Talk: The impact of transatlantic slavery on public and private finance in Britain

Attend our free hybrid talk by Professor Pat Hudson exploring the impact of transatlantic slavery on public and private finance

About the event

Talk: by Pat Hudson

When: Thursday 19 October 2023, 6.15pm to 7.15pm (doors open at 6pm).

This talk is now fully booked. Keep an eye on our What’s On page for upcoming events.


In the summer of 2020, when the statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol, the Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing, and many institutions were questioning their historic links to slavery, the absence of an up-to-date, accessible study of the place of slavery in British economic history became apparent. Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution (Polity: 2023, jointly authored with Maxine Berg) is an attempt to remedy that absence. 

Pat Hudson’s talk will concentrate upon just one chapter of the book: the impact of transatlantic slavery on public and private finance. It is no accident that the process of state-supported transatlantic expansion and industrial transformation during the long eighteenth century, saw London emerge as the leading provider of financial services for global trade and investment. The expectation and realisation of profits from the trade in enslaved peoples and from the cultivation and importation of plantation products, particularly sugar, underpinned aspects of the evolution of the national debt, fiscal capacity, and the formation of Bank of England policy. Plantation investment and shipping brought innovation in stock and commodity trading, the mortgage and insurance markets, in multiplex financial transfers and in the expansion of commercial credit that integrated provincial merchants, manufacturers and banks with the resources of the London money market. The connection between Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave-system and innovation in the British financial sector is a much-neglected topic in debates about the impact of slavery despite its key important to the later development of the British economy. 

About the speaker

Pat Hudson FBA is Emeritus Professor of Economic History at Cardiff University. She trained at the London School of Economics and the University of York, and held a Chair at the University of Liverpool before arriving at Cardiff in 1997. She has researched and published on industrialisation in Britain and Europe, pre-factory manufacturing, regional and structural change, financial and commercial innovations, the economic history of the textile industry, historical methodology, economic and social inequality. Recent books include The Routledge Handbook of Global Economic History (London: 2016), edited with Francesco Boldizzoni; The Contradictions of Capital in the twenty first Century: the Piketty Opportunity (Newcastle: 2016), edited with Keith Tribe; Reinventing the Economic History of the Industrial Revolution (Montreal: 2020), edited with Kristine Bruland, Anne Gerritsen and Giorgio Riello; and Slavery, Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution (Cambridge 2023), authored with Maxine Berg. 

This page was last updated 13 February 2024