Slavery Abolition Act 1833
Houses of Parliament, Palace of Westminster, London.
common law of England did not recognize anyone as a
slave (although in Scotland, which does not have the
common law, bondage still existed until the late
eighteenth century, when it was abolished by
legislation). Slavery, however, existed in a
number of British colonies, principally in the West
Slavery Abolition Bill 1833 was passed by the House of
Commons and by the House of Lords.
Majesty King William IV,
who gave his Royal Assent to the Bill.
received the Royal Assent (which means it became law) on
29 August 1833 and came into force on 1 August
1834. On that date slavery was abolished
throughout the vast British Empire.
Act automatically applied as new possessions
(principally in Africa) subsequently became part of the
were a number of exceptions.
its application to the Colony of the Cape of Good
Hope (now the Cape Province of the Republic of South
Africa) was delayed for 4 months and its application to
the Colony of Mauritius (now the Republic of Mauritius)
was delayed for 6 months.
section 64 excluded Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), St Helena
and the territories in the possession of The Honourable
East India Company, namely in British India, but the
section was subsequently repealed. The
Honourable East India Company, in theory, administered
large parts of India as an agent for the Mogul Emperor
Subsequently, section 1 of 5 & 6 Vict c 101 was
enacted which prohibited certain officers of The
Honourable East India Company from being involved in the
purchase of slaves, but it did not actually abolish
slavery in India.
It was the provisions of the Indian Penal Code
1860 which effectively abolished slavery in India by
making the enslavement of human beings a criminal
Purposes of the Act
The purposes of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833
were described in the preamble to the Bill as:
abolition of slavery throughout the British
promoting the industry of the manumitted
compensating the persons hitherto entitled to
the services of such slaves”.
second purpose was achieved by providing for a
period of apprenticeship.
third purpose was achieved by appropriating £20
million — a huge sum in those days — to
compensate slave owners.
to other sites also dealing with the abolition of
slavery in the British Empire:
campaign against slavery
Thomas Fowell Buxton (1786-1846)
Trade Act 1807
Trade Act 1824
Trade Act 1843
to pages dealing with the abolition of slavery in the
Amendment to the Bill of Rights
to pages dealing with the abolition of slavery in other
to other pages dealing with slavery:
slavery still exist?