The Royal Navy enforced the 1807 Slave Trade Act

In 1807, the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was passed that prohibited the slave trade in the British Empire.

The Act created fines for ship captains who continued with the trade. These fines could be up to £100 per enslaved person found on a ship. Captains would sometimes dump captives overboard when they saw Navy ships coming in order to avoid these fines.[1]

The first case brought under the act was that of Samuel Samo, who was tried by Chief Justice Robert Thorpe at the Vice-Admiralty Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The case was heard from 8 April to 11 April 1812.

The Royal Navy, which then controlled the world’s seas, established the West Africa Squadron in 1808 to patrol the coast of West Africa, and between 1808 and 1860 they seized approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard.[2]

To learn more, book the ANTI SLAVERY BELFAST TOUR!

[1] Accessed 3.1.23.

[2] Martin Meredith, The Fortunes of Africa (New York: PublicAffairs, 2014), pp.191–194. Accessed 3.1.23.

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