Anna Eliza Elletson and Absentee Slave Ownership
Women have remained virtually invisible in the historiography of slavery and absenteeism. However, there were a significant number of female absentees who managed their vast West Indian estates -and those enslaved upon them-from metropolitan Britain. This chapter examines the correspondence of one such slave-owner. Anna Eliza Elletson was a London-based absentee who was heavily involved with the transatlantic management of Hope estate, her Jamaican plantation. The correspondence she sent to her Jamaican attorneys contains detailed discussions of the practicalities of running her estate and provides a unique insight into the mindset of a late eighteenth-century female slave-owner. In analysing the attitudes and behaviour of this particular woman this chapter investigates the extent to which she variously reinforced, subverted and challenged the social mores and gendered assumptions of late eighteenth-century Britain.
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