The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves

| Educate!

Photo: White sugar slaves in the fields of the Barbados.

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall 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. They 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 II and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James II 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 or 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 moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls 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 that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very 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 it’s 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 nightmarish 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, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?

Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and 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.

  • occupyRUScom

    Interesting. So; Are America’s “KKK” mostly of IRISH white or BRITISH white?

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  • Ron

    Behold the ‘pale horse’. The ‘black horse’ built its empire on the backs of Black Africa. The ‘pale horse’ used pale faces as slaves and Blacks as an excuse for more enslavement. What do Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Truman, and European monarchy all have in common? They are all White people responsible for killing millions of people. Forget religion. That is merely their cover. The GOP are the Grand old Palefaces that divide and conquer people for profit. The ‘fourth seal: Behold a pale horse’ is happening now; three ‘seals’ left to open before the ‘end’. The end is preceded by the New Madrid quake which is followed by the Mid-Atlantic rift ripping apart: ‘the greatest quake ever’ from one ‘post’ over the ‘lintel’ to the next ‘post’; north pole to south pole. The rift rips open, Europe is flooded and the whole world shakes. Oh, give me some of that old time rock and roll.
    You all have a nice day before the end,

  • Robert M

    I have a problem with articles that aren’t sourced being presented as actual history…

  • Aquifer

    Very interesting ……

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    You seem to be forgetting that we have search engines to check them out with very little effort, such as a search on “Irish slaves.”

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Roosevelt and Churchill were clearly high in the ruling elite, the “GOP” you’re referring to. The others were merely easily manipulated tools presenting themselves, including Eisenhower, a lower patrician, who obeyed the Rockefeller-Harriman cabal.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Sure they would, but using a search engine isn’t difficult.

  • Robert M

    Oh so it’s everyone else’s job to cite the author’s article… I never facilitate anyone’s intellectual laziness.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    You can look to find where the enslaved Irish went and where they went upon receiving freedom. The last “witch” killed at Salem was originally one sent to the Caribbean. Remember also that a lot of the Southern slaves were very pale. Maybe that did not all come through rape by white masters.

    A few hours flipping through the references turned up by search machine should give you plenty to work with.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Indulging your own should keep you harmless. Don’t do anything.

  • bejocy

    Likewise for the Scots…

  • Robert M

    One guesses you’re attempting to be clever… Nice try.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Oh goody! You got it! I didn’t think you could understand without a reference.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Really? A heavy dose of the nasty truth is laying in on “a bit thick”? Be thankful you don’t live in Libya, Gaza, or Syria.

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  • Yulia Dragozova

    James 2 (1633-1701)
    This maens that James 2 sold 30 000 irish slavery to a New World before was born, didn`t he?

  • circe154

    The Irish are honorary white people now. While many of us are still poor, the legacy of slavery doesn’t hang over us the way it does black people because we’re in the club now. No one’s not getting hired because their name is O’Mally, mean while Lakisha isn’t.

  • circe154

    While I don’t question the article when you present something as contriversial or unusual as this its up to the author to back up their statements with sources.

  • circe154

    The KKK also dislikes Catholics. Figure it out from there.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    So looking up “Irish Slaves” is too difficult for you? Okay.

  • circe154

    No, but if you’re presenting an article about anything it shouldn’t be too hard to put a few links to your sources at the bottom.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    This is a big thing with you, eh? I agree, but so what?

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  • domcd

    Don’t know how I ended up back here, but you completely misunderstood what I was saying.

  • mark

    Actually he delights in missunderstanding then mocking.

    At least his muslim, depraved jew hatred is not slithering from his texts on here

  • mark

    quote “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.”

    Roman catholic fake theology aside, the most evil lie that stood out was the part that muslims treated black slaves better…. a wicked depraved and evil lie.

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