that way?)

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tozzin

Whether right or wrong we can’t change history, what’s past is past, people seem to forget about the African and Arab slave traders who took part in the terrible trade.

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MartinR

"African Trade" may be descriptive rather than apologetic.  Until the late C17 there was the Barbary slave trade in which around a million (estimates vary significantly) people from the Atlantic seaboard of Europe (Spain, France, UK) and America were seized.  The Barbary slave trade continued into the late C18 and remained a problem for shipping into the C19.  Please don't attempt to take this as a justification, but it may help to understand better what people at the time were meaning.

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lysandernovo

My understanding is that a 17/18th C European sailing down the coast of West Africa would have been spotted as soon as his ship came over the horizon and that very few of them ever ventured inland into "darkest Africa"...preferring to deal with established markets! My understanding is also that  Africans were enslaved by other Africans as well as by Arab slave traders.They were traded for goods from the European trader,who shipped the slaves across the Atlantic where they were sold to plantation owners and sugar cane ( amongst others) shipped back to Europe to be sold at an enormous profit, The "triangle of trade" as it was known..

This is not, in any way, intended as a defence of the horrendous trade but slavery is as old as "hills" and the English  had virtual slavery  at the same time as the "triangle", when very young children were sent down the mines  into the pitch black darkness for long hours without so much as a light...hence the expression " not worth a candle". There are countless other examples of such treatment in Working Class history and it shouldn't  be forgotten that we sent  thousands of convicts to the Americas and Australia for life...where they were traded to settlers as slaves.

My own ancestor was one such! I He was shipped off in 1832 after what today would have been considered as a minor crime and never saw his wife ,child or family ever again. He died of influenza in a Sydney Workhous some 30 years later. I am the g.....g grandson of a white slave in OZ...but I don't protest about the brutality he was subjected to! As compensation I am told I am now considered( by some)to be "Australian Royalty"!!!

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tozzin
41 minutes ago, lysandernovo said:

My understanding is that a 17/18th C European sailing down the coast of West Africa would have been spotted as soon as his ship came over the horizon and that very few of them ever ventured inland into "darkest Africa"...preferring to deal with established markets! My understanding is also that  Africans were enslaved by other Africans as well as by Arab slave traders.They were traded for goods from the European trader,who shipped the slaves across the Atlantic where they were sold to plantation owners and sugar cane ( amongst others) shipped back to Europe to be sold at an enormous profit, The "triangle of trade" as it was known..

This is not, in any way, intended as a defence of the horrendous trade but slavery is as old as "hills" and the English  had virtual slavery  at the same time as the "triangle", when very young children were sent down the mines  into the pitch black darkness for long hours without so much as a light...hence the expression " not worth a candle". There are countless other examples of such treatment in Working Class history and it shouldn't  be forgotten that we sent  thousands of convicts to the Americas and Australia for life...where they were traded to settlers as slaves.

My own ancestor was one such! I He was shipped off in 1832 after what today would have been considered as a minor crime and never saw his wife ,child or family ever again. He died of influenza in a Sydney Workhous some 30 years later. I am the g.....g grandson of a white slave in OZ...but I don't protest about the brutality he was subjected to! As compensation I am told I am now considered( by some)to be "Australian Royalty"!!!

This I can relate to, I can’t recall any of the relatives of the deportees demonstrating or rioting in the streets, I know that many of the deportees were probably not given fair trials and circumstances forced them to do what they did but they knew the risks. It was wrong not to repatriate them after serving their terms. 
For wanting the governments or individuals to apologise for something they had nothing to do with is quite incredulous, it’s like expecting the queen to say sorry for what the royals did in history and give back all the land they stole. Slavery was a despicable trade carried on in a despicable way in despicable time but you cannot turn the clock back and wanting people to say sorry now just isn’t on who had nothing to do with it is just not on.

Theres a video going round that does put a new light on the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Jim2000

Not, by any means, trying to downplay the injustices of transportation or class-based exploitation, but the slave-trade stuff seems to be relatively under-reported in conventional history. Wondering if it’s because, instead of being someone else’s problem to sort out, the racial issues force everyone to confront their own role in what’s going on?

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tozzin

I'm ending my posts on this subject as my interests are only about the history of Sheffield not the recent events.

 

 

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Jim2000

Thomas Staniforth, slave trader.

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Born 1735, attended Mrs Marshall’s Academy in Sheffield, and later Heath School (Wakefield). John Trevers Younge, his brother-in-law, got him apprenticed to an ‘old family friend’ - Charles Goore, merchant of Liverpool (of the ‘Golden Lion’ ship). Goore had built up a shipping empire in ‘oil, whales, seals, ivory, iron and slaves’, and Staniforth, marrying Goore’s daughter, inherited the business: trafficking some 7000 slaves in the 1770s alone.

 

John Trevers Younge’s wedding: Christmas Day in Attercliffe. Perhaps Goore, his old family friend, was a guest?

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Sources - Rosamund Du Cane, Ibid.

See also https://library.oxfordarchaeology.com/273/1/L10203_StThomasChurchFullReportF.pdf

 

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Jim2000

Others in Sheffield, in keeping with its radical history, provided some balance...

Joseph Gales, radical editor of the Sheffield Register, published the ‘Life of Olaudah Equiano’ (a freed slave and campaigner), announced in his paper 20 Aug 1790. A week later Equiano himself was in Sheffield - as a speaker, meeting with pro-abolition supporters.

Equiano (also known as Gustavos Vasso)

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Gales encouraged locals to attend, then took to task London newspapers for their offensive use of language: 

The most pitiful thing we have lately seen, appeared in the London papers of last week, in the form of a petition from the “[perjorative simian terms] and other next of kin to the African Negroes,” attempting to prove them of the same  species; and under the appearance of admiration, ridiculing the favourers of the abolition. 

Surely this unfortunate race is sufficiently degraded by being the objects of an iniquitous traffic, without being in every degree levelled with the beasts that perish.

With a little alteration, what Shakespeare says of a Jew may, with great propriety, be applied to the sable race - “Hath not an African eyes, hands, organs and dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt by the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as an European?” - Can this be denied? and yet there are people who are weak or base enough to affect disbelief. 

Should any within the circle of our readers doubt the truth of this comparison, let them see GUSTAVUS VASA, the free African, now in Sheffield - his manners polished, his mind enlightened, and in every respect on a par with Europeans.

                     (27 August 1790 - Sheffield Register)

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Jim2000

546A6961-B76C-4F17-9543-9ABB466DFF01.jpeg

 

By 1825 there was an active Sheffield Female Anti-Slavery Society and local working-class poet Mary Hutton allied herself to the cause of abolition.

In ‘The Slave’ (1831) her character reminisces over his upbringing ‘on Niger’s fertile shore’:

Ah! Then our souls were pure and free,

Unconscious of those crimes

That since we’ve found so balefully,

Disgrace all Christian climes.

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lysandernovo

When we have finished "censuring" the actions of our ancestors ( well, a very few of them, actually) over something that happened many years ago ...in a totally  different time...  a time with different moral values and mores , perhaps we might remind ourselves that slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833 and that an anti-slavery movement had been established in this country as far back as 1772. Indeed, the Governor General of Upper Canada ( Simcoe) abolished slavery there in 1783....fifty years before the "Mother" country...and as a nation we were amongst the first so to do!

Living in an age of  burgeoining capitalism slaves were considered as a "business asset" and compensation paid to their owners,  by the UK Government, when freed in the Colonies..... that the money they received was then re-invested in other business ventures is hardly surprising considering they were capitalist entrepreneurs....so why are they now being held to account centuries after the event???

Sheffield's trades produced such items as.machetes and  sugar cane knives all of which were exported to the Colonies for use by slaves. Should  we feel guilty? Should the whole of Lancashire now lie prostrate on the ground for its part in the cotton trade....a crop intensively cultivated by slaves ( some white convicts as well before the American rebellion) or should we remember the near slave-like conditions under which mill workers and their children eaked out a living .??

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Jim2000

What’s surprising to me is how some individuals were highly active campaigners - at significant risk to themselves - despite living “in a totally different time” with “different moral values and mores”. Presumably the feeling that they didn’t want to look back later and think  “I didn’t try to stop this happening” was just as relevant then as it is now.....

 

e.g. Winifred Marshall, who was to marry Joseph Gales. Her learned political analyses were published in his papers, she faced multiple threats and was arrested by the authorities when Joseph had to flee the country (1794). His sisters Anne, Elizabeth and Sarah Gales were anti-slavery campaigners, boycotting slave-trade sugar from the early 1790s.

There was an emphasis on women leading much of the campaign locally, and some dissenting religious groups, like the Unitarians in Sheffield (rather than the Church of England, which had considerable interests in slave plantations and the ‘trade’)  - were prominent in the cause too. Sheffielders’ ingrained resistance to orthodox church and state came to the fore!

Interesting about the sugar-cane knives. The Staniforth family in Hackenthorpe were associated with sickle-making, and it’s hard to imagine them missing out on the opportunity to trade more sickles for stripping cane!

 

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History dude

What these people of long ago left us with was endemic racism. This can still be seen in Sheffield of today. Even where we all live. With parts of the city housing only "black" people. I remember doing a survey sometime ago in the education in several areas of the City. One of which covered Burngreave. And it showed that highly qualified Afro-Caribbean workers were in less skilled jobs and lower paid ones than white workers having the same qualifications. I doubt for one minute that if similar surveys were done today that workers of colour would now be in better paid jobs. 

The slave trade goes deep, it's even in our music. The slave traders would give the "blacks" marijuana to calm them down. And Cocaine was given to make them work harder. Both of these drugs would then be used by choice by the slaves to make them cope with racism to either cheers them up or relax them. Needless to say this has had a MASSIVE effect on music. With songs like the original slow version of Hound Dog being a marijuana influenced version and the more well known white version being Cocaine or amphetamine based (Elvis got speed from the army). Even "Rock & Roll" was the black slang for sex!

This use of these drugs being passed on to descendants of the slave trade. And of course leading to them being arrested by a largely "white" police force, which as we all know was set up to protect property not people! 

It's very unlikely that statues and monuments to people were done at the request of the vast majority of people. In Sheffield most of them were put up by people with money and power to reflect on themselves and their friends. Even the naming of streets after council people or others is evidence of this. I predict that someone in the future will question the naming of  "Derek Dooley Way". For some reason or other!

So we have to be careful on what the community of Sheffield wants to endorse. Of course to destroy them would be wrong. They are heritage, but they might need to be seen only in a museum, not on general public display.        

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tozzin
On 20/06/2020 at 14:29, lysandernovo said:

When we have finished "censuring" the actions of our ancestors ( well, a very few of them, actually) over something that happened many years ago ...in a totally  different time...  a time with different moral values and mores , perhaps we might remind ourselves that slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833 and that an anti-slavery movement had been established in this country as far back as 1772. Indeed, the Governor General of Upper Canada ( Simcoe) abolished slavery there in 1783....fifty years before the "Mother" country...and as a nation we were amongst the first so to do!

Living in an age of  burgeoining capitalism slaves were considered as a "business asset" and compensation paid to their owners,  by the UK Government, when freed in the Colonies..... that the money they received was then re-invested in other business ventures is hardly surprising considering they were capitalist entrepreneurs....so why are they now being held to account centuries after the event???

Sheffield's trades produced such items as.machetes and  sugar cane knives all of which were exported to the Colonies for use by slaves. Should  we feel guilty? Should the whole of Lancashire now lie prostrate on the ground for its part in the cotton trade....a crop intensively cultivated by slaves ( some white convicts as well before the American rebellion) or should we remember the near slave-like conditions under which mill workers and their children eaked out a living .??

Well said, what’s past is past.

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lysandernovo

Just for the record....I worked for a number of years as a community worker in Burngreave and knew many of the city's Rastafarians as well as their addiction to the "weed" ... something for which they found Biblical approval!. I was also married to a lady who came from an ethnic minority....she was Mohawk...not many of them in these parts. In her work life she was accused of being a racist by some, who had no idea of her ethnicity. Her "crime".?...She spoke the truth, as she saw it.

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History dude

Lysandernovo you didn't know a community worker called Tony Tingle while at Burngreave? He did work there for a time there. The reason I asked is that he also worked on the Manor with me on the Manor Mercury.

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lysandernovo

The name sounds familiar but , in all honesty, I can't say I remember him....although I knew a community worker on the Manor. He and I studied part-time at the Poly for a degree in Social Studies..

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History dude
2 hours ago, lysandernovo said:

The name sounds familiar but , in all honesty, I can't say I remember him....although I knew a community worker on the Manor. He and I studied part-time at the Poly for a degree in Social Studies..

Tony for a time was the Trade Union rep at F&CS Darnall. This would have been in the 80's. If your community worker friend from the Manor was working in the 80's there I would have known him.

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lysandernovo

Yes, I knew the worker in the early 80s. The bloke I knew was very "political"! It might well be the same person.

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natonstan

Anyone interested in the Darnall Staniforths, I've transcribed the 1860 publication Staniforthiana, which documents Thomas of Darnall, and later Liverpool:

http://staniforthfamily.com/Staniforthiana.html

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duckweed

I have picked up in my studies another person involved in the slave trade who lived in Sheffield and became rich from it and that was Edward Bennet, who lived in Coal Pit Lane and who built a sugar refinery. His sugar  came from Liverpool, but he is also listed as an investor in a slaving ship along with Thomas Staniforth. His became a preacher and built a Chapel at the same time he was importing sugar from Liverpool. His father was an early Methodist and friends with Whitefield one of the leading abolitionists. So one wonders what the conversations were like in their family. When Edward died his estate went to George Bennet who became a clergyman, a missionary and an abolitionist and was a founder member of the Sunday school movement in 1813 together with James Montgomery. It is said that George Bennet was a big influence on Mary Ann Rawson, of Attercliffe and Wincobank.    

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lysandernovo

I wonder, did anyone read an article by a young Nigerian journalist the other week? She admitted that one of her ancestors had been very active in the slave trade...as were many other Africans who made money out of it and that slavery was a long established part of many of their cultures.She pleaded that times were very different in those days. Perhaps we should just admit that a great wrong was done and that the blame lay with our forefathers... but, out of the suffering, a multi-cultural Britain eventually began to be established...no matter how imperfectly and that it should be all of our aims to make it work, fairly and justly.

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duckweed

History is there to be learned from. Several million men, women, and children were abducted, killed tortured and raped in order to build Empires. To be able to escape from the obvious immorality, people have been taught that African people and others from colonies are not the same as us. Black women still have problems getting medical help because doctors have been taught that Black women feel pain differently. So it lives on. The lesson from the obscenity that was slavery is how easy it was for ordinary people to be comfortable and accepting about the unacceptable whether it be UK, USA, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Spain or Australia to name but a few. Till Racism is gone we cannot move on. 

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Jim2000
10 hours ago, duckweed said:

I have picked up in my studies another person involved in the slave trade who lived in Sheffield and became rich from it and that was Edward Bennet, who lived in Coal Pit Lane and who built a sugar refinery. His sugar  came from Liverpool, but he is also listed as an investor in a slaving ship along with Thomas Staniforth. His became a preacher and built a Chapel at the same time he was importing sugar from Liverpool. His father was an early Methodist and friends with Whitefield one of the leading abolitionists. So one wonders what the conversations were like in their family. When Edward died his estate went to George Bennet who became a clergyman, a missionary and an abolitionist and was a founder member of the Sunday school movement in 1813 together with James Montgomery. It is said that George Bennet was a big influence on Mary Ann Rawson, of Attercliffe and Wincobank.    

I didn’t know about him, thanks for contributing. I read somewhere that sugar coming in via eastern ports (such as Hull) in early days was less likely to be linked to the slave trade because it came from other sources (eg sugar beet from the ‘Poland’ area), but I expect it wasn’t really as cut & dried as that (excuse the pun!)

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lysandernovo

I know a few doctors  socially and in wide ranging discussions  I have never heard any suggestion that they have been taught that black people feel pain differently!.

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