"He (Isaac Turner) was going to take care of the rebel leaders once and for all. Irish law required political prisoners to be sold English families in the American colonies and in West Indies as slaves. He had the perfect buyer for Alexander McGillpatrick and his sons." - Kathleen's Revenge by Allison Bruning
Irish Slave Trade
It's something we don't learn about in our history books. We have grand visions of colonists who came to American with visions of starting over. Yet little do you hear about the colonists who had been forcibly removed from their homes and shipped to the colonies as indentured servants. Indentured servitude is just a nice way of saying white slavery. But to understand how and why the Irish were forced into slavery you must understand the back story of it all.
Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries was a very dangerous place to live if you had been born Irish. The conflict between the English and Irish began when King John became the first Lord of Ireland. He visited the island twice (1185 and 1210) and convinced many of the Irish kings to swear their allegiance to his reign. Ireland had a long history of defending their lands against outsiders who wanted to control their island. Some of the Irish nobles had deemed King John an outsider and wanted nothing to do with him while others believed it was best to swear their fidelity to the English intruder in an effort to maintain peace.
Conflict on between the Irish and English nobles continued for over 100 years. In 1348, the Black Death came to the island killing more English and Normans than Irish. At the end of the plague, the Irish culture and language once again dominated the island. By the end of the 15th century, England had almost forgotten about the island as their attention was now focused on the War of the Roses.
In 1536, King Henry VIII decided to turn English eyes back on Ireland. He spent years trying to place control of the island under the English crown yet he would not live to see the fruit of his labor. The reconquest of Ireland eventually happened during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth the I and King James.
The English greatly dehumanized the Irish claiming the Irish were savages. The practice of dehumanizing the Irish continued overseas in the colonies well into the 20th century. The Irish Slave Trade began under the rule of King James II with his Proclamation of 1625. He declared all Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. 30,000 Irish were forcibly removed from their homes and sold as slaves in Barbados. The English crown gave Oliver Cromwell free reign to gather undesirable Irish and sell them overseas. Ireland soon became the place for merchants to obtain white slaves. He rounded up the Catholics and shipped them as slaves to the Caribbean, mainly Barbados. In 1656, Cromwell gathered 2,000 Irish children and sold them to merchants and English settlers in Jamaica. From 1641 to 1652, over 300,000 Irish were sold as slaves. In one single decade, Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000.
The Caribbean wasn't the only place the Irish were forced into servitude. Irish slaves were also found in the American colonies. Ireland soon became the place for merchants to obtain slaves because Irish slaves were less expensive to obtain than African slaves.
The Irish Slave Trade lasted from the 15th through the 18th century. You can learn more about the Irish Slave Trade from this site http://humboldtsentinel.com/tag/proclamation-of-1625/