Southon called it “a fascinating family archive which includes an array of historically important documents that we believe should be shared to educate further on this subject”.
Leading the archive offered in Farleigh Court Golf Club, Selsdon, at £23,000 (estimate £6000-8000) was a 60-page album of correspondence compiled by prominent abolitionist Samuel Starbuck. Most were copies of letters and printed articles sent to fellow members of the Anti-Slavery Society and politicians.
Most striking was a heavily inscribed copy of Storage of the British Slave Ship Brookes under the Regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788, the infamous print of a slave ship detailing the numbers and conditions of prisoners. Starbuck writes: “This engraving therefore, speaks for itself…for if when 451 Slaves are placed in the different rooms as prisoners of the Ship Brookes, not only the floors and the platforms are entirely covered with bodies, but the bodies actually touch each other how wretched must have been their situations.”
Dating from 1821-29, the album is primarily concerned with the period between 1807 (when trading in slaves aboard British shipping was outlawed) and 1831 when the institution of slavery itself was abolished in the British Empire. Issues of reparations for slave owners are discussed.
Although loyalist members of the family had settled in Milford Haven after independence, the Starbucks had been influential figures in colonial North America.
Emigrating to Massachusetts from Derbyshire in c.1635, Edward and Katherine Starbuck were among the first settlers on Nantucket. Their son Nathaniel Starbuck and Mary Coffin were the first English couple to marry on the island and part of a group of investors who purchased Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew ‘for thirty pound and two beaver hats’ in 1659.
Sold at £8500 was a 35-page manuscript relating to the founding and early history of the island. ‘Particulars of the Purchase and Settlement of the Island of Nantucket’ described events in the territory from c.1640-1792, including a list of residents, plus a detailed history of the family and their genealogy.
From the same period was a group of manuscript family trees relating to the Starbuck, Coffin, Folger and Mayhew families of Nantucket from settlement, one including a mention of one Benjamin Franklin. This lot took £15,000.
All the lots sold to the same US phone bidder.