The effects on British ports

How extensive was the slave trade?

The table below shows the figures for slave trade through the main British ports in 1771.

Figures for slave trade - British ports 1771
PortNumber of shipsEnslaved people
Liverpool10729,250
London588,136
Bristol238,810
Lancaster4950

Glasgow also carried half of Europe’s tobacco trade at this time, an industry which depended upon slave labour to grow the tobacco in Britain’s colonies in the Americas.

How did the slave trade affect British ports?

The slave trade brought a great deal of wealth to the British ports that were involved.

Many other cities also grew rich on the profits of industries which depended on materials such as cotton, sugar and tobacco that were produced using labour from enslaved people.

Ports such as Bristol, Liverpool and London sent out many slave ships each year, bringing great prosperity to their owners.

1792 was the busiest slave-trading year for Britain, when 204 ships left Britain to carry enslaved people from Africa to the Americas - this amounted on average, to four ships a week.

The video below examines Scotland and the slave trade.