Brookes (ship)

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Brooks slave ship plan

The Brooks was a British slave ship of the 18th century that became infamous after prints of her were published in 1788.

An engraving first published in Plymouth in 1788 by the Plymouth chapter of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade depicted the conditions on board the Brooks[1] and has become an iconic image of the inhumanity of the slave trade.

The image portrayed slaves arranged on the ship's lower deck and poop deck, in accordance with the Regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788.[2] The Brooks was reportedly allowed to stow 454 African slaves, by allowing a space of 6 feet (1.8 m) by 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 m) to each man; 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) by 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 m) to each women, and 5 feet (1.5 m) by 1 foot 2 inches (0.36 m) to each child. However, the poster's text alleges that a slave trader confessed that before the Act, the Brooks had carried as many as 609 slaves at one time.[3]

In July 2008, students and staff at Durham University in northeast England were criticized[by whom?][citation needed] for insensitivity when they re-created the image of the Brooks print to draw attention to the atrocities of the middle passage, in an exercise that involved lying on the ground in a manner similar to the slaves arranged on the Brooks.[4][5]


  1. ^ "The Brooks - visualising the transatlantic slave trade". 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  2. ^ "Stowage of the British slave ship "Brooks" under the regulated slave trade act of 1788. [n. p. n. d.]. -- Piece 1 of 1,". An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera. The Library of Congress. Retrieved 22 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Stowage of the British slave ship "Brooks" under the regulated slave trade act of 1789. [n. p. n. d.]. -- Full Text". 
  4. ^ "Palace Green transformed into a slave ship". Durham First. Durham University. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Brooks - visualising the transatlantic slave trade". 1807 Commemorated: The abolition of the aslave trade. Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past. 2007. Retrieved 17 July 2011.