No records have been found to suggest that Black people lived in Okehampton. However, evidence of reparations reveal that Okehampton citizens invested in, and profited from, the transatlantic slave trade.
There are few connections between Okehampton and the slave trade, but records do indicate that local people who had invested in the transatlantic slave trade were given reparations after abolition.
This includes dignitaries such as John Campbell, politician and courtier, elected Member of Parliament for Okehampton, 1820-26, who was awarded compensation of £6630 5s 6d for 379 enslaved people on the Hope Estate (plantation) in St Andrew, Jamaica on 25 July 1836 (Legacies of Slave Trade database).
Records also show that Elizabeth Thornhill Hinds then Howell (nee Rock), who was born in Barbados but who was living with her daughters at Rectory House in Okehampton, registered 39 enslaved persons in 1834, and profited from an award of £798 0s 2d in compensation after slaves were freed.
“Am I not a man and a brother?”
This image of the enchained African beseeching the, presumably, white audience to recognise his humanity was a powerful symbol in the Abolitionist movement. However, today we recognise that enslaved people played an active part in their liberation through resistance and rebellion on the plantations as well as in speaking and writing of their experiences of slavery to a British audience. The image gives an exclusively passive view of enslaved Africans and so we consider that it is no longer appropriate to use it to represent their movement towards Emancipation.