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Today in Labour History

29 November 1781
Slave Ship (fragment) by J.M.W. Turner, Wikimedia

Slave Ship "Zong"

In the days following 29 November 1781, the crew of the British slave ship "Zong" massacred around 130 enslaved Africans by throwing them into the sea to drown. The slave-trading syndicate had taken out insurance on the lives of the slaves and the owners of the Zong could now made a claim to their insurers for the loss of the slaves, thus increasing their profits. The massacre has been looked at largely in terms of insurance law and the commercial logic of the British slave trade.

In an IRSH research article (Vol 57 part 3, December 2012), Jeremy Krikler gives due weight to the overriding concerns of commerce in the Zong atrocity.  But he also explains it in terms of the culture and context of the selection of captives for the slave trade, a process in which ship’s surgeons were prominent.

More info: Summary of Jeremy Krikler, A Chain of Murder in the Slave Trade