The Great Leviathan, Marquess of Sligo: The Irish ‘Champion of the Slaves’

In-Depth Interview with Anne Chambers


The story of a man who became known as Champion of the Slaves.


From Ireland, England, France, Austria, Greece, Turkey, and Italy to America and the West Indies, overflowing with historic events, from the French Revolution to the Great Irish Famine, Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, spy, sailor, and jailbird, lived life to the absolute limits.

At 21, Howe Peter Browne inherited five titles in the peerage, an estate in the West of Ireland and valuable plantations in Jamaica. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, his early years conformed to the popular image of a ‘regency buck’ in the notorious circle of the Prince Regent, including the company of such profligates as Thomas de Quincey, Lord Byron, John Cam Hobhouse, and Scrope Davies.

In 1816 he married Catherine de Burgh and settled on his estates in West Ireland. He alleviated the desperate circumstances of his tenants and established a cotton and corduroy factory in Westport. As famine engulfed the west of Ireland in 1831, at his own expense, he imported cargos of grain and potatoes, built a hospital and dispensary to care for the sick, and raised money in London for relief and additional public works.

On his appointment as Governor General of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands in 1834, Sligo took on the brutal system of slavery. His objective to establish “a social system absolved forever from the reproach of Slavery,” set him on a bitter collision course with the local planters. He was the first plantation owner to initiate a wage system for black workers and after emancipation, to divide his lands into numerous farms to lease to the former slaves. The planters commenced a campaign of vilification against him in the Jamaican and British press.

Lord Sligo earned an honored place in the history of Jamaica, where he is acknowledged as ‘Champion of the Slaves’ and where the town of Sligoville, the first free slave village in the world, still bears his name.


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Anne Chambers is author of ten biographies, including the best-selling Grace O’Malley – The Biography of Ireland’s Pirate Queen 1530-1603, a historical novel and a collection of short stories. Her latest biography, The Great Leviathan: The Life of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, 1788-1845 was published in 2018. Her books have been translated into many languages and have been the subject of TV and Radio documentaries for Discovery, The Learning Channel, Travel Channel, ABC Australia, BBC, BBC World Service, RTE, and Lyric FM. In 2018 she was awarded the Wild Atlantic Way Words Festival Hall of Fame Award in recognition of her contribution to Ireland’s literary tradition.


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A spy, sailor, jailbird, and Marquess, and champion of #freedom: the historic story of a man who lived life to the absolute limits. We talk with award-winning author Anne Chambers on the first free #slave village in the world | See the Premium Interview



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Grace O'Malley: The Biography of Ireland's Pirate Queen, 1530-1603 is the sole published biographical account of Grace O’Malley, sourced from original manuscript material, both in public and in private domain. For the latter, the author, Anne Chambers, had sole and exclusive access. Much of this material was located and decyphered in its original form (i.e.16th century manuscripts) by the author and is exclusive to her book. Furthermore, the presentation, opinions and analyses in the book are exclusive to the author. The author reserves all her rights in this book. No part of her book may be reproduced or utilised in any form or media, written or oral, or by means digital, electronic or mechanical, including photographic, film, video recording, photocopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system. Permission from the author and publisher must first be obtained to reproduce any part of or quotations from the book. Any transgression in this regard will be addressed. For more information, comments or enquiries please contact: Info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Copyright © 2022.


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