Black seamen have served on British ships since at least the Tudor period, and by the end of the period of the British slave trade at least three per cent of all crewmen were black. This fascinating book shines new light on an overlooked group of servicemen, examining the work of black sailors in the British merchant marine and Royal Navy - from impressed slaves to free Africans, British West Indians, and African Americans who served on British ships prior to the independence of the American colonies. The book charts the history of seamen of African descent within broader socio-economic and historical contexts, such as the slave trade, and explores the impact of various wars, including the Seven Years War, the Napoleonic Wars and the First and Second World Wars. The voices of black seamen themselves are traced through documents dating back as far as 1547, allowing readers to witness at first hand the testimony of sailors such as Jacques Francis, a diver who took part in the project to reclaim Henry VIII's ship, the Mary Rose, and Olaudah Equiano, who served alongside the teenage Nelson on the Phipps expedition to the Arctic. As Costello shows, seamen of African descent have played a vital role throughout the long history of British seafaring; their experiences, detailed in this groundbreaking study, span the gamut of sorrow and tradgedy, heroism and triumph.
Format: Paperback, 248 pages
Dimensions: 15.5 x 23.2 x 1.5cm
Publisher: Liverpool University Press