The Courts of Cuba

Two years after the signing of the Anglo-Spanish anti-slave trade treaty in 1817, the Havana Slave Trade Commission opened. It would take another five years before the first case was tried at the court. Between 1824 and 1841, the courts in Havana liberated 10,986 people arriving in the Caribbean aboard 44 slave ships from 19 ports of embarkation between Bissau and Luanda. Of this total, 7,913 people remained in Cuba. From 1833 to 1841, over 3,000 Liberated Africans went to the British Caribbean colonies of Trinidad (1,173 individuals), the Bahamas (1,098), British Honduras (484), Grenada (172) and Jamaica (146). All of the trials took place in Havana, where 40 registers were compiled, while one register was made in Nassau in the Bahamas, and one in Port Antonio, Jamaica. Two cases never had registers made in this period.


Between 1824 and 1865, the Havana Slave Trade Commission tried over 100 cases involving over 35,000 individuals. About 80% of these cases resulted in the condemnation of a slave ship, meaning over 27,000 people received emancipation certificates. Many of these people were also resettled to British Caribbean colonies. Over 8,000 people were involved in over 20 cases that did not result in a condemnation. To view a preliminary case list from this court click here.


This sub-section is still under development, but it currently holds digital copies for over 750 documents related to 44 cases between 1824 and 1841. These cases are special because they included registers of Liberated Africans, or Emancipados in Spanish. This section on the Havana Slave Trade Commission will expand in the near future to include the cases after 1841 and the resettlement of people throughout the Caribbean. Read More...