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Independent researcher @ Independent


Dr Joe Mulhern is a historian of nineteenth-century Anglo-Brazilian relations and an Honorary Fellow of Durham University’s Department of History. He was awarded his PhD from the same institution in 2018 and is currently working on his first book project: British Entanglement with Brazilian Slavery: Masters in Another Empire c. 1822- 1888 to be published by Anthem Press in 2023.

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Afterlives of Slavery


Human Collateral: British Banking and Slavery in Brazil, 1862-1888

For a half century after the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, individual Britons and British enterprises continued to own enslaved people and invest in slavery in Brazil. This paper explores the role of British banking in this process, focusing on the case study of the London and Brazilian Bank, a predecessor institution of Lloyds Banking Group. The bank, established in 1862 by financiers and merchants with links to plantation agriculture in both Brazil and the Caribbean, remained deeply entangled with Brazilian slavery until abolition there in 1888. This paper examines the form and extent of this entanglement, from the use of slave labour on the bank’s own plantation to enforcing the sale of people owned by its debtors. The paper also examines the legality of these practices, in the context of British anti-slavery legislation, and the devastating impacts the bank’s actions could and did have on the lives of the enslaved. Finally, the paper also analyses the bank’s attempts to obfuscate and sanitise these practices, concealing them from shareholders and the wider public in anti-slavery Britain.

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