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Edwards, Bryan

Bryan Edwards (1743-1800) was a British politician, merchant, planter, slave-owner and historian of the British West Indies; his Jamaican plantations were inherited from his uncle, Zakary Bayly. Best known for his "History, Civil and Commercial, of The British Colonies in the West Indies"; the London edition published by John Stockdale featured maps of a number of Caribbean islands including Barbados, St Kitts, Jamaica, Antigua & the British Virgin Islands. While frequently characterised as a defender of slavery, his position was somewhat more nuanced: "nothing is more certain than that the Slave Trade may be very wicked, and the planters themselves very innocent". While this is clearly a self-serving view, he did recogise the horrors of slavery, lament the original establishment of the trade, and provide us with some insight into the issues that at the time were perceived as obstacles to its abolition and to the emancipation of slaves. Dr Karina Williamson of the University of Edinburgh maintains a public website which provides an account of his life and career.