16 April 2020

Murder on the Middle Passage: The trial of Captain Kimber

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In April 1792 Captain John Kimber of the Bristol ship, Recovery, was tried for the murder of a slave.

The charge was very unusual, though not entirely unprecedented, for enslaved Africans were generally regarded as “cargo”.

In the famous insurance case of 1783 involving African captives thrown off the Zong slave ship, they were deemed the legal equivalent of horses.

This talk traces the career path of the captain, the circumstances of the death, the drama of the trial, and how and why this particular case became a cause célèbre in the battle to establish an enslaved African’s legal personality and to abolish the slave trade.

It also tracks the afterlife of the Kimber affair in Bristol and abolition history.

Speaker: Nicholas Rogers is Distinguished Professor in History at York University, Toronto.

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk.