New ‘Recommended’ Category and some more resources for those researching slave owning ancestors

I have created a new Recommended category because recent posts have resulted in lots of them for books, resources and even a podcast. I was going to try and weave these into longer posts, but I have come to an impasse with the themes I have been exploring in my recent ones, i.e. Skeletons in the closet, Reflections and (possible) Parrallel Project.

With Skeletons in the closet, that’s because I am not sure that I will get any further back with my Russell and Webbe slave owning ancestors from Nevis unless someone else finds some new lead(s). And that’s because it seems like there’s not much in the way of early records about the settlers as a result of various fires, invasions and earthquakes that over the centuries have destroyed a lot of the original documents. When it comes to my reflections on the why of what I am doing on this blog and a (possible) parrallel project based on what I could do with it all, then the next step would be to take one rather than more pondering.

I may come back to both, if I don’t go down another rabbit hole. Either way, I thought I’d share some of what I have been recommended. I have already mentioned Episode 4 of 7 of Radio 4’s Descendants series that Ruth Hecht who I have been in touch participated in. She also recommended Alex Renton’s Blood Legacy: Reckoning With a Family’s Story of Slavery book published last year. I have linked to the preview in Google but there is also a review in The Guardian that might help you decide whether this is one for you.

For reading link to my reflections mentioned above, my friend Ivan Pope ,of Attention Deficity substack infamy, has also recommended Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton. I think it’s being published in March this year, but there’s a review on Salvation South from last week that includes this snippet below:

There’s no book quite like Ancestor Trouble, Maud Newton’s exploration of family, how we define who we are, and how to truly reckon with our pasts. Her genealogical research includes marvellous stories; her exploration of the role of popular genetic websites asks some big questions; and her thinking deeply about what repair means goes in unexpected directions.

There’s also the accompanying America’s Ancestry Craze: Making sense of our family-tree obsession article by Maude Newton in Harpers mag you can read in the meantime.

Coming back to recommended resources for anyone researching slave owning ancestors, Ruth Hecht also introduced me to Christine Eickelmann who’s a research associate at Bristol University. She’s conducting a more scholarly enquiry into the enslaved people on the Mountravers Plantation in Nevis, West Indies (aka Pinney’s Estate). According to this record on the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery (LBS) database, the Pinney family are connected to my Webbe ancestors via a business partnership:

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Recommended listening: Radio 4 Descendants

Following on from recent posts about my slave owning ancestors, I just want to recommend Episode 4 of 7 of Radio 4’s Descendants series. Ruth Hecht who I have been in touch with was one the participants. I found it fascinating on so many levels, and not least being the storytelling approach given the different perspectives involved including both a decendant of slaves and one from those who eslaved them:

It touched upon so many things, including those I have been seeing as part of my research, i.e. how the slave owning families were so connected and how that appears to have been a way of consolidating the vast wealth they had amassed, the close links between industry and those compensated for their slave owning, and how slavery in the UK is never far from home.

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