Hertfordshire's Hidden Histories

Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

In 2007, Britain marked the bicentenary of Abolition of Slave Trade Act.  At Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies, we undertook a major Heritage Lottery funded project to find out how Hertfordshire people were involved in the slave trade and its abolition. 

The project ran for one year from Feb 2007-Feb 2008 and involved partners in museums, libraries and community groups.  

Our aims were to:

  • Increase understanding of the slave trade, its abolition and the early Black presence in Hertfordshire.
  • Use historical sources as a stimulus for creative workshops to engage young people and their families with the ‘hidden histories’
  • Promote more positive teaching and learning about the slave trade
  • Widen audience participation in Hertfordshire’s archives and museums and show their relevance for all

Our Intended Outcomes:

  • Supporting volunteers to research in the archives
  • Creative writing and dance performance workshops
  • Showcase events
  • Author visits to schools
  • Talks
  • Exhibition
  • DVD
  • Heritage Trail
  • Web pages including database of historical references to people of African descent in Hertfordshire before 1807

In the documents below, you can discover Hertfordshire families that were involved in the trade. These include document references for material held at HALS.  In the second document, you can read about people of African and Caribbean descent who were in Hertfordshire prior to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807. In the third, you can read about Hertfordshire involved in the abolition of slavery.

Since this project, new research has been carried out by a team of historians at University College London.  They have produced an online database called Legacies of British Slave Ownership.  Here you can find records of every Hertfordshire slave owner – how many slaves they owned, where and how much compensation they were paid in the mid 1830s, following the Slavery Abolition Act, which marked the end of slavery within the British Empire.

This page was added on 08/12/2020.

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