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General History

History > General History > Greek Slaves at Tunis in 1823.

History > General History

submitted by Kytherian Historical Record on 24.02.2007

Greek Slaves at Tunis in 1823.

The question of Kytherian slavery is seared deeply into the consciousness of most knowlegeable Kytherians.

The surname SKLAVOS (slave) is a common Kytherian surname. The name is a reminder (perhaps a memorial?) of an unconscionable practice that persisted throughout most of Kythera's history.

British humanitarians who had incorporated the abolition of slavery into their conception of Christianity, labored successfully to outlaw the British slave trade. This Bill passed the British Parliament in 1807. [Yes. Australia was founded in 1788, under a regime which sanctioned slavery!]

These British humanitarians, especially William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Zachary Macaulay, and Lord Brougham (Henry Peter Brougham), continued to work for the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire, which was finally effected with the Abolition Act of 1833.

The Kytherian slave trade ceased with the of instigation of British rule in 1815. The British occupied Kythera until Greek Independence in 1864.

As outlined in the article below the Greek "slave" trade was temporarily re-instituted by the Bey of Tunis in 1823.

Greek Slaves at Tunis in 1823

Thos. Maitland, G. Davies

The English Historical Review, Vol. 34, No. 133 (Jan., 1919), pp. 84-89

One consequence of the war of Greek independence was the revival of the slave trade in the Mediterranean by the Bey of Tunis, directly contrary to the provisions of the treaty he had signed with Lord Exmouth in 1816. The English government determined to suppress this traffic in Greek women and children — the men were massacred by the Turks — and directed Sir Thomas Maitland, governor of Malta and commander of the forces in the Mediterranean, to take the necessary measures. The negotia­tions with the Bey of Tunis are set forth in the following docu­ments. They are transcribed from the papers of Henry, third Earl Bathurst, secretary of state for war and the colonies in Lord Liverpool’s administration, now preserved at Cirencester Park, in the possession of the present Earl Bathurst, who most kindly allowed me to inspect his papers.

I. Instructions to Commissioners to proceed to Tunis

Palace Malta,

3 April 1823.


Having received from his Majesty’s government the most pointed and direct orders relative to the general abolition of the Slave Trade, and especially of that traffic of Christian slaves made during the present calamitous warfare in Greece and carried into the Barbary States, I have after the most mature consideration decided to appoint a Commission consisting as follows, viz. Colonel the Honble. Fredk. C. Ponsonby, Captain William W. M. Clifford, commanding his Majesty’s ship Euryalus, and John Stuart Hippisley Esquire - to carry into effect the purport of the following Instructions.....[1]

I hold it to be totally out of the question that we could ever gain anything by stating the broad principle of action upon the occasion. But I think by bringing it under what we have a right to demand, and what I

[1] A list of documents supplied to the commissioners is here omitted.

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