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Thomas Daniel


Thomas Daniel, nicknamed 'King of Bristol' was the city's richest and most powerful slave trader, and one of the most powerful in Britain. He was the son of another Thomas Daniel, also a successful sugar merchant and slave trader, who appears in Slaves for the Isabella, greatly admired by Tobias.

Thomas Daniel, 'King of Bristol', who looks so calm and reasonable in this portrait, owned over 8000 enslaved Africans at the point that the British government abolished slavery in 1833. That means he probably owned several times that number over the preceding 30 years, given how many slaves died on the plantations.

​When slavery was abolished, the government paid compensation to the slave traders. Daniel got a staggeringly large pay-out for the loss of his 'property'! It's tricky to work out the figures exactly, but it was probably about £75,000 at the time, which would be over eight and a half million pounds in today's money! That was nowhere near as much as he applied for, either! The government didn't pay all of his claims.

Thomas Daniel © BCC Museum. Looks like a nice enough chap ...

He was Mayor of Bristol and then an Alderman, and Head of the Corporation of Bristol for some time, all of which means that he was a very powerful man. He also had a huge amount of influence in government. He lived an unfairly long life, considering how many thousands of other lives he shortened by enslaving innocent people. He was 93 when he died.

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