Irish Slaves

Here is a very interesting article on the Irish slave trade that sent so many Irish families to the new world in the 17th century.  While I had heard of it, I did not realize to what extent the migration was. Many thousands of Irish families were sold as slaves to be exported to Virginia and the Caribbean.

From the article:

“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.”

Our own common ancestor, James Luttrell  came to America via the old fashioned way, as a slave.  He went from Ireland to Barbados then eventually to Maryland.  While the article points out that we sometimes mistakenly refer to these slaves as “indentured servants” I wonder if James Luttrell was more indentured servant than slave. He must have had some way to buy his freedom rather quickly as it didn’t take long for him to go from indentured to a sea captain of a merchant ship to become established as a Virginia landholder.

The article, written by John Martin, is a very interesting read on our Irish history. Enjoy.


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