Richard Earlom after Sir Joshua Reynolds.
The Honourable Samuel Barrington, Vice Admiral of the Blue and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Ships at the Reduction of. St. Lucia
10¾ x 14¾ inches
Behind this rather gentle looking portrait of vice Admiral Barrington and the heroic derring-do that he represents there lies a link to an altogether less savoury aspect of our period. Barrington has taken command of the British Leeward Islands and just repelled the French fleet in a valiant skirmish in St. Lucia. So far, so good. The reason the islands are so hotly fought over is sugar and the reason the sugar trade is so lucrative is that it depends upon the horrific abuse of slaves transported across the seas from Africa. Despite the Slave Trade Act of 1807, slavery remained legal across much of the empire until 1833 when, at last, the Slavery Abolition Act finally brought an end to this shameful practice. Barrington was known to be cheerful, courageous and enterprising and there is nothing to say he was complicit in slavery but, like so many who were around at the time, whether he was complicit or not, he was part of the culture that prospered from its consequences and facilitated its continuation.£650