Who the Hell is Edward Colston?

A brief biog of the city’s favourite slave trader brought to you by Channel Zero Bristol


Hat tip: Bristol 2007’s Weblog 

This entry was posted in Abolition 200, Bristol, Merchant Venturers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Who the Hell is Edward Colston?

  1. Bristol2007 says:

    Nice one for the hat tip Bristol Blogger!

    Just to let you know, the girl who made this was only about 15 years old at the time!

    A cultural commentator and media star of the future I reckon.


  2. Archie says:

    lets get on with living for the future and bringing up pieces of history because they controversial today. I agree like any sane person in this world would agree that slavery was and still is a really bad thing but cant we just move on and look forward to what lies ahead.

  3. Bristol2007 says:

    Archie, next you’ll be saying “it’s political correctness gone mad!” Yawn!

    Stop being such an insensative cliche and realise that the past is connected to the present.

    People don’t bring up this history ALL of the time and get on with their everyday lives in the present, BUT, it is still connected to and affects many people’s existence today so that part of history is nothing to forget or ignore either.

    It’s obviously an issue that is not resolved – the cities reverence to Colston by itself is still a huge area of debate – let alone other parts of slavery history.

    I agree we can’t be talking about slavery all the time, and we don’t, but please don’t deny people their voices & opinions either. The double standard in this issue is so stark it’s funny!

  4. thebristolblogger says:

    The problem is if you look at “pieces of history” it doesn’t necessarily show we’re moving on or that we should look forward to what lies ahead.

    Leaving aside the open sore of his involvement in slavery and you still find that Colston was a Merchant Venturer, a businessman, an (absent and appointed) MP and a key component in the mercantile elite that ran Bristol.

    What do you find today? A mercantile elite running the city!

    Like John Savage and Colin Skellett, Merchant Venturers, appointed to the SWRDA that wields a significant amount of power in the city.

    What about our MPs? Steven Williams and Kerry McCarthy – the two most recently elected MPs in the city – both have corporate business backgrounds. Williams was a corporate accountant for Price Waterhouse Cooper; McCarthy was a lawyer working in the corporate banking sector on international transactions.

    And let’s face it both of them, despite keeping Bristol addresses for appearances, are absent MPs pursuing careers in London. Williams is already a front bench Lib Dem spokesman and McCarthy is a PPS – the first rung of government. Bristol serves them rather than them serving Bristol.

    Just today McCarthy refused to sign an Early Day Motion about the Bristol Old Vic because “she had decided not to support early day motions since she had become PPS to government minister Douglas Alexander.”

    Who exactly is she working for? Who was Colston working for? And yes it’s about time we moved on.

    Namier, instead of viewing political history as the deeds of great men, concerned himself with the behaviour of ordinary MPs, revealing a political system of infinite subtlety, with the great majority of MPs simultaneously seeking favours from government and professing their independence, varying permutations of these two attitudes constituting political reality

  5. Jozer says:

    “What do you find today? A mercantuile elite running the City”

    Exactly! The pet ‘community leaders’ (who despite their alleged popularity in their ‘communities’, can’t even get elected to the local council) talk about the MVs like an old boys club whos ancestors were a bit naughtuy, and maybe they should make amends by financing a ‘community centre’, or some patronising tosh like a breakdancing centre. A nice trough for ‘communtiy leader’ & his mates to get their snouts in to (Easton Community Centre, anyone?).

    Wake up! this Mafia are bleeding Bristol dry TODAY, and will carry on as long as they can get away with it. Local politics is a sham. Bristol Labour Party are totally in hock to the MVs. Just read Blogger’s article on the SWRDC killing the Arena, because they wouldn’t have made enough money.

  6. Richard Stevens says:

    Curious coincidence …. packing up belongings for moving house last week & discovered amongst my late West Somerset father’s books which I have inherited ” Edward Colston, The Philanthropist, His Life and Times ” published in 1842. The owner of this particular book was William J.C. Colston & dated “Octr. 1st 1853”.

    Written by Thomas Garrard, the book was edited by Samuel Griffiths Tovey who makes the novel admission in his Preface:

    “For allthe defects in the following pages, the Editor is not responsible. The work has been hurried through the press without due time allowed for considerate corrections. There are so many imperfections for which the Editor is justly culpable;-that he is desirous to exonerate himself from those that do not properly belong to his function.”

    How my father came to possess this tome I can only guess but he was an historian with a particular interest in the Civil War as it affected (and was affected by) the West Country.

    With respect to the slave trade, a scan of the long winded conclusion makes no mention of his involvment …..”His is a virtue that survives all time …. He has cheered the heart of the sorrowful …. dried the tears of the afflicted, and to the houseless thrown desolate upon the wide bleak world, when all earthly hope seemed lost, even in his ashes has he been a comforter.”

  7. Neil Colston says:

    Slave Traders:
    Edward Colston (1636-1721) and John Newton(1725-1807)

    It is difficult and hard for a person to understand a time when it is far from any living memory and so hard to comprehend what we would have done if it were we in their position at a time when life or a sole was as cheap as a loaf of bread and more easily attainable commodity to purchase.
    Edward Colston had commitions to Africa with the blessings of the Royal African Trading Co of 1662 in the infamous Triangle of the trading corporations (East India, French, American and English etc) and traded with tribal leaders, the soles they had captured from neighboring tribes (men, women and children) with more than half expected to be killed in the battle and onslaught of capture of which would have been all, if it was not for the personal greed of Rum and cloth. Sadly they sold their own for personal gain.
    Then shipped in woeful, unspeakable conditions with chains and shackles so heavy as not to prevent escape but inhibit the ability to swim, to the new lands of the Americas to be traded for sugar and molasses to work as slaves on plantations if lucky enough. As to not be in the forty percent that did not endure the journey and perish aboard to be tossed over the side of the ship like wasted peelings from a forgotten and unappreciated meal.

    The sugar and Molasses was then sailed and traded in Bristol and London England for Rum and Cloth- Yes!! Rum and Cloth. For what was the end and beginning of the ongoing trading triangle that the average Brittan ignored, as everyone was a part of a shameless goods and commodity trading of slaves.

    Only people like the slaves them self’s would ever now the true pain personally and physically suffered and endured to their person then shamelessly given a second chance in the new unforgiving world.

    Men like Edward Colston saw the pain inflicted and pleaded for forgiveness in the only means available by searching for redemption from God for their shameful involvements in a dark and hard time in history past buy building Schools for children and Churches or becoming priests and writing hymns ( John Newton 1772 Amazing Grace) that have affected us all in their journey for grace and pardon. The tune is said to be derived from the slaves them self’s upon the journeys haunting the minds of their captors.

    John Newton joined with William Wilberforce and the help of the prim minister of England William Pitt to abolish the trade of soles in 1707, three days before his passing, to be completed by 1737. It was a mammoth task, like abolishing crude oil completely today- a staple commodity that rules the worlds economy.

    Men like Edward Colston and John Newton had a regretful beginning but with the help of other brilliant historical people such as William Wilberforce and William Pitt changed history for the greater good and finally releasing those most courageous souls from the bondage of slavery and the equals that they truly are.
    Slavery is still rife to this day through out the world and I only hope that it all shall soon be laid to rest.
    Neil A Colston (Descendant 2008)

    ps: Dear Richard, I would be honored to read your book about my “Great” Grandfather.
    Kind Regards Neil.

  8. Nicky Allen says:

    I believe that I am also related to Edward Colston – I would like to find out more about my heritage. My grandfathers name was Charles Colston and was a cotton merchant.

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