Hidden Stories, Slavery and Barnsley

Triangular Trade - Part 3

The documents show that goods from the Americas were bought with the profits from selling slaves. Goods could include items such as cotton, sugar, mahogany, rice and indigo. The slaves meanwhile would have been taken to plantations in America and put to work in the fields growing crops. They would have been given a new name and treated brutally in order to keep them working for the rest of their lives for the plantation owner.

The ship owned by Benjamin Spencer was in the harbour at Charleston, America by February 1756, ready for the journey back to London where it had originally started. It was loaded with 58 barrels and 26 half barrels of rice and 3 casks of indigo. The ship had a different captain and crew by this time and it is not clear what happened to the original crew but the harsh conditions onboard may hint at the fate of some of them.

The ship returned to Britain where the goods were sold for a profit which would have gone to Benjamin Spencer. It is not possible to work out Spencer’s actual profit from this journey although the indications are that he did not make the amount he expected and he died in debt aged just 33. For Spencer this investment was very much a side-line for him but there were certainly large sums of money to be made by many from the slave trade.

The goods that were brought back from slave-owning plantations were bought by people in the upper class and growing middle class sections of society in many houses and towns throughout the country. Only later as the abolition movement grew did some people in Britain stop buying some of these goods.

What would it have been like to be a slave working on a plantation?

What might have happened to the sailors who started the journey?

How did different types of people make money from the slave trade?

See where Charleston harbour is in America.»

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