by Kelly d. Whittaker
A famous history professor stated that history was not a science but a continuing investigation into the past; a person’s conclusion is based on their own bias. This story will offer evidence that the Alba, Scots, Irish and Pics have been the longest race held in slavery. The reader will be responsible for their own bias pertaining to White Slavery.
Alexander Stewart was herded off the Gildart in July of 1747, bound with chains. Stewart was pushed onto the auction block in Wecomica, St Mary’s County, Maryland. Doctor Stewart and his brother William were attending the auction, aware of Alexander being on that slave ship coming from Liverpool England. Doctor Stewart and William were residents of Annapolis and brothers to David of Ballachalun in Montieth, Scotland. The two brothers paid nine pound six shillings sterling to Mr. Benedict Callvert of Annapolis for the purchase of Alexander. He was a slave. Alexander tells of the other 88 Scots sold into slavery that day in “THE LYON IN MOURNING” pages 242-243.
Jeremiah Howell was a lifetime-indentured servant by his uncle in Lewis County, Virginia in the early 1700’s. His son, Jeremiah, won his freedom by fighting in the Revolution. There were hundreds of thousands of Scots sold into slavery during Colonial America. White slavery to the American Colonies occurred as early as 1630 in Scotland.
According to the Egerton manuscript, British Museum, the enactment of 1652: it may be lawful for two or more justices of the peace within any county, citty or towne, corporate belonging to the commonwealth to from tyme to tyme by warrant cause to be apprehended, seized on and detained all and every person or persons that shall be found begging and vagrant.. in any towne, parish or place to be conveyed into the Port of London, or unto any other port from where such person or persons may be shipped into a forraign collonie or plantation.
The judges of Edinburgh Scotland during the years 1662-1665 ordered the enslavement and shipment to the colonies a large number of rogues and others who made life unpleasant for the British upper class. (Register for the Privy Council of Scotland, third series, vol. 1, p 181, vol. 2, p 101).
The above accounting sounds horrific but slavery was what the Scots have survived for a thousand years. The early ancestors of the Scots, Alba and Pics were enslaved as early as the first century BC. Varro, a Roman philosopher stated in his agricultural manuscripts that white slaves were only things with a voice or instrumenti vocali. Julius Caesar enslaves as many as one million whites from Gaul. (William D Phillips, Jr. SLAVERY FROM ROMAN TIMES TO EARLY TRANSATLANTIC TRADE, p. 18).
Pope Gregory in the sixth century first witnessed blonde hair, blue eyed boys awaiting sale in a Roman slave market. The Romans enslaved thousands of white inhabitants of Great Britain, who were also known as Angles. Pope Gregory was very interested in the looks of these boys therefore asking their origin. He was told they were Angles from Briton. Gregory stated, “Non Angli, sed Angeli.” (Not Angles but Angels).
The eighth to the eleventh centuries proved to be very profitable for Rouen France. Rouen was the transfer point of Irish and Flemish slaves to the Arabian nations. The early centuries AD the Scottish were known as Irish. William Phillips on page 63 states that the major component of slave trade in the eleventh century were the Vikings. They spirited many ‘Irish’ to Spain, Scandinavia and Russia. Legends have it; some ‘Irish’ may have been taken as far as Constantinople.
Ruth Mazo Karras wrote in her book, “SLAVERY AND SOCIETY IN MEDEIVEL SCANDINAVIA” pg. 49; Norwegian Vikings made slave raids not only against the Irish and Scots (who were often called Irish in Norse sources) but also against Norse settlers in Ireland or Scottish Isles or even in Norway itself…slave trading was a major commercial activity of the Viking Age. The children of the White slaves in Iceland were routinely murdered en masse. (Karras pg 52)
According to these resources as well as many more, the Scots-Irish have been enslaved longer than any other race in the world’s history. Most governments do not teach White Slavery in their World History classes. Children of modern times are only taught about the African slave trade. The Scots do not need to be taught because they are very aware of the atrocities upon an enslaved race. Most importantly, we have survived to become one to the largest races on Earth!!!
White Slavery in America
The topic of this story is a sensitive one yet one of great importance. White slavery in America was real. There are many documents that verify the bondage, kidnapping and transporting of Brits to the Colonies as slaves. The importance of this story will help those who cannot find a ship passenger list on their ancestor. This story may not pertain to all who came to America that are not listed on ship passenger lists.
The Journal of Negro History #52 pp.251-273 states, “The sources of racial thought in Colonial America pertaining to slave trade worked both directions with white merchandise as well as black.”
Thomas Burton recorded in his Parliament Diary 1656-1659 vol. 4 pp. 253-274 a debate in the English Parliament focusing on the selling of British whites into slavery in the New World. The debate refers to whites as slaves ‘whose enslavement threatened the liberties of all Englishmen.’
The British government had realized as early as the 1640’s how beneficial white slave labor was to the profiting colonial plantations. Slavery was instituted as early as 1627 in the British West Indies. The Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series of 1701 records 25000 slaves in Barbados in which 21700 were white slaves.
George Downing wrote a letter to the honorable John Winthrop Colonial Governor of Massachusetts in 1645, “planters who want to make a fortune in the West Indies must procure white slave labor out of England if they wanted to succeed.” Lewis Cecil Gray’s History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860 vol.1 pp 316, 318 records Sir George Sandys’ 1618 plan for Virginia, referring to bound whites assigned to the treasurer’s office. “To belong to said office forever. The service of whites bound to Berkeley Hundred was deemed perpetual.”
The Quoke Walker case in Massachusetts 1773 ruled that; slavery contrary to the state Constitution was applied equally to Blacks and Whites in Massachusetts.
Statutes at Large of Virginia, vol. 1 pp. 174, 198, 200, 243 & 306 did not discriminate Negroes in bondage from Whites in Bondage.
Marcellus Rivers and Oxenbridge Foyle, England’s Slaves 1659 consists of a statement smuggled out of the New World and published in London referring to whites in bondage who did not think of themselves as indentured servants but as “England’s Slaves” and “England’s merchandise.”
Colonial Office, Public Records Office, London 1667, no. 170 records that “even Blacks referred to the White forced laborers in the colonies as “white slaves.” Pages 343 through 346 of Historical Sketch of the Persecutions Suffered by the Catholics of Ireland by; Patrick F. Moran refers to the transportation of the Irish to the colonies as the “slave-trade.”
Ulrich B. Phillips, Life and Labor in the Old South explain that white enslavement was crucial to the development of the Negro slave system. The system set up for the white slaves governed, organized and controlled the system for the black slaves. Black slaves were “late comers fitted into a system already developed.” Pp 25-26. John Pory declared in 1619, “white slaves are our principle wealth.”
The above quotations from various authors are just the tip of the iceberg on the white slave trade of the Americas. People from the British Isles were kidnapped, put in chains and crammed into ships that transported hundreds of them at a time. Their destination was Virginia Boston, New York, Barbados and the West Indies. The white slaves were treated the same or worse than the black slave. The white slave did not fetch a good price at the auction blocks. Bridenbaugh wrote in his accounting on page 118, having paid a bigger price for the Negro, the planters treated the black better than they did their “Christian” white servant. Even the Negroes recognized this and did not hesitate to show their contempt for those white men who, they could see, were worse off than themselves.
Governments have allowed this part of American and British history to be swallowed up. The contemptible black slavery has taken a grip on people associated with American History. Yet, no one will tell of these accountings that are well established on to the middle 1800’s.
Slavery is not something to be proud of but it is a fact that happened to every country, kingdom and empire that has been on this earth. Each of us needs to search our hearts and find the answer to stop racial hatred. One place to begin; realize that the black race was not the only race in the last 400 years that was in bondage.