Slavery Abolition Act 1833

Slavery Abolition Act 1833

Infobox UK Legislation
short_title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833
parliament=United Kingdom Parliament
long_title=An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies; for promoting the Industry of the manumitted Slaves; and for compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of such Slaves.
statute_book_chapter=3 & 4 Will.4 c.73
royal_assent=28 August 1833
commencement=1 August 1834
1 December 1834 (Cape of Good Hope)
1 February 1835 (Mauritius)
repeal_date=19 November 1998
related_legislation=Slave Trade Act 1807, Slave Trade Act 1824, Slave Trade Act 1843, Slave Trade Act 1873
repealing_legislation=Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998

"The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833" "(citation 3 & 4 Will. IV c. 73)" was an 1833 Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolishing slavery throughout the majority of the British Empire (with the notable exceptions "of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company," the "Island of Ceylon," and "the Island of Saint Helena.")cite web |url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section LXIV |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03]


Britain had outlawed the slave trade with the Slave Trade Act in 1807, with penalties of £100 per slave levied on British captains found importing slaves. However, this did not stop the British slave trade: if slave ships were in danger of being captured by the Royal Navy, captains were known to have ordered the slaves to be thrown into the sea to reduce the fines they had to pay. According to the 1844 McMulloch's Commercial Dictionary; "America abolished the slave trade at the same time as England. But not withstanding what had been done, further measures were soon discovered to be necessary. The Spanish and Portuguese continued to carry on the trade to a greater extent than ever; and British subjects did not hesitate, under cover of their flags, to become partners in their adventures."

The next step, then, was to make slavery illegal. A new Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1823, with members including Thomas Clarkson, Henry Brougham, William Wilberforce, Thomas Fowell Buxton, Elizabeth Heyrick, Mary Lloyd, Jane Smeal, Elizabeth Pease, and Anne Knight.

They prevailed ten years later with the Slavery Abolition Act.

Main points of the Act

Slavery was officially abolished in the majority of the British Empire on 1 August 1834. [cite web |url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section XII |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03] In practical terms, however, only slaves below the age of six were freed as all slaves over the age of six were redesignated as "apprentices". [cite web
url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section I |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03
] Apprentices would continue to serve their former owners for a period of time after the abolition of slavery, though the length of time they served depended on which of the three classes of apprentice they were.cite web |url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section IV |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03]

The first class of apprentices were former slaves who "in their State of Slavery were usually employed in Agriculture, or in the Manufacture of Colonial Produce or otherwise, upon Lands belonging to their Owners". The second class of apprentices were former slaves who "in their State of Slavery were usually employed in Agriculture, or in the Manufacture of Colonial Produce or otherwise, upon Lands not belonging to their Owners". The third class of apprentices was composed of all former slaves "not included within either of the Two preceding Classes". Apprentices within the third class were released from their apprenticeships on 1 August 1838. [cite web |url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section VI |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03] The remaining apprentices within the first and second classes were released from their apprenticeships on 1 August 1840. [cite web |url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section V |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03]

The Act also included the right of compensation for slave-owners who would be losing their property. The amount of money to be spent on the compensation claims was set at "the Sum of Twenty Millions Pounds Sterling". [cite web |url= |title=Slavery Abolition Act 1833; Section XXIV |date=1833-08-28 |accessdate=2008-06-03] . Under the terms of the Act the British government raised £20 million to pay out in compensation for the loss of the slaves as business assets to the registered owners of the freed slaves.The names listed in the registers show that ownership was spread over many hundreds of British families, many of them of high social standing.For example, Henry Phillpotts (the then Bishop of Exeter), in a partnership with three business colleagues, received £12,700 for 665 slaves.fact|date=January 2008

As a notable exception to the rest of the British Empire, the Act did not "extend to any of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company, or to the Island of Ceylon, or to the Island of Saint Helena."


The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 was repealed in its entirety under the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998. [cite web |url= |title=Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1998 |date=1998-11-19 |accessdate=2008-06-04] However, this repeal has not made slavery legal again, as sections of the Slave Trade Act 1824, Slave Trade Act 1843 and Slave Trade Act 1873 are still in force. [cite web |url= |title=Slave Trade Act 1824 |date=1824-06-24 |accessdate=2008-06-04] [cite web |url= |title=Slave Trade Act 1843 |date=1843-08-24 |accessdate=2008-06-04] [cite web |url= |title=Slave Trade Act 1873 |date=1873-08-05 |accessdate=2008-06-04]

ee also

* Act Against Slavery, an act in Upper Canada that ended slavery there


External links

* [ The Parliamentary Archives holds the original of this historic record]
* [ Text of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833]
* [ Teaching resources about Slavery and Abolition on]

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