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The transatlantic slave trade

From 1640 to the early 19th century, an estimated 3.2 million enslaved African people were transported by Britain’s vast shipping industry. Lloyd’s was the global centre for insuring that industry. 

We are deeply sorry for the Lloyd’s market’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade. It is part of our shared history that caused enormous suffering and continues to have a negative impact on Black and ethnically diverse communities today.

A journey of reflection

Prompted by the anti-racist activism of Black people and allies following the murder of George Floyd, Lloyd’s has been on a journey of research and reflection to acknowledge our historical connections to slavery and the lack of ethnic representation that still exists in the Lloyd’s market today.

We held a number of conversations with Black and ethnically diverse colleagues. We had some honest conversations with our Black and ethnically diverse colleagues, in both the Corporation and the market, about Lloyd’s history, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and their experiences. The views of those colleagues have been compiled into a video and we are grateful for their insights.

We also facilitated a series of Conversations between Black or ethnically diverse colleagues and white allies, exploring their lived experience and the legacy of enslavement. Each conversation uses an item from the Lloyd's Collection as the starting point for an anonymous conversation. The items were chosen to align with colleagues’ specific ancestry or selected by colleagues themselves.

Our research

We have undertaken several pieces of research to understand and contextualise our history.

This includes an independent research collaboration with Black Beyond Data, based at Johns Hopkins University, to examine items in our Collection with significant connections to slavery in order to contextualise Lloyd’s institutional role. The work is editorially and financially independent from Lloyd’s, funded solely by the Mellon Foundation. The research was published as a digital exhibit in November 2023.

Dr Alexandre White, who is leading this project at Black Beyond Data, said:

“This project seeks to serve as a critical site from which to consider how to read and witness historical objects produced in the service of slavery in ways that complicate the narratives put forward by their creators.

In doing so this digital exhibit will serve to complicate and consider how insurance agreements pertaining to slavery and books containing references to dozens of insured slaving voyages dehumanize those quantified and numbered on their pages…

These histories are painful, and their continued erasure in public discourse limits our ability to reckon with these pasts. This project will contribute… to grappling with these histories and their legacies.”
Dr Alexandre White

Learning from our past

Read more about our research into our historical links to the transatlantic slave trade and how we are responding to our past

Below are some of our other pieces of research into our past.

Lloyd’s, marine insurance and slavery

We are grateful for the work of many academics who continue to research this issue. Dr Nicholas Draper has written an article on Lloyd’s, marine insurance and slavery which outlines the key facts on this subject.

John Julius Angerstein

We have set up a Working Party made up of academics, curators and representatives from the Corporation and the market to support us in our investigation of the role of one of our most prominent members of the period, John Julius Angerstein (1735-1823). Angerstein was a beneficiary of slavery from his marine insurance work and was a trustee of estates in Granada which held several hundred enslaved people. Read the findings from our research.

Our 1771 founders

This research project brings together data that helps us to understand and acknowledge the role of transatlantic slavery through significant members of Lloyd’s history. It traces the links to the slave trade, the wider slave economy and slave-ownership of the founding subscribers of Lloyd’s New Coffee House.

Responding to our past

As we further examine Lloyd’s connections to slavery, we will continue to make our findings public, and will ensure that an honest account of our role in the slave trade is a part of the story we tell about Lloyd’s.

We also recognise that the legacy of slavery continues, evident in the racial inequality that persists to this day.

In November 2023, we launched Inclusive Futures: a programme of initiatives to respond to the legacy of slavery by helping Black and ethnically diverse individuals progress from the classroom to the boardroom.

Sir Frank Bowling

We are prominently displaying Sir Frank Bowling’s work ‘Empire Day Picture’, in the Lloyd’s Building in London, which encapsulates his ancestors journey through enslavement and empire to his own inspiring story of becoming one of the world’s leading painters.

Lloyd’s Corporate Archive

Lloyd’s Corporate Archive is freely accessible to the public. The catalogue of our Corporate Archive is available at the London Metropolitan Archives. Most of the collection dates from 1771, with some deeds dating back to 1585. Please note that the Captains’ Registers are held at London Metropolitan Archives and the rest of the archive is available at the Guildhall Library.