In the late 18th and early 19th century merchants in Greenock made their fortune through their connections with slavery. Within Greenock Cemeteries there are memorials to these merchants. Members of Parliament, Provosts and prominent citizens of the town made their fortunes from the use of slaves. Some were owners of plantations or owned slaves in the Caribbean others benefitted from the cheap goods. In 1807 the right to trade slaves i.e. the buying and selling of slaves was abolished. In 1837 the right to own slaves was abolished with the Slave Compensation Act becoming law on 23 December 1837. Although technically freed the former slaves had to serve an apprenticeship with their former owners working for low wages and sometimes in terrible conditions. Merchants in Greenock claimed and received compensation for the loss of their slaves.
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