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Research project

Rethinking the Decline of the British-Caribbean Planter Class: A Case Study of Simon Taylor of Jamaica 1760-1813

Project overview

The sugar planter Simon Taylor claimed ownership over 2,248 enslaved people in Jamaica. At the point of his death in 1813, he was one of the wealthiest slaveholders ever to have lived in the British empire.

This project conducted by Christer Petley examined Taylor’s rich and expressive letters to understand the aspirations and frustrations of a wealthy and powerful British slaveholder during the Age of Revolution. The letters provide a fascinating insight into the merciless machinery and unpredictable hazards of the Jamaican plantation world; into the ambitions of planters who used the great wealth they extracted from Jamaica to join the ranks of the British elite; and into the impact of wars, revolutions, and fierce political struggles that led, eventually, to the reform of the exploitative slave system that Taylor had helped build.


Lead researcher

Professor Christer Petley

Professor of Atlantic History

Research interests

  • Atlantic History
  • Caribbean History
  • Slavery and Abolition
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