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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

James Irving and Slavery

James Irving travelled to Jamaica under William Wilson on the slave-ship, Vulture in November 1782. It has been argued by Suzanne Schwarz: "Assuming that Irving was paid £4 wages a month, together with the value of two privilege slaves and one shilling head money for each of the 592 slaves delivered alive to the West Indies, it is likely that Irving earned approximately £140 from this voyage. This is consistent with the average voyage earnings of slave-ship surgeons in the late eighteenth century, which were typically between £100 and £150."

After his marriage to Mary Tunstall in Liverpool on 2nd July 1785, Irving was then recruited by Quayle Fargher, the captain of Jane. In May 1786 he sailed to Tobago. He wrote to his wife that "our black cattle are intolerably noisy and I'm almost melted in the midst of five or six hundred of them." David Richardson has argued: "Irving's insensitvity suggests that, even at a time when moral outrage in Britain at the enslavement of Africans was spreading, participation in the slave trade was still capable of promoting racism and blinding otherwise apparently quite caring individuals to the appalling suffering that they were helping to inflict on others."


Anonymous said...

I need to link them in a paper somehow other than the period they wrote in. Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Douglas, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Thoureu.
Perfect Radiance

SarahM said...

The world was a strange and cruel place in the 1780's when humans were treated like cattle - thank goodness for the progress of mankind.
Genie Bra Reviews