The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves

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The Slaves That Time Forgot

By John Martin

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? After all, 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 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.

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537 thoughts on “The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves”

  1. There is also a very interesting History Documentary on YouTube, called MEET THE AFRIKAN, , it is done in 9 different parts each lasting about 10 minutes. It was so interesting I downloaded all of them and combined them for DVD. The video shows that we are all related through mitochondrial DNA

  2. Eli Agustus Riply says Eveloution has come to an impass, we can go no further, If a world cannot and will not forgive the trespasses of others, then all of our acheivements of good things will fall by the way side, and we the population of the world, will be found wanting.

    1. Great old read “to hell or barbados” damien dempsey wrote it
      reat lyrics and great mellody


  3. From my brief research and my study, I am starting to come to the conclusion that the Irish where/are descendants of the Tribe of Dan. GOD put the Israelites into slavery on ships. Deuteronomy 28:68 and they had yokes of iron put around their necks. Deuteronom 28:48 and th Latinos, Negroes, and Native Americans fit those curses in the bible, but now with further studying the Tautha de Danaan are Israelites and that would be the Irish. The tribe of Dan. The Spartans, Vikings, Celts, Nordics, etc all might also be Israelites too.

    1. I hope that I am miss reading your post and you do not actually believe that God would enslave people like this. Enslavement and racism is a manmade idea that is used for economic and political purposes. If no one profited from it, these concepts wouldn’t exist.

        1. I hope people like you aren’t stupid enough to base someone’s intelligence off of whether or not they believe in god.

    2. I think you are a moron. Your closest kin are the palestinians, why not claim them, they are genetically identical to the israelites?

    3. Okay. There is so many assumptions and personal opinion in the comments people have left here it is detracting from the original argument. There seems to be little in the way of strong facts. I understand that there are white people in the caribean, but didn’t James II have thousands of English people sent there as slaves after the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth at the Battle of Sedgemoor?

    4. You have a lot of strange ideas in here. The worst is that you put Latino as a race. The only Latin people in bible times were the Romans and they were not slaves.

  4. I persay would not deny this incident ever occured, but where is the evidence ? Anyone can write a story or say anything…In regards to this topic, but where are ship documents, records, post, ect ect. ?

    We know that in any court of law, one has to provide evidence to prove such an incident did occur, otherwise it’s a “claim”

    1. Evidence of genocide? Where is the evidence of African or Indian slaves? Where is the evidence of the Armenian Holocaust? All we have is historical accounts. There is no “hard evidence” and there are no living slaves to ask.

      I personally think focusing on any one ethnic group is a huge waste of time. We should all accept that slavery and genocide are abhorrent and intolerable, then move on(especially since basically all Americans have Irish, African, and Indian ancestry).

      1. The evidence of African slaves is in Egypt. There are decendants of slaves that are slaves in Egypt today. The African people have been enslaved there for more than 800 years.

        1. Egyptian slaves were Jews, captured enemies, or of supra-saharan (north african) descent. They were not the “black slaves” you have come to identify with. While you may identify yourself as “African”, you pin that identification upon a very narrow segment of Africa. Sub-saharan africans are black, and Swahili is the dominant language in that area. Northern Africans are “middle-eastern” in appearance, culture, and countenance. On another note, the slaves sold to the western hemisphere for the large part were simply the losers of some useless tribal conflict. Blacks weren’t hunted down like animals, you just lost out. Just like the Irish, the Armenians, the Native Americans, the Hmong, and the Taiwanese. Time to move on. Every group has felt the pain of being an enslaved race, so shut up and move on. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and accept responsibility for your actions and your fate.

          1. According to the World Bank, there are approximately 875 million people in what you Albinos like to refer to as Sub-saharan Africa and a 140 million of those are speakers of Swahili, how do you propose that the “dominant language in that area” is Swahili? Where did you get your information? I am more apt to believing World Vision because this type of information is their business to know. After all, they are part of the project in assisting their fellow Albinos to murder, kill and rape for resources. So of course, they would keep accurate information on the conquered to see how many are left after their chemical and biological warfare for resources and their depopulation agenda.

            How many times are you whites going to reclassify the world and tell people what they are and what they are not? First you said they were Africans but now to suit the white Jew-ish lie of being from that region supra-Saharan Africans are not Africans. There phenotypes you find in supra-Saharan African are also visible in people below the Sahara. I understand that you have read a few magazines that supports your worldview but I live in an area where I have interacted with these people every daily. because whites think they differ in appearance from sub-Saharan Africans? Drew, it seems to me that you are not relaying nothing here but your feelings. I have met what you refer to as supra-Saharan Africans who do not look much different from someone from the Caribbean islands. I have met Egyptians who looked like my family members. I have met Sudanese who were blacker than the blackest earth. And I have met sub-Saharan Africans with thinner noses and thin lips – what are you now referring to as supra-Saharan features. I have met Ethiopians whom I thought were Caribbean women who converted to Islam. Curious enough, I was shopping at what would deem to be a Muslim businesses related plaza and a Pakistani man walked up to me and said, “Why are all these blacks following our religion/culture? Why are they Muslims?” I smiled at him and said, “I do not know.” I have no idea why he said that to me because I am what you would call black. Additionally, in terms of phenotype, there is no difference between southern Somalia and Kenya. Coincidentally, the majority of the blacks he was referring to who visit that plaza are Somalis. That Pakistan man is not confused about those people being black, why are you? Because you are doing what Europeans do best – divide and rule. Africa is the most diverse continent on the planet. Albinos stop the divide and conquer bullshit. Put down the National Geographic magazine and travel. Remove those European racist coloured glasses.

          2. By the way, I have never understood when Albinos say, “Middle Eastern people are white, too.” Where on earth are they getting this information that all Middle Eastern people have pale skin? Most of the Middle Eastern (Asian) people I have encountered had tan skin. And yes, I have met a few blonds but most were darker than any who would be considered European (white). I have even met a black Iranian. There are videos of black Iranians on Youtube if you don’t believe in their existence. I have a friend is one of the palest persons (with what most would call negro nose and negro lips) I have ever met and he told me that his father’s family are from south Iran and they are black but his mother is Persian. I have met Iraqis who told me of black Iraqis. So like I said with this much diversity, why are Albinos classifying the people of the Middle East (Asia) as Europeans (white)?

            That’s the beauty of living in a city such as where I live, if you have a non racist worldview like me and you are open, friendly, you will make the acquaintance of so many people from across the globe, thanks to our subway systems, diverse workplaces, shops/restaurants that reflects the cultures of the people’s homelands and our diverse classrooms/school systems.

    2. There were white blond blue eyed reported as the whole family works for 6k in late 1980s or 90s. In Kentucky by Diane Sawyer. They came from these slaves. When I came across them in 1970s it was $4 k a yr per family. When I told these people the unknown is not as bad as what they lived in & went to help a girl get library books to here. I almost got killed. When they finally showed this in magazines and new; feed the children went to help feed them. They didn’t need them anymore. Less tobacco was being sold. Check out the book “Tobacco Road”

    3. I also want to say when someone threatened to kill you; it was not a crime then. People did mysteriously disappear. Those kids were not allow to communicate with any other kids.

    4. Reams and reams of correspondence, legal documents, receipts, BILLS OF SALE, shipping manifests, port records, farm journals, stock books, (for stock in this case, read slave. Yes, the actually kept breeding records). Held in the National Museum of Ireland, the British Museum, many other Museums throughout Britain, museums in most of the Caribbean countries mentioned, many private collections made available for study. And then this doofus blithely comes along and says, “it never happened, where’s the evidence”?

  5. This article is an important read.
    We should all demand nothing but complete knowledge. The importance and relevance that is being taught in our schools concerning slavery seems to be nothing more than “white people were horrible to black people” when it should focus more on the atrocities of ALL slavery (which GREED not RACE is the driving force)… The greedy people in this world are sick, and what is being done to help them?
    Thank you for bringing awareness & encouraging unity with this piece.

  6. The reason the Irish, black, and Indian slave trade happened is biblical. Moses told the children of Israel that of they broke the laws of the Elohim that certain curses would fall upon them and their children and their children’s children and so forth and so forth. Deuteronomy 28:68 says that the LORD would bring them into captivity again by ships the word Egypt means slavery or bondage. Deuteronomy 28:48 speaks of a yoke of iron put around their necks. There was a powerful and mystical people that invaded Ireland in ancient times they conquered Ireland and was known as the Tautha De Danaan= Tribe of Dan. The modern day Irish man and women are the descendants of the Tribe of Dan from the bible. The fifth son of Jacob Dan. That’s why they went into slavery. The Negroes in America are not from Africa. They are Hebrews from the Tribe of Judah. The Latinos especially the Puerto Ricans (Taino Indians) are the Tribe of Joseph/Ephraim and the Cubans are the Tribe of Manasseh are Indian/Native American enslaved by the Spanish speaking nations and the Native American North American Indians are the Tribe of Gad and the Seminole Indians are the Tribe of Rueben

    1. Actually, Swift, mythologically speaking, the modern Irish are descended from the Mílesians, or the Sons of Míl, a people said to have arrived from Spain, not the Tuatha Dé Dannan.

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