Sugar in Britain

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  • Intro

    This book from 1715 entitled ‘A Vindication of Sugars’, argues that sugar is good for you.  Dr Slare was a sugar fanatic, adding it to his wine, using it as snuff and even as a toothpaste. This page contains one of his case studies - the Duke of Beaufort supposedly lived to a ripe old age by eating large quantities of sweets after dinner every night for at least 40 years.

     

    Books such as these hint at the vast amount of sugar that was being imported to Britain at this time: sugar consumption in Britain doubled between 1690 and 1740. But the increase in luxuries, such as sugar, had a darker side. Imports of raw cotton, sugar, rum and tobacco for example - that were shipped by the tonne into prosperous British ports like Bristol, Liverpool and London - all originated in the plantations of South America and the Caribbean, where merchants depended heavily on the labour of African slaves. As the demand for sugar increased, so did the number of slaves. Over the course of the 1700s around 11 million slaves were exported by European merchants from Africa to the slave colonies. The expansion of the transatlantic slave trade was, therefore, directly related to the growth of British consumption of sugar.

     

    Shelfmark: 778e.5

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