The Western Australian Legacies of British Slavery project, in collaboration with the National Centre for Biography, presents a series of online seminars around the theme of Writing Slavery into Australian History.
The celebration of British abolition has overshadowed memories of the country’s long prior history as the world’s leading slave-trading nation. In August 1833 British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Caribbean, Mauritius and the Cape. In place of slavery the negotiated settlement established a system of apprenticeship and granted £20 million in compensation, to be paid by British taxpayers to the former slave-owners. The end of British slavery took place around fifty years after the establishment of Britain’s settler colonies, commencing in New South Wales in 1788 – however, their overlapping and interrelated histories have not been satisfactorily explored. In this talk I review the Western Australian Legacies of British slavery project, which aims to trace the movement of people, goods, capital, and practices from the Caribbean to WA by applying a biographical method. Following the experience of the Ridley and Walcott families exemplifies some of these patterns of movement.