Posts Tagged ‘Stapleton’s Estate’

‘Frivolous and Vexatious’: Legal Obstruction to the Official Inquiry into the Deaths of Slaves

August 19, 2015

I’m aware that I haven’t been blogging as much as I should have over the past few weeks. As I’ve explained, I’ve got caught up in other things. I’ve also been too depressed and angry at the government and its smarmy, self-satisfied aristocratic servants that I really haven’t been able to face sitting down at the computer to write about them.

This little piece of historical fact was so telling, that I felt I had to put it up. It shows how little official attitudes towards the deaths of the poor and powerless have changed in certain sections of the establishment since the days of slavery.

I used to do voluntary work in the Empire and Commonwealth Museum when it was here in Bristol, helping to catalogue the materials they had on slavery and the slave trade. One of the official government papers published in 1831 describing the reforms the British government was trying to push through the Caribbean legislatures to improve the conditions for its enslaved peoples contained the official correspondence on cruelty cases in St. Kitt’s and Nevis, and the failure of the islands’ grand jury to convict Walley and Swindell, the manager and attorney of Stapleton’s Estate belonging to Lord Combermere. Walley and Swindell had been prosecuted for the murder of three slaves – Bolam, Davis, and Cousins; the manslaughter of a fourth, Innes, and the maltreatment of three more, Frances, Monmouth and George Tobin. The Grand Jury, however, had thrown these out, declaring them to be ‘frivolous and vexatious’. See the government blue book – House of Commons Papers 1831: The Slave Population 1831.

Sound familiar? I’m afraid it does!

I’ve blogged repeatedly about how Mike over at Vox Political/ Benefits Bloodbath, and the other Left-wing bloggers demanding the release of the government’s stats on the numbers who’ve died after ATOS declared them fit and well have had their requests turned down. And in their case, the government’s excuse had been exactly the same – the requests were vexatious.

Vexatious: That’s how a jury composed of planters and other slave owners in the 1830s Caribbean described their government’s attempts to prosecute two of their members for the murder and abuse of seven human beings, who were denied their freedom as the private property of their owners.

It’s how the DWP under the Gentleman Ranker, Iain Duncan Smith, serving a government led by two aristos, Cameron and Osborne, describe attempts by ordinary citizens to hold them to account for those killed by their policies.

I’ve blogged along with Mike, the Angry Yorkshireman, and so many others, about the way workfare has effectively become a form of slavery. This provides further proof that Cameron, Osborne, IDS and co really are throwbacks to the 19th century slavemasters, jealous of their power of life and death over their workers.

There is one difference, however. In the 19th century even some of the most reactionary of the British Tories could be determined to end slavery. In those cases, the head of the Colonial Office, Viscount Goderich, along with the Chief Justice for Nevis, George Webbe, and Presidents Maxwell of St. Kitt’s and Maynard of Nevis were angered by the failure of prosecution to demand further action and changes to the law in order to prevent further miscarriages of justice. This present Tory crew and their media cheerleaders are determined to do the opposite, and make it even more difficult for ordinary people, the powerless, the disabled, to hold their masters to justice. And if we let them carry on, there will be slavery, real slavery, in 21st century Britain, presided over by a cruel, indifferent and sneering establishment.