An Irish slave in Antigua

“Mulatto Jack” was an Irishman kidnapped in Ireland and sold into perpetual slavery in Antigua. Sixteen years later he was imprisoned as a suspect during a slave conspiracy in 1736.

What does his plight tell us about Ireland’s historical relationship with the Black Atlantic?

Cutting the Sugar-Cane by William Clark (Delap Estate, Antigua, 1823) The Delaps were an Irish Presbyterian family, a branch of the Scottish Dunlop family who settled in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Ireland around 1600. Robert Delap, the grandson of Antiguan planter Francis Delap, was the deputy provost marshal during the slave conspiracy executions in Antigua of 1736 and was in charge of purchasing the firewood that was used to burn to death 77 enslaved people.

The discovery of an “Irish slave”

“…was brought before us as a criminal slave concerned in the plot, but he alleged that he was free born in Ireland and stolen thence and sold here as a slave. We think he proved his allegation, and we submit it to the legislature whether this mitigates his crime.”

The Island of Antego by Herman Moll (1736) Credit: Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection, Boston Public Library

Jack’s case highlights aspects of Ireland’s relationship with the Black Atlantic

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