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COVID-19: latest update on how our services are affected and the support available

Nelson Place

Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was Britain's foremost naval commander during the Napoleonic Wars, and was killed in the course of winning a decisive victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. He has been celebrated as a national hero ever since. The wide-ranging naval operations leading up to the battle took Nelson across the Atlantic to the Caribbean in the summer of 1805, and while there he wrote a letter to an old friend, the owner of a Jamaican sugar plantation. Nelson wrote to assure his friend that he would use his seat in the House of Lords to do everything he could to oppose William Wilberforce's campaign to persuade parliament to abolish the slave trade. Nelson had spent much time in the Caribbean during the course of his naval career, had made many friends among the plantation owners, and had married the daughter of one of them. He viewed the slave-based colonial economy as a vital part of British naval strength - import duties on sugar made an important contribution to naval funding.

Ironically, Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, which removed the threat of foreign naval domination, aided the outlawing of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807 (though not slavery itself, which continued until the 1830s), and gave the British Navy the control of the seas which enabled it to suppress sea-borne slave trading world-wide.    

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