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The profits of slavery: Bishop of Durham - Durham Cathedral

Updated Tuesday 17th October 2006

Even the Church of England was directly involved in the slave trade.

Thomas Thurlow Creative commons image Icon Wellcome Collection under CC-BY-NC licence under Creative-Commons license
Thomas Thurlow depicted in a contemporary cartoon, showing his doctor taking blood but becoming distracted by a sick horse.

Thomas Thurlow, Bishop of Durham was directly associated with the slave trade and as such was one of the Bishops who sat on the Society for the Propagation of The Gospel Abroad, which owned a plantation on Codrington Estate in Barbados. The mortality rate among slaves on this plantation was unusually high. 40% within three years of arrival died and they were branded with the word "society" using a red hot iron. The Church continued to own the plantation until 1833 and several clergymen were compensated when the slave trade was finally abolished.

Map of Northern England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University

Hands on History - Primary Sources

The local records office in Oxford was used to find the information of the Church's involvement with the slave trade. Philippa found the plantation accounts, a list of the slaves held on the plantations and also a letter which describes the state of life in the plantation.

 

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