16 May 2019

From Carolina to Kingswood: Boston King’s Story of Enslavement, Salvation and Sedition

Due to another event at M Shed, this talk will take place at The Pavilion at No1 Hannover Quay.

Kingswood School, established by John Wesley just outside Bristol in the 1740s, holds an unlikely place in Black British history.

Here, in 1794, a veteran from the losing side of the American Revolutionary War sat down to record his life story, from his enslavement in the Carolinas to his freedom in Canada and his missions to Sierra Leone.

Today, Boston King’s memoir is regarded as one of the classic ‘slave narratives’ of the eighteenth century. But how did this story of survival and resistance come to be published?

Why did the Methodists at Bristol, historically a centre of the British slave trade, want to promote King’s abolitionist message? And how, in a decade of social and political turmoil, did a former enslaved African help this group of religious ‘enthusiasts’ escape the suspicions of an increasingly paranoid and draconian Home Office?

This talk will examine King’s life and afterlife in the Bristol area, touching on Atlantic revolutions, domestic radicalism, the evangelical movement, and the fight against enslavement.

Speaker: Dr Ryan Hanley is a British Academy PostDoctoral Fellow at University College, London.

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk.