Joseph Wragg

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Joseph Wragg
Chesterfield, England
Died1751 (aged 52–53)
OccupationSlave trader
Spouse(s)Judith DuBose

Joseph Wragg (1698 – 1751) was an English-born American slave trader and politician from Charles Town in the British colony of Carolina. He was one of the pioneers of the large-scale Atlantic slave trade in the British colonies in North America in the 18th century and the predominant British North American slave transporter and trader in the 1730s.


His wife Judith DuBose

Born in Chesterfield, England to a family of Welsh origin, he and his brother Samuel Wragg were merchants in London before they moved to Charles Town in the Province of Carolina, where both became high-volume slave traders. Initially Joseph Wragg sailed himself as a captain of slave ships.

His daughter Elizabeth Wragg, wife of Peter Manigault, the wealthiest man in the British North American colonies

From the 1720s Wragg and Benjamin Savage were the predominant British North American slave transporters and traders, and they were among the first colonial merchants and ship owners to specialize in slave trading.[1] Between 1717 and 1744 Wragg and Savage accounted for 36 slave ships and the importation of around 10,000 African slaves. Wragg's name appears 25 times in minutes of the Royal African Company concerning shipments of slaves from The Gambia between 1722 and 1727.[2] Kay Wright Lewis describes him as "a Londoner and leading slave dealer."[3] By the 1730s Joseph and Samuel Wragg were the first independent slave traders to break through the monopoly of the Royal African Company and were responsible for the first large influx of slaves to Charles Town.[4] Henry Lieferman notes that "during the 1730s, for example, nearly 20,000 slaves, most of them from Angola, were imported through the city, almost a third of them by Joseph Wragg & Co., the biggest slave trader in town."[5] For example, on 15 March 1738 Joseph Wragg & Co. sold 179 adults and 175 children taken from Angola aboard the slave ship "Shepherd."[6]

Both Joseph and Samuel Wragg served in the Executive Council after the Crown purchased Carolina from the Lords Proprietors.

Joseph Wragg was married to Judith DuBose, the daughter of French Huguenot immigrants; her father Jacques (James) DuBose owned a large plantation near Charles Town.[7] His brother Samuel Wragg was married to Judith's sister Marie DuBose; Samuel and his son were taken hostage by the pirate Blackbeard in 1718, and Samuel Wragg then negotiated on behalf of the government of Charles Town and agreed to send medicine to the Republic of Pirates in Nassau, Bahamas.[8]

Joseph Wragg's daughter Elizabeth was married to Peter Manigault, the wealthiest man in the British North American colonies by the 1770s. Another daughter, Mary, was married to the slave trader Benjamin Smith.

Joseph Wragg has numerous descendants who were prominent in American society as businesspeople, lawyers, and politicians. Among his descendants is Ursula von der Leyen.


  1. ^ Jon Butler, Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776, p. 38, 2000
  2. ^ The South Carolina Slavocracy
  3. ^ A Curse upon the Nation: Race, Freedom, and Extermination in America and the Atlantic World, p. 42, University of Georgia Press
  4. ^ Pamela Chase Hain, A Confederate Chronicle: The Life of a Civil War Survivor, p. 2, 2005
  5. ^ Henry Lieferman, South Carolina, p. 116, 1997
  6. ^ Bristol, Africa and the Eighteenth-century Slave Trade to America, p. 87
  7. ^ Harriette Kershaw Leiding, Historic Houses of South Carolina, p. 54
  8. ^