Memory of Cornish coast dwellers kidnapped for slavery ‘culturally erased’

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I am not the only one who keeps reminding people of this part of our history. From the Telegraph

The memory of thousands of Cornish people who were kidnapped and sold into slavery has been “culturally erased”, campaigners have said.

Academics are trying to revive knowledge about pirates from the Barbary coast in North Africa who terrorised West Country maritime communities during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Also known as the Barbary corsairs, the seafarers targeted settlements across the western Mediterranean and Atlantic European coasts until they were finally suppressed for good in 1830.

Historians say Cornish records reveal family members pleading for ransom money to buy their loved-ones back.

Professor Jo Esra, from the University of Exeter, said the piracy was an “incredibly significant” aspect of the history of the South West. “There’s an element that it has been culturally erased in some way,” she told the BBC.“This was an aspect of history that impacted enormously on those ordinary, maritime communities. They were the ones that were enslaved and they were the ones that were taken, they were the communities that were decimated, through the activities of the barbary pirates.”

The Barbary pirates operated primarily from Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and Rabat and occasionally sailed as far as Iceland to capture slaves, which they then traded in North African slave markets.

As well as raiding coastal towns, they also capture thousands of ships over almost two centuries.

Every time I attend the Museum of Docklands in East London I leave a note on the ‘tribute wall’ of the Slavery Gallery (Atlantic black trade only) reminding visitors and curators of the Barbary Coast trade in white Englishmen and women (and Irish, and probably Welsh). (On the other hand, to the museum’s credit, their section on the Blitz on east London and the clearances of the Isle of Dogs to transform it into ‘Docklands’ is excellent.)

2 Responses

  1. The pirates enslaved Irish folk, too, taking away most of the residence of Baltimore, Cork.

    Cervantes was enslaved, too, after his return from participating in the Battle of LePanto and served 5 years as a Muslim slave until the ransom was paid.

  2. Is there any history of where these people, in England and Ireland were captured, were taken or how long they were enslaved? The article indicated they were sold to muslums but that generalizes the whole N African and Arab regions.

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