Irish Slavery & So-called Myths

my mother, mary kate mitchell, from sligo, told me stories like the following essay,  She  also confided in me: the cruelty she and her sister Bridget (my Godmother) endured from the black adn tans when she was a teenager, circ 1915. After my mother's death, my Unclel Michael, aka Maick the Sarge, (my mothers oldest brother) confirmed the story. Also my first cousin, Thomas Mitchell, now a successful contractor in Dublin, took me to the flower garden on Kilmaccannon Road, about a mile west of the Mitchell homestead, to the palce where my molther and her sister, Bridget were attacked.  There is more to this story which i will not share.

The following story is apparently controversial, at least to one of my grandsons.  But I for one, as a student of Irish culture and Black Slavery believe the story. 

i hope some of the poverty pimps get a chance to read this.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children aged 10 to 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia.

Still 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers. Many people today avoid calling the Irish slaves called what they really were: Slaves. They use words such as "indentured servants" to describe what happened to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

The Irish Slave Trade – The Forgotten “White” Slaves The Slaves That Time Forgot.

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children. Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment.

They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives. We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade. But, are we talking about African slavery? King James II and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor. The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.

By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves. Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white. From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well. During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers. Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish.

However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle. As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts. African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude. In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion.

These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves. This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company. England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia.

There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat. There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry. In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong. Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories. But, where has this ever been taught in our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are stories of Irish Slavery in the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed? Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer? Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened. None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal.

These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books-conveniently forgot-By John Martin


I fear that this email you sent will be taken literally, and people will not realize a lot of the misinformation it includes and that the source, John Martin, has been discredited numerous times.

I agree that Irish people faced oppression from the British in Ireland and from others when they arrived in what is/would become the US. They were certainly placed in indentured servitude, and treated as second class citizens. However, there was never the laws put in place to have their “slavery” be hereditary, not considered fully human, or other issues which affected African salves.

I also believe that the lines in your email about this not being included in history books as some sort fo conspiracy theory to be quite alarming. There is not the historical record to back up the claims, and justify it being included in history books. The claims that there were white “slaves” is also a claim used by Confederate sympathizers to make it seem that what we did to African slaves was not that bad. The United States has treated many minorities and new immigrants very badly, but the African slave experience was especially terrible, and this emails comparison or the two is alarming to me.

Please feel free to read some of my sources below if you are interested.


nana and i believe slavery is pure evil
we have two cousins in ireland, more like uncles. who died in british prisons, both unamed.  actually, one dies of starvation in prison, which attacted world attention, and the other was released, a broken man, and died in Dunfore, St Patricks parish, within walking distance of the Mitchell homestead in Clogboley.
our grandfather, ole tom, was a serf picking potatoes for protestants for pennies  (the siggins family) for 55 years.
nana and i spent 6 weeks in africa with martin klein, prof of african history, 8 books, from u of toronto
the slaves in america prospered
the indentured, serfs, and slaves in ireland suffered unmercifully from cromwell and later penal codes
the links you provided are not relevant, because some of the talk about irish slavery in america is indeed mythical.
but i guess it is ok to mince words (lsavery vs indentured servants), like the nytimes reported (in your link about the irish):  "Without a doubt, life was bad for indentured servants. They were often treated brutally. Not all of them entered servitude willingly. Some were political prisoners. Some were children."

i know a lot about slavery in america and in ireland
the irish suffered unmercifully, while the africans prospered in america
388,000 african slaves entered NORTH AMERICA out of 14 million enslaved
and the 388,000 increased by more than 10 fold by the emancipation proclamation circ 1860+
there are no black populations remaining from the 14 million enslaved except in the usa.

when i find my notes, i will expand on this so called myth.

Brophy Friday 29 June 2018 - 5:19 pm | | Brophy Blog

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