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American Indians, one-time inhabitants (before being wiped out) of the Greater Antilles island group, including Hispaniola, in the West Indies. Smaller Arawak communities survive in present-day Surinam, French Guiana and Venezuela on mainland South America.


In full, Asiento de negros, meaning literally, “Negroes’ Contract”. An agreement between the Spanish Crown and another individual or sovereign power by which the latter was given monopoly rights to deliver slaves from Africa to Spanish colonies in the Americas. Existing from the early-sixteenth century to the mid-eighteenth century.


Originally a Freeman of a borough or high-ranking citizen. In this context, the burgesses were officials of Plymouth, either elected or appointed.


Group of islands in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of southern Morocco that has been part of Spain since 1479.


Settlement established in a conquered territory, or territory that has come under an outside power's jurisdiction.


One who disagrees with conventional belief and opinion, usually with the Established Church in England.


Island of the Lesser Antilles group in the West Indies, between Guadeloupe to the north and Martinique to the south.


Person awarded the Freedom of a City or Town, usually with certain privileges, in recognition of their achievements or renown.

Gold Coast

Former British colony on Africa's west coast; present-day Ghana.

Guinea (money)

The first gold coin, introduced on 6 February 1663 and originally worth one pound. As the value of gold increased, so did the value of the guinea coin, to as high as thirty shillings. A guinea's value was settled at twenty-one shillings (105 pence), and is still used, most often in horse racing and the trading of horses.

Guinea Coast

Atlantic coastal region in west Africa, including present-day Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, southern Nigeria, western Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

Gulf of Mexico

Area of the Atlantic Ocean encircled by the eastern coast of Mexico; the southern coasts of present-day Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida in America; and Cuba in the Caribbean. The Gulf of Mexico joins the Atlantic Ocean via the Straits of Florida and the Caribbean Sea via the Yukatán Channel.


Island in the West Indies, the second largest after Cuba and now divided between Haiti in the west and the Dominican Republic in the east.


Imperial measurement equal to one hundred and twelve pounds, or eight stones; 50.8 kilograms.

Indentured labour

In this instance, workers on American tobacco plantations during the early- and mid- seventeenth century. These people, typically from the English under-classes, would not have been paid. Plantation owners provided their passage to America, and their food, shelter and clothes as a loan, paid back in labour over an agreed period of years. At the end of the contract, labourers were given their freedom.


Judicial practice of the Roman Catholic Church used to in the struggle against heresy and the practice of opposing traditional Roman Catholic teaching.

Middle passage

Infamous second leg of the triangular slave trade voyage, carrying slaves from Africa to the West Indies and the Americas.

New World

Name for the Americas, dating from the time of European exploration and colonisation during the sixteenth century.

Porto Bello

Also Porto Belo, Portobelo and Puerto Bello. Visited by Columbus in 1502 and established as San Felipe de Portobelo in 1597. This once thriving Spanish colonial port on Panama’s Caribbean coast has declined since the opening of the Panama Canal, and now has a population of less than 5,000.

Privy Council

Committee that privately advises the monarch.


Group of dissenters led by George Fox who disagreed with and broke away from the established church in England during the seventeenth century.

Religious Society of Friends

See Quakers.

San Juan de Ullua

Also San Juan de Ulúa. The port of Veracruz on the east coast of present-day Mexico.


In pre-decimal currency, twenty shillings were equal to one pound. In decimal currency, 5p would equal one shilling.

Slave Codes

Succession of laws passed in the Virginia and Maryland colonies that set down who would or would not be considered a slave, and what rights a slave may or may not be entitled to.

Slave trade triangle

Sailing from England to Africa to trade consumer goods for slaves; then across the Atlantic ocean to the West Indies and the Americas to trade the slaves for other consumer goods brought back to England and sold.

Spanish Main

Caribbean coastal region of mainland South America extending from the Isthmus of Panama to the mouth of the Orinoco River, including present-day Columbia and Venezuela.

Ten Per Cent Act

Under the Ten Per Cent Act (1698) slave ships operating from any English port apart from London, from where the previously monopoly-holding fleet of the Royal African Company sailed, were obliged to pay a ten per cent levy, or tax, on slave cargoes. The Act was repealed and removed from the Statute Book in 1712.

Treaty of Utrecht

Treaty that ended the War of Spanish Succession that determined the heir to the Spanish Crown, signed in March and April 1713 in the Dutch city of Utrecht. On the one side was Spain and France, on the other Great Britain, the United Provinces (the Netherlands) and Savoy (part of present-day France). Among Spain’s (and France’s) many concessions, Great Britain was granted the Asiento.

Triangular slave trade

See Slave trade triangle.

Virgin Isles

Island group in the Caribbean Sea above the Lesser Antilles and to the east of Puerto Rico. The islands' original inhabitants were Arawak Indians, and the first European colonisers were Spanish after Columbus came across the islands in 1493. Columbus called the Islands Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Vírgenes (Saint Ursula and her 11,000 Virgins), shortened to Las Vírgenes. The group is now split between the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands.

Learn more about slavery and abolition and the Plymouth connection:

John Hawkins

Slave Trade Triangle




Slavery and abolition web links

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