Black history, the Company, and tracing links with the transatlantic slave trade


This page will contain research updates and blogs relating to Black History, the Company and the transatlantic slave trade


The Goldsmiths’ Company and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Goldsmiths’ Company is committed to researching into any evidence of links between the Company and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and to cooperating with others undertaking research. It commits to being transparent about the results of such research.

Who and what we are researching

No evidence has yet come to light of direct investment in the slave trade by the Company. The Company’s large membership makes checking every individual member for links with the slave trade an impossible task with current resources. Instead, research will be focused on those individuals who were the Company’s main charitable benefactors, as published in W.S. Prideaux’s Charities of the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1899. Such individuals gave gifts of money, annuities or land to the Company to be used in its role as a charity.  But the major gifts to the Company, particularly of property, were made well before the development of the transatlantic slave trade.

In addition, research will be carried out on other ‘Persons of Interest’, such as individuals identified in the Legacies of Slave Ownership UCL database as goldsmiths, or who appear  in works of art displayed in Goldsmiths’ Hall.

A History of the Goldsmiths’ Company is currently being prepared, for publication in 2027. As part of this process, the entire Minutes of the Company will be read and any link with the Transatlantic Slave Trade mentioned therein will be noted. It is also hoped that corporate benefactors could be identified using this method.

The time period being researched is 1630 to 1850 to identify any links to slavery from the beginnings of widespread British involvement in this trade, through to the abolition of slavery in 1833. Earlier or later links which come to our attention will be recorded and included in published research.

Results

We will try  to identify the value of monies and land given to the Company; its estimated equivalent value in today’s money; and, if possible, to trace the benefit of such gifts to the Company up until the present day and consolidation of charitable monies at the end of the 19th century.

We will use any links discovered relating to individuals featured in works of art to reinterpret these pieces, creating pathways to explore how the transatlantic slave trade was intertwined with the development of the City of London during this period. We will also listen to feedback from our members and the wider Goldsmiths community as to how any such artworks should be displayed.

Sources

Initial searches were made in the Dictionary of National Biography and Wikipedia, as sources which are widely accessible.
The following core sources will be used to carry out further research:
UCL Legacies of British Slave Ownership database
Wills of individuals accessed through the National Archives
Court Minutes of the Goldsmiths’ Company

Publication

It is envisaged that phase one of the research (that on charitable benefactors and identified ‘persons of interest’) will be published online and with open access in summer 2022, or when all current lines of research have been completed, whichever occurs first. 

Phase two of the research (identifying corporate benefactors and any other links, dependent on reading all of the Company’s minutes) will be published at a time to be confirmed.

Contact

Researchers undertaking work in this area are welcome to contact the Company for access to our records and research. Until phase one publication, research would be supplied in the form of a list of names.

If you have a research query about this project please contact the Librarian in the first instance. Press enquiries should be directed to the Director of Communications.

The Goldsmiths’ Company will publish quarterly updates on the progress of this research. 

THIS UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 2020. 

Our blog section will include ongoing insights and information from our research so far


The Goldsmiths' Company: African connections

Librarian Eleni Bide introduces African links within the Goldsmiths' Company