Shocking 18th-century adverts appealing for return of runaways reveals ...

The harrowing tales of black slaves who were whipped and branded in 18th century Britain have been unveiled for the first time - from newspaper adverts.

They are revealed in a new digital database of runaways that escaped from cruel merchants who grew rich on their labour.

Scientists have uncovered more than 800 advertisements placed by masters and owners in English and Scottish newspapers between 1700 and 1780. 

The adverts give an insight into those enslaved people who lived and died in the UK hundreds of years ago.

As the British empire grew, the numbers arriving in Britain surged, arriving from Africa and the Caribbean, ans settling in the main ports at the time, London, Liverpool and Bristol.

The injuries mentioned in the brief ads above make clear how often slaves - which included men, women and children - were beaten in captivity

The injuries mentioned in the brief ads above make clear how often slaves - which included men, women and children - were beaten in captivity

The adverts lift the lid on this relatively unknown details of British history, as they offered rewards to anyone who captured and returned the fugitives - often identified by scars from their thrashings.

The injuries mentioned in the brief ads make clear how often slaves - which included men, women and children - were beaten in captivity.

They were also forced to wear metal collars and had their faces branded.

Research assistant Nelson Mundell, of the University of Glasgow, said: 'This project shows it wasn't an unusual thing to have slaves walking around the streets of villages, towns and cities the length and breadth of Britain.

'The adverts make for sobering reading as they describe scars and markings from whips or brands.

Captives being brought on board a slave ship on the West Coast of Africa (Slave Coast), c1880

Captives being brought on board a slave ship on the West Coast of Africa (Slave Coast), c1880

 

 

The database is a result of the university's Runaway Slaves in Britain project. It involved combing through tens of thousands of pages of newspapers to locate ads

The database is a result of the university's Runaway Slaves in Britain project. It involved combing through tens of thousands of pages of newspapers to locate ads

'It also shows on occasion slaves wore collars or other manacles, sometimes with the owner's name engraved on them, as was the case with an 18 year old fugitive called Ann who escaped from a house in Glasgow.'

Runaway slaves inadvertently generated records of themselves in the ads. Otherwise they are all but completely absent from historical records.

The detailed descriptions are enough to open the window on their dreadful suffering with information on mannerisms, clothes, hairstyles, skin markings, teeth and skills.

Some were employed as sailors and dock workers as well as craftsmen, labourers and washerwomen.

One of the ads, from the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette dated 16 March 1769, offered 'Twenty Guineas Reward' for his return or 'Five Guineas for such Intelligence' leading to his recapture.

Some lucky few escaped poverty and a life of servitude in Britain to become successful businessmen and scholars, like Ignatius Sancho

Olaudah Equiano

Some lucky few escaped poverty and a life of servitude in Britain to become successful businessmen and scholars, like Ignatius Sancho (left) and Olaudah Equiano (right)

Described as a 'young negro' called Jeremiah or Jerry, it said he had a 'large scar' on one of his wrists.

He was wearing a light-coloured 'Great Coat, dirty Leather Breeches, and White Stockings, and wore a Curl behind, that match'd the other Part of his own woolly Hair; he reads and writes badly, plays pretty well on the Violin, and can shave and dress a Wig.'

The ad continues: 'As the said Negro knows his Master's Affection for him, if he will immediately return, he will be forgiven; if Freedom be what he wishes for, he shall have it, with reasonable Wages; if he neglects this present forgiving Disposition in his Master, he may be assured that more effectual Measures will be taken. He has been pretty much at Bath, and the Hot-Wells, Bristol, with his Master.'

The Port of Liverpool, England. This is a scan of an original engraving from 'The Modern Universal British Traveller' published by J Cooke in 1779. At this time ships out of Liverpool dominated the transatlantic slave trade

The Port of Liverpool, England. This is a scan of an original engraving from 'The Modern Universal British Traveller' published by J Cooke in 1779. At this time ships out of Liverpool dominated the transatlantic slave trade

The database is a result of the university's Runaway Slaves in Britain project. It involved combing through tens of thousands of pages of newspapers to locate ads.

Only those on the run for at least a week would have led to publication. They represent a far larger number as many masters did not place ads.

The population of the black community in the UK surged in the 18th century, as the British empire expanded.

African and Afro-Carribean slaves were shipped across the world to work on plantations owned by the British.

Bare-knuckle boxer Bill Richmond 

Bill Richmond made his career as a boxer, and he became known as 'The Black Terror'

Bill Richmond made his career as a boxer, and he became known as 'The Black Terror'

Bill Richmond was an American bare-knuckle boxer, who was born a slave in New York in 1763.

But he spent most of his life in the UK. 

He was a servant of Lord Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, who took him to England in 1777.

He went to school in Yorkshire, and was an apprentice for a cebiet maker in York.

In the early 1970s, he married a local white English woman. He had several children, records show. 

By 1795 he and his family moved to London, where he became an employee of Thomas Pitt, a British peer and naval officer. 

But he made his career as a boxer, and he became known as 'The Black Terror.'

 When he retired he bought the Horse and Dolphin pub in Leicester Square and set up a boxing academy.

He died at his home in London, England in 1829.

Lord Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, who took Mr Richmond to England in 1777

Lord Percy, the Duke of Northumberland, who took Mr Richmond to England in 1777

But others were ferried into the UK, arriving in huge numbers in the main ports at the time, London, Liverpool and Bristol.  

They were brought into the country by government officials or military commaders returning to home. When they arrived in Britain they were sold at auctions, with some going to work at butlers for wealthy families. 

Estimates at the time suggested in London alone, there were about 10,000 living in the capital, which was around one per cent of the capital's population.

Any that escaped their masters though would end up living in poverty, and this is when the adverts were published, and any rewards were offered. 

Most fled to the East End of London, living in squalid conditions in the districts of Mile End and Stepney, as well as Paddington in the north west of the capital. 

However, some lucky few escaped poverty, and a life of servitude to become successful businessmen. 

Ignatius Sancho, who was born on a slave ship, became famous literary celebrity in London.

And former servant Cesar Picton became a coal merchant in Kingston-upon-Thames, and was wealthy enough when he died to leave behind two acres of land, a house, and shops. 

One of the most famous was Olaudah Equiano, who went on to become a radical reformer and best-selling author.  

In 1773 he became the first black person to explore the Arctic, and in 1786 Equiano became the first black person ever to be employed by the British government.

He was made 'Commissary of Provisions and Stores' for 350 black people who had decided to take up the government's offer of safe passage to Sierra Leone.

Simon Newman, professor of History at the university's College of Arts, said: 'We do not have the words or sometimes even the names of bound or enslaved people who were brought to 18th century Britain.

'In many cases all that remains are the short newspaper advertisements written by masters who were eager to reclaim their valuable human property.

'These advertisements are

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