Monday, March 16, 2015


They came as slaves: human cargo transported on British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the
hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. Some were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But are we talking about African slavery? King James VI and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James VI sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.

By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.

Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia.

Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (£50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than £5 Sterling). If a planter whipped, branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce.

Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish mothers, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their children and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls (many as young as 12) with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves.

This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more, in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is also little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end its participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded this chapter of Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong. Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

But, why is it so seldom discussed? Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims not merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be the one that their English masters intended: To completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

Interesting historical note: the last person killed at the Salem Witch Trials was Ann Glover. She and her husband had been shipped to Barbados as a slave in the 1650's. Her husband was killed there for refusing to renounce catholicism.

In the 1680's she was working as a housekeeper in Salem. After some of the children she was caring for got sick she was accused of being a witch.

At the trial they demanded she say the Lord's Prayer. She did so, but in Gaelic, because she didn't know English. She was then hung.  

To learn more you can go to the following sources:

Political Education Committee (PEC)
                  American Ireland Education Foundation
                    54 South Liberty Drive, Suite 401
                         Stony Point  NY  10980

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Aubrey Gwynn, S.J., Documents relating to Irish in the West
Indies -- Analecta Hibernica
     Page:     153
     Note:     1
Edward O'Meagher Condon, The Irish Race in America, New York,
A.E. and R.E. Ford, 1887
     Page:     15        41        38,9
     Note:     3         21        37
Arthur Percoval Newton, The European Nations in the West Indies
1493-1688, London, J. Dickens & Co, Reprint 1967
     Page:     163
     Note:     4
Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves, Chapel Hill, NC, U of NC
Press, 1972
     Page:     56, 122, 130   ?    133  160 
     Note:     5              13    24    25
     Page:     327  ?    131  141
     Note:     29   30   32   34
Maurice Lenihan, History of Limerick, Cork, Mercier, ?
     Page:     668,9    669
     Note:     6        26
John P. Prendergast, The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland,
Dublin, ?, 1865
     Note:     9    17
Sir William Petty, Political Anatomy of Ireland, London, ?, 1719 
     Page:     19
     Note:     7
John Thurloe, Letter of Henry Cromwell, 4th Thurloe's State
Papers, London, 1742
      Note:     8
Thomas Addis Emmet, Ireland Under English Rule, NY & London,
Putnam, 1903
     Page:     101, vol I 101, vol I    211,2
     Note:     12           19           28
Joseph J. Williams, Whence the "Black Irish" of Jamaica, NY,
     Page:     17        17
     Note:     10        11
Anthony Broudine, Propuguaculum, Pragae Anno, 1669
     Note:     18
Dr. John Lingard, History of England, Edinburgh, ? ,1902
     Page:     336, vol X
     Note:     20
Abbot E. Smith, Colonists in Bondage, 1607-1776, Glouster, Mass,
Smith, 1965
     Page:     164  165  334  209  336
     Note:     2    16   23   27   36
C. S. S. Higham, The Development of the Leeward Islands Under the
Restoration, 1660-1688, London,
     Cambridge, 1921
     Page:     4         47
     Note:     14        22
Richard Ligon, A True and Exact History of Barbadoes, London,
Cass, 1657, reprinted 1976
     Page:     44
     Note:     31
Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro, 1492-1969, New York,
Harper and Roe, 1971
     Page:     101
     Note:     15
Wesley Frank Craven, The Colonies in Transition, 1660-1713, New
York, Harper and Roe, 1968
     Page:     55        58

     Note:     33        35


  1. I never knew, but will never forget

  2. I never knee all of this thank you for posting it.

  3. Thank you for this story. My grandmother's family came from England little can be found. This could be how they got here. Touching story for all of us.

  4. A fascinating bit of history, I would love to read more on the subject.

  5. as an Irish woman I appreciate knowing some of the history of my ancestors. It is heartbreaking to think that after all of the suffering our ancestors went through it's not mentioned in one single history book that I've ever read or taught in any classes.

    1. You're right, I had never heard this before and I am 58 yrs old. That's totally ridiculous they haven't been mentioned or honored for a very desperate life.

    2. You are exactly right. Why weren't we taught this in school or even college. Disrepect all over again. I apologize your family was affected. I don't know my heritage except that my grandfathers family came from England, but he was born in the states. That's about all I know.

    3. You're right, I had never heard this before and I am 58 yrs old. That's totally ridiculous they haven't been mentioned or honored for a very desperate life.

    4. The ans is one word: Protestantism!

      A good review of African Slavery

    6. I am also of Irish descent & always grew up being proud of my heritage. I didn't learn any of these facts until I took a history class in college. I wanted to crawl under the table when I first heard it. Now, Nve come to surmise that it's not necessarily taught because the Irish moved on & by not dwelling on past atrocities, we've been able to raise our status in the world. Wouldn't it be awesome if all races were just proud & focused on the bright future & not the dark past?

    7. I knew about this because my great great grandmother and her brother were "indentured servants" and the history was past down from my grandfather to me. I like to tell African Americans that chant racism about it when they say poor me for something that never happened to them personally.

  6. The cruelty human beings can visit on each other is boundless....God help us.

  7. thank you for sharing. quite the eye opener - shocking!

  8. my great great grandmother was an "indentured servant" from Ireland. I also want to mention Asian and native american slavers; and it still happens in other parts of the world too -

  9. I'm Irish and I never knew any of this am glad you posted this Thank you.

  10. Omg this is so awful. I also am of Irish heritage.

  11. I was totally unaware about the Irish Slaves, didn't find it anywhere.
    Thank you very much this piece of very important history.

  12. Wow it suprises me that the irish were despised so much throughout history england cant beat us if you ask me england needs to free occupied ireland and issue a public apology to all those with irish anscestry for their treatment and atrocities they commited against us over the centries. Side note is we kept fighting and overcoming like the proud irish that we are and in closing i want to say for such a small island there sure are alot of us .

    1. May God have mercy on those responsible ..and may the rest of us learn to honor those who were here before us and fought for us all to have a better life.

  13. We should allow the Irish to have an "Irish History Month" or a "white history month",but then I'm called racist ? Whats up with that,for asking for equal rights,we should never forget what's been done to us the Irish,so history doesn't repeat itself,and to teach our history to our own people and the world

  14. It's sad this happened however let's take a look at St. Patrick's day, The real sad story of the black tribe in Ireland that the Irish were killing off to rid the world of these Snake head ppl. That was one of the names the Irish called them.

    1. Actually, the snakes were Pagans who did not conform to Christianity, regardless of their color.

  15. It's sad this happened however let's take a look at St. Patrick's day, The real sad story of the black tribe in Ireland that the Irish were killing off to rid the world of these Snake head ppl. That was one of the names the Irish called them.

    1. "Snake head people" that sounds a bit like Reptilians to me. You don't know the whole story of what was going on and that's probably why England hates the Irish because maybe they knew something we don't.

    2. So you're saying that because a group of Irish killed off a "the black tribe in Ireland" that this means we shouldn't mention them as part of the slave trade? What the hundreds of thousands of people involved in this went through means nothing because of one event which had absolutely nothing to do with slavery and was actually determined to be religiously motivated?
      Ok, so if that's true does that mean that the African slave trade should be ignored because of the politically motivated genocide in Rwanda?
      The answer is no by the way. Neither of the other events mentioned, the Rwonda genocide or the tribe killed by "St. Patrick" have anything to do with the suffering these people, both black and white, endured. To try and lessen this suffering because of wrongs committed by the same race or nationality of people in unrelated events is a logical fallacy.

  16. So sad, but true. Prior to the birth of Christ, the Irish were enslaved by the Vikings. It is believed that is where the Irish got the red hair and blue or green eyes. No wonder we're now known to be a bit feisty at times.

    1. Viking raids didn't start until the 9th Century. Still only a thousand years out.

  17. So awful! I have a Help Wanted sign from 1905 in Boston stating
    No Irish Need Apply"
    We need to be able to talk about this without having to feel like we're being politically incorrect to Africans and African Americans

    1. Exactly! So tired of all the self pity. You don't see Irish people crying and wanting more and more as nothing is ever gonna satiate African/Americans.

  18. only the tip of the iceberg as slavery is concerned throughout history... go back further and you will find that many nationalities and races experienced slavery.

    1. precisely, e.g. Pharaohs throughout centuries.

  19. I have often wondered how my ancestors felt white privileges.

  20. Never knew thnx for posting this !!

  21. What were the numbers of Irish slaves vs. the number of African slaves ?

  22. Incredible! Have to investigate this story. I have never heard of this before.

  23. the signs in Boston read,"no dogs or Irish allowed".

  24. Shocking and disgusting, whether Irish or African. But doesn't slavery persist even nowadays with children and girls being sold into the flesh trade? Young girls sold into marriage and what not. So what is the solution?

    1. People to start standing up to the elite/rich as they are the ones buying these girls/children being sold into sex slavery. The thought of all the "missing" children boys and girls that could be a sex slave somewhere in the world is sickening. And people should stand up and start fighting back. Btw...the elite run all the governments etc so to fight one would prob be to fight them all (military included) but if all of the billions of people would stand together and stop worrying bout their mundane 9-5 lives. After all if it were their child who came up missing wouldn't they be pissed. Wouldn't they want to know where their child is? Or do they not care as people don't care as long as it doesn't affect them. They believe anything they are told!

  25. I have two Irish great-great grandfathers from Ireand, tough they did come over here like this but in 1800s. Bt I knew of this, as wen I interviewed about Shirley Plantation ib Charles City, Virginia for a chapter in my Virginia's Haunted Historical Triangle, that they had white slaves at the beginning as much if not more than African slaves. And if everyone could go back in their ancestry, we all had a salve as an ancestor. Just people do know think this. I do not think anyone of us escaped that.

  26. The word slave comes from Slav. The Ottomans enslaved central and eastern European Slavs.
    Eventually, north American slave owners found it easier to use Africans because there weren't able to blend into the white population is they escaped.

  27. My Irish ancestors came here in the mid sixteen hundreds. They quickly broke the chains but only to be enslaved again now by a tyrannical government. So who is really free and aren't we all just slaves to the banksters?

  28. My parents are Irish and we've never heard of this. However this may add something to the disciussion

  29. The reason most of the commenters here were never taught this in school is because none of it is true. It's a recently invented history that's been shared many times on the internet, but has been thoroughly debunked by legitimate historians. Even the bibliography sources mentioned here are totally bogus.

  30. It's not a competition of sorrow or a race to the bottom. There is no need to compare the tragedy of the Irish slave trade to the African slave trade to make your points. I would welcome a Irish history month. The triumph in the story is how Irish and Black survivors have persevered through their horrific beginnings.

  31. I read about this before. This is evil beyond. All who use people in this manner will burn in hell

  32. I never knew this nor shall I ever forget!!!! Explains a lot.

  33. From an Irish news website, the MYTH of Irish Slavery:

    Be a little skeptical, people!

  34. Now my ancestors came from Ireland and I am not out asking for welfare, payment for years of enslavement, Irish lives matter or any of the other hogwash going around this country for years. I would not change one thing. As a matter of fact what do your think about the Irish situation now? WHO rules Ireland? Right, the British.

  35. send this to al sharptons FB site

  36. And the blacks / niggas want repartation. For what ? They are only looking for another hand out.

  37. I had a couple of ancestors transported to the colonies. They were both English and ended up as indentured slaves. The poor and powerless are the ones who ended up that way.

  38. Sorry, not true.

  39. To all you yankees out there shouting about trump being this and that ,well from where i`m watching (scotland) trump is nothing but a bigot ,racist,war monegerer,and now were being told he was a kiddie fiddler way back in his early days and you`s are about to let that filth sit in your white house ,it`l be a brothel by the time that peice of shit leaves it ,and btw he`ll start a war thats for certain ,hes an animal .

  40. I want restitution for all my ancestors....blahblahblah

  41. There is an element of truth to the story you reference here but your exaggerations undermine it.
    The vast majority of Irish Slaves were sent to the West Indies (Jamaica, Barbados and Montserat). The Irish were not the only white slaves either. Many English and Scottish people were transported to Barbados as well.
    Other English colonies (Virginia) at the time operated with a system of indenture where people worked as quasi-slaves for a period of time (10 years, 20 years) after which they were released.
    When the slave trade from Africa opened up with traders bringing slaves out and tobacco or sugar cane back to England, Irish slaves were less in demand. Africans were stronger and were considered more docile.
    On some islands of the Caribbean, the white slaves were promoted to be overseers of the Black slaves and, as human nature often shows, were far from sympathetic to their charges but treated them with the same cruelty they had experienced. In one slave rebellion in Barbados which was jointly plotted by white Irish/Scots and black slaves, the whites made a secret deal with the plantation owners and in exchange for their own privileges allowed the full retribution to fall on the African slaves.
    It was no surprise then that the descendants of such white slaves became increasingly isolated in Barbados, especially when the majority black population gained power after independence. On YouTube you can find interviews made by the Radharc programme in the 1970s with the "Red Legs" of the North Western parishes of Barbados. The Irish names and accents are still quite clear.
    To say that the Irish slave experience was "worse" than the African one is at best petty.
    When the vast majority of Irish came to America after 1850, slavery was already being abolished in many states (Louisiana) and it was cheaper for plantations to employ the Irish as indentured servants on a 10 year term than to keep slaves that they were legally bound to house and nourish to their dying day.
    History is generally a lot more complex than "We were always the victims".

  42. This is common knowledge among Irish families.

  43. I'm Irish American and I have known about this. My Mother's family were 'indentured' so to speak and arrived in the late 1600's. Reading about them sounded like slavery to me. They were brought to Virginia and North Carolina. My mother also has family from the West Indies. My Irish father's family arrived in 1863 during the Civil War. This is so heart breaking and also fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

  44. It's disheartening to know that this wasn't taught in school. Why is the history we are taught incomplete