Hayward Letters Available Online

In 2011 the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA) was gifted a series of correspondence between the members of the Hayward Family from the plantation ‘Pieterszorg’ in Surinam (alternate spelling “Suriname”) to Bristol and London in England and Rotterdam and Amsterdam in Holland. The correspondence primarily concerns the family business in the production and trade of sugar and coffee and the related slave trade between 1799 and 1851.
Combined with the extensive Bright Family papers, which document plantations, trade and slavery in the Caribbean, the Hayward letters add to what is becoming an important collection of Atlantic studies research material at the University of Melbourne, unparalleled in Australia. Of particular interest is the fact that the Hayward collection spans the period after the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire (1807) but continued under Dutch colonial rule in Surinam (and elsewhere in the Dutch colonies) until 1863. These letters also shed light on significant events such as the slave revolt in Barbados on 14 April 1816, and the effect of the Napoleonic wars on trade prices. Also revealed is the anxiety at the likely effect on business in the West Indies, if the Dutch should follow the English regarding the abolition of slavery.

Contributor: Denise Driver, University of Melbourne Archives

This internationally significant collection has been digitised and is now available for viewing at the University’s Digital Repository ‘Hayward Family Papers ‘Correspondence relating to ‘Pieterszorg’ Plantation, Surinam’ (2011.0031)

The Hayward letters in addition to the Bright papers provided students with unique primary sources in the University of Melbourne’s free Coursera online subject ‘Generating the Wealth of Nations‘ run by Jeff Borland. See the article ‘Slavery archive used in online course‘ published in the ‘Voice’ for more detail about the collection and its connection to the slave trade.

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