'File 5/193 II (B 38) Slavery in the Gulf'

IOR/R/15/1/226

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The record is made up of 1 volume (233 folios). It was created in 1 Jan 1930-18 Sep 1936. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.

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Content

The majority of the correspondence in the volume relates to Sir George Maxwell's report on slavery in Arabia, submitted to the League of Nations Advisory Committee of Experts on Slavery in around 1936. The file should be read in conjunction with IOR/R/15/1/227, which contains a continuation of correspondence on the subject.

British officials in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. liaised with their colleagues at the Foreign and India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. , to produce reports for Maxwell and the League of Nations Advisory Committee of Experts on Slavery. In January 1936 Maxwell sent questionnaires for completion to British representatives in the Gulf (folio 144). The questionnaire covered information such as size and population of states, and numbers, ethnicity and religion of slaves. Completed copies of the questionnaire from the Political Agents in Kuwait (folios 151, 160) Muscat (folio 153) and Bahrain and the Trucial Coast The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates. (folios 155-58) are included. A letter from Maxwell to Mr Walton at the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. (folios 200-218), written July 1936, describes the political dimensions of the Slavery Committee talks, and the outcome of Maxwell's discussion with Lieutenant-Colonel Percy Loch, Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. Bahrain, about the status of slavery in Bahrain. Included with the letter are two enclosures written by Maxwell, the first regarding Islamic law in relation to slavery, the second on domestic slavery in the Arab region.

Further correspondence in the volume, related to Maxwell's requests for information, takes place between officials from the Foreign Office, and British officials in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. region. A telegram from a Foreign Office official in London, to the British Legation at Jiddah [Jeddah] in January 1935, discussed the political implications of the League of Nations/Maxwell's investigations regarding Saudi Arabia, while Britain's own negotiations with Ibn Saud [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] were ongoing (folios 78-79). A letter sent from the Political Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. to the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. in September 1936 (folio 20-31), pointed out inaccuracies made by Maxwell about slavery in the Gulf, in his letter of July 1936.

Also of note in the file is a letter sent from the Bahrain Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. (Loch) to the Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. (Lieutenant-Colonel Trenchard Fowle) in January 1936, discussing the impact of the global economic depression upon the pearling industry in Bahrain. Loch stated that 'slaves do not ... mind much where they go, so long as they have an owner who feeds and clothes them' and that born slaves 'are anxious to remain as slaves' (folios 130-31). Loch also recalled an anecdote for Fowle, of an old man who produced his manumission certificate to a medical officer. The man got angry when told by the officer that the certificate gave him his freedom, and not as the man insisted, that it proved he was a slave and was entitled to be fed by his owner.

Extent and format
1 volume (233 folios)
Arrangement

Correspondence in the volume has been arranged in chronological order, from earliest at the front of the volume, to latest at the rear. Office notes at the end of the volume (ff 219-227) repeat this chronological ordering.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the inside back cover with 235; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is present in parallel; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled. A previous foliation sequence, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

Written in
English in Latin script
Type
ArchivalFile

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers
Access conditions

Unrestricted

Archive reference
IOR/R/15/1/226
Former external reference(s)
A Series: 5/193 II Confidential Series: B38

History of this record

Date(s)
1 Jan 1930-18 Sep 1936 (CE, Gregorian)
Context of creation

In 1926 the League of Nations issued its Slavery Convention, an international treaty for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade. The Arabian Peninsula was a key area of concern for the panel of experts assembled by the League of Nations to investigate contemporary slavery, who felt that there was an absence of information on the slave trade in the region forthcoming from British officials. During the period in question, it was widely acknowledged that slaves continued to be imported in small numbers into the Arabian interior, from Iranian Makran and British Baluchistan via the Trucial Coast The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates. , and the Horn of Africa via the Red Sea.

Throughout the mid-1930s, the British representative on the League of Nations Advisory Committee of Experts on Slavery, Sir George Maxwell, requested information from India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. and Foreign Office officials in order to ascertain the extent and nature of slavery in the Arabian Peninsula, for presentation to the League of Nations. As British representative, Maxwell himself was under pressure from his colleagues on the Slavery Committee to reveal the extent of slavery in the region, and commit to its abolition.

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'File 5/193 II (B 38) Slavery in the Gulf', British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/1/226, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/node/9372> [accessed 17 October 2019]

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