Book: The Price of Sugar

June 2010. The publicaions of this book has been delayed due to the 'discovery of the Jamaican Diaries of Robert Hibbert' for years 1771 - 1780. These diaries fundamentally alter our understanding of the events in Jamaica prior to Wilberforce's first speech in 1789.

Announcing the forthcoming book.

By Nick Hibbert Steele

The Price of Sugar, will detail the history of the Commercial Interests of the Hibbert family and other merchants involved in the West India Trade.

Thomas Hibbert arrived in Jamaica in 1734, the first of ten Hibberts that were, Merchants, slave owners and traders that in the mid 18c. controlled almost half of the Jamaican slave trade. With plantation interests in about 60 estates in that island they were a formidable force to be reckoned with.

In London, George Hibbert M.P. West India Merchant, nephew of Thomas Hibbert, led London’s 18 year defence of the colonial slave system from Wilberforce’s speech of 1789 to the Wilberforce Act of 1807 that proscribed the shipping of new slaves from West Africa.

As the pros and cons of the abolition of slavery debate resonated around Clapham Common the Home Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect. George Hibbert, also a Clapham resident, was busying himself with the construction of the West India Docks, opened in 1802, that relied on the maintenance of the colonial slave system for its financial success.

George Hibbert along with other West Indian Merchants in Parliament, King George III and the House of Lords effectively blocked the abolition of the slave trade from the Mansfield decision of 1772 that outlawed the owning of slaves in England to the eventual abolition of slavery in 1838.

Why did it take 66 years and the payment of £20,000,000 to the slave owners not the slaves to end the slavery?

This site is a research site into the artistic, commercial, philanthropic, political and slaving interests of the Hibbert Family over 300 years from their origins in the cotton Industry around Manchester to the descendants in the 21 century.

In part to explain the moral values of the age that allowed the slave trade to flourish until compensation was finally paid to end it, but more importantly, to honour the slaves of the West Indies.

Without the import taxes paid on the produce of Jamaica and the other West Indian islands that accounted for about 40% of all revenue raised by the Government, The British Empire would have been a very different place, if it had existed at all.

This is the untold story of the vested interests of the pro slaving lobby and merchant networks that maintained the status quo. These merchants were more powerful than Parliament, their story is surprising.

The research documents and sources will be published on this site and we will welcome contributions from other commentators.