Professor Sharon Kay Evanshine

History Web Site

Timeline: Slavery in the Cape Colony

Many South Africans are the descendents of slaves brought to the Cape Colony from 1653 until 1822.

1652 Refreshment station established at the Cape, in April, by The Dutch East India Company, based in Amsterdam, to provide for its ships on their voyage to the East. In May the commander, Jan van Riebeeck, requests slave labour.

1653 Abraham van Batavia, the first slave, arrives.

1654 A slaving voyage undertaken from the Cape via Mauritius to Madagascar.

1658 Farms granted to Dutch free burghers (ex-Company soldiers). Secret journey into Dahomey (Benin) brings 228 slaves. Portugese slaver with 500 Angolan slaves captured by the Dutch; 174 landed at the Cape.

1687 Free burghers petition for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1700 Government directive restricting male slaves being brought from the East.

1717 Dutch East India Company ends assisted immigration from Europe.

1719 Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1720 France occupies Mauritius.

1722 Slaving post established at Maputo (Lourenco Marques) by Dutch.

1732 Maputo slave post abandoned due to mutiny.

1745-46 Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1753 Governor Rijk Tulbagh codifies slave law.

1767 Abolition of importation of male slaves from Asia.

1779 Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1784 Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise. Government directive abolishing the importation of male slaves from Asia repeated.

1787 Government directive abolishing the importation of male slaves from Asia repeated again.

1791 Slave trade opened to free enterprise.

1795 British take over the Cape Colony. Torture abolished.

1802 The Dutch regain control of the Cape.

1806 Britain occupies the Cape again.

1807 Britain passes Abolition of Slave Trade Act.

1808 Britain enforces the Abolition of Slave Trade Act, ending the external slave trade. Slaves can now be traded only within the colony.

1813 Fiscal Dennyson codifies the Cape Slave Law.

1822 Last slaves imported, illegally.

1825 Royal Commissionary of Enquiry at the Cape investigates Cape slavery.

1826 Guardian of Slaves appointed. Revolt by Cape slave owners.

1828 Lodge (Company) slaves and Khoi slaves emancipated.

1830 Slave owners have to start keeping a record of punishments.

1833 Emancipation Decree issued in London.

1834 Slavery abolished. Slaves become "apprentices" for four years.

1838 End of slave "apprenticeship".