(List / Interactive)
DATE EVENT NOTE
1492 Columbus’s voyage to the ‘New World’, landing in the Bahamas
1494 Columbus’ 2nd voyage, landing in Jamaica
1497 John Cabot set sails from Bristol, discovers Newfoundland
1509 Henry VIII rises to the throne
1547 Edward VI becomes king.
1552 Society of Merchant Venturers formed – The Society was set up to regulate Bristol’s overseas trade. It still exists today
1553 Queen Mary I becomes queen
1562 Sir John Hawkins a British privateer makes the first known British Slaving trip to Africa. He was born in Plymouth
1558 Queen Elizabeth1 coronation
1564-5 Hawkins makes Second ‘slave hunting’ voyage with ship loaned for the purpose by Queen Elizabeth I
1588 Spanish Armada  sails against England with the aim to overthrow Elizabeth
1601 Queen Elizabeth I calls by Royal Proclamation for the expulsion of black people ‘blackamoores’ from England
1600 British East India Company receives its charter from Elizabeth I – The company was to become the major force in British imperial expansion in the 17th and 18th centuries.
1603 James I becomes king
1623 St Kitts settled by the British
1625 Charles I becomes king
1625 Island of Barbados claimed for the British Empire
1628 Island of Nevis settled by British
1630 First slave rebellion in an English colony Bristol merchants give credit to early colonists in Caribbean in return for a share in their tobacco crops
1642 First English Civil War with conflict between ‘parliamentarians’ and ‘royalists’
1649 Charles I is beheaded and Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord protector of the commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.
1652 First coffee house established in Britain
1655 British take Jamaica from the Spanish – Bristol Admiral Sir William Penn in command Slaves on this island who escaped to the mountains-soon came to be known as Maroons
1660 The monarchy is restored and Charles II becomes king
1672 The London-based Royal African Company is established, with a monopoly of British trade to Africa
1657 Juan de Bolas, a Jamaican leader of escaped slaves (‘Maroons’) surrenders to the British but on terms of pardon and freedom. Other Maroons continue to fight British rule
1677 First mention of a Bristol coffee house (in the tenure of John Kimber of High Street)
1679 Slave revolt in Haiti
1685 James II is king
1688 The Bristol ship Society laden with enslaved Africans and ‘elephants teeth’ from Guinea is seized and condemned in Virginia as was the Betty, also of Bristol, for breaking the monopoly of the Royal African Company
1689 William and Mary are formally proclaimed king and queen
1689 Bill of Rights’ is confirmed by an act of parliament
1696 Bristol Society of Merchant Venturers builds the Merchant Venturer’s almshouse for sick and old sailors at the end of King Street
1698 Royal African Company monopoly ended as slave trade open up to private traders
1698 First legal slaving venture out of Bristol with The Beginning carried enslaved people from Africa to Jamaica
1699 80% of Caribbean residents are African slaves
1701 English, Dutch and Austrians sign the Treaty of the Grand Alliance
1702 Queen Anne is throned
1707 Act of Union unite England and Scotland
1708 Colston’s School for boys was started by Edward Colston
1711-13 Bristol Corporation and Society of Merchant Venturers campaign to stop the Royal African Company regaining monopoly status, arguing the importance of the slave trade to Bristol’s economy
1713 Royal African Company regaining monopoly status, arguing the importance of the slave trade to Bristol’s economy
1714 King George I is king
1718 British convicts start being transported to penal colonies overseas Between 1718 and 1776, over 50,000 convicts were transported to Virginia and Maryland in the modern United States. The American Revolution made further transportation impossible.
1719 Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe is published
1720 Enslaved Scipio Africanus dies at Henbury Court, Bristol
1727 King George II comes to the throne
1727 Queen square is completed and named in honour of the previous monarch
1729 Ignatius Sancho , a self educated slave and the first African prose writer in Britain is born.
1729 Britain’s Attorney General Sir Philip Yorke asserts that a slave in England was not automatically free, nor did baptism ‘bestow freedom on him’
1730 Britain becomes the biggest slave trading country: from 1690 to 1807 British ships transport about 2.8 million enslaved Africans
1737 Bristol overtakes London as Englands number one slaving port , with 37 voyages this year
1727 Bristol Royal Infirmary built
1739 Britain declares war on Spain and the ‘War of Jenkins’s Ear’ begins
1745 Birth of Olaudah Equiano . He was the first political leader of England’s black community and wrote the most important surviving black literacy contribution to the campaign for abolition
1747 Liverpool overtakes Bristol as Britain’s premier slaving port, with about 49 voyages a year against Bristol’s average of 20
1750 The African Company of Merchants takes over from the Royal African Company’s with membership of 237 Bristol merchants, 157 London merchants and 89 Liverpool merchants
1750 Major slave revolt aboard the Bristol ship, the King David
1750 Bristol’s first bank, the Bristol Bank, opened by partners Tyndall, Elton, Lloyd, Knox and Hale.
1753 Bristol Corn Exchange is completed
1756-63 Seven Years War between Europe’s major powers. Britain gains Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and Tobago
1759 William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, is born in Hull
1760 King George III is king
1760 Thomas Clarkson, the abolitionist, is born.
1762 Thomas Farr builds Blaise Castle Folly to view his ships coming up the River Avon
1768-1771 Captain James Cook leads his first expedition to the Pacific
1770 French writer Abbé Raynal publishes a work calling for a ‘Black Spartacus’ to arise and avenge slavery which the author calls a crime against nature
1771 Factory Age’ begins with the opening of Britain’s first cotton mill
1772 The Somerset case in London. Chief Justice Lord Mansfield rules that enslaved people in England cannot be forced to return to the West Indies.
1772-1773 John Stedman joins a military expedition to suppress a slave rebellion in Surinam, South America and is appalled by the inhumanity shown to Africans. In 1796 he publishes a full account of his experiences that becomes a classic of abolitionist lite
1774 John Wesley publishes anti-slavery tractThoughts Upon Slavery
1775 American War of Independence begins
1778 House of Commons appoints a Committee to investigate the British slave trade
1781 Americans defeat the British army at Yorktown, Virginia
1781 133 Africans are thrown overboard the slave ship ‘Zong’
1786 Thomas Clarkson’s Essay on Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species is published
1786 Wills tobacco company founded
1787 Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade is formed
1787 Quaker anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson visits Bristol and the Seven Stars pub to try and find out more about Bristol and its involvement in the slave trade
1788 In response to growing concern about conditions in the ‘Middle Passage’ the Dolben Act limits the number of enslaved people a ship is permitted to carry. Even with these restrictions, conditions remain dreadful
1788 Established  poet and playwright, published a poem on Slavery, and joined the campaign to fight for the abolition of the slave trade
1789 French Revolution encourages an insurrection of slaves in Haiti
1790 The Georgian House was built for John Pinney
1791 Parliament rejects William Wilberforce’s bill to abolish the slave trade
1792 Sierra Leone is established under British rule as a home for former slaves
1793 British troops attempt to suppress Toussaint L’Ouverture’s rebellion in Haiti
1794 French Revolutionary Government outlaws slavery
1794 Second Maroon war in Jamaica
1795 First British West Indian Regiments raised consisting of Black soldiers led by White officers
1796 Blaise Castle House is built for Merchant John Harford
1798 Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of African slaves, wins full control of Haiti Kofi’s rebellion a small uprising in Jamaica
1800 Napoleon sends in troops to re-establish slavery in the French Caribbean Gabriel Prosser leads a slave rebellion in Virginia
1801 L’Ouverture is captured and brought to France where he is imprisoned and dies Haiti retains independence but under increasingly authoritarian rulers.
1803 Last slave ship voyage out of Bristol
1804 Saint Domingue becomes an independent republic named Haiti
1807 Britain abolishes the slave trade
1808 British West Africa Squadron is formed to suppress slave trading
1808 USA abolishes the slave trade (the buying and selling of enslaved people)
1815 Slave rebellion in Jamaica
1817 African company of Merchants sign treaty with Ashanti recognising their sovereignty over African coastal areas
1816 Bussa’s Rebellion in Barbados
1820 King George IV assumes the throne
1822 Britain’s attention turns to the emancipation of the slaves in British colonies
1823 Slave rebellions in Jamaica and Demerara (now Guyana
1823 Anti-Slavery Committee formed in London to campaign for total abolition of slavery.
1823 1st Anglo-Ashanti War
1830 King William IV is king
1830 The Bristol Riots
1831 Major slave revolt called ‘The Baptists’ War’ breaks out in Jamaica, led by Baptist preacher Sam Sharpe, and is brutally suppressed.
1831 Slave rebellions in Antigua, Jamaica and Virginia
1831 The History of Mary Prince is published in London and becomes an important part of the anti-slavery literature
1833 Abolition of Slavery Act – Britain abolishes slavery and provides for the emancipation of enslaved people in the British West Indies,
1834 Abolition of Slavery Act comes into force in British Colonies. British plantation owners are awarded £20 million in compensation. Those enslaved are forced to be apprentices for for years in their existing roles on plantations to their existing masters.
1837 Queen Victoria comes to the throne after the death of William IV
1838 Period of apprenticeship ends for the former slaves. Indentured labour is transported to the Caribbean from other parts of the empire including India, China and Africa
1863 2nd Anglo-Ashanti War
1873-74 3rd Anglo Ashanti
1895 Statue of Sir Edward Colston is unveiled in Bristol