Escaping Slavery

Liberated Africans

The abolition of slavery in 1834 was not the end to the Turks and Caicos Island’s slave story. From 1808 the British government had outlawed the trade of slaves from Africa. The British captured many slave ships and freed the Africans on board, mostly in Nassau. Between 1831 and 1838, nearly 200 Liberated Africans were moved from Nassau to the Turks Islands to work mostly in the salt industry.

In 1837, 192 survivors of a shipwreck were taken to Nassau to be freed. They had survived the wrecking of the Esperanza, which started its journey from Africa to Cuba with 320 Africans on board and sank off Middle Caicos. Many lives were lost in this tragic journey.

The Trouvadore
There was a happier ending for the Trouvadore. This slave ship wrecked off East Caicos in 1841. Because the ship wrecked after emancipation, the authorities on Grand Turk rescued and freed the Africans and sent the Spanish Crew to Cuba to be prosecuted. All but one of the 193 Africans on board survived the ship wreck. 168 remained in the Turks Islands.These 168 Africans made a big difference to the population of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Their arrival increased the numbers of people living on the islands by around 7%. Because of this big increase and the way the population has grown, it is likely that most Belongers are related by blood or marriage to these survivors – Africans who had been saved from a life of slavery by the fortune of a shipwreck.