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Barbary Arabs and English and Irish Slaves The Truth Behind This Hidden History

Nell is fascinated by ancient history, archaeology, and ancestry. Where do we come from? And what makes us who we are today?

White slaves of the Barbary coast Arabs

White slaves of the Barbary coast Arabs

Barbary Slavers

Barbary Slavers

Hidden History

No, you couldn't make it up. The biggest wipeout of history hidden by the UK, USA, and Europe is out there for people to read if only they knew of its existence.

In fact, it runs rather like an Indiana Jones movie. The only difference? This story makes Indiana Jones look as interesting as watching paint dry.

We are talking about white slavery.

Not the Romans back in the dark ages. And no, not the Vikings either.

Between 1580 -1840 approximately. Recent history. Overlapping the black history of slavery. The same time in fact!

This is the Barbary Coast Arab White Slave Trade.

Not on a pick and choose whim where a woman is taken by a hunky Arab, or a white man joins the Arabs to fight the evil Jinn.

No, this is real, and it hits you straight between the eyes.

Towns, burnt to the ground. Slaves in their thousands taken from the ships and towns from England, mainly Cornwall, and Ireland. A few from Wales and Scotland. In fact, for five years the Barbary coast Arabs from Morocco set up camp on Lundy Island in the Bristol channel, and stayed there, taking as many slaves as possible.

But that's not all. There were hundreds of thousands taken from Europe too.

And guess what? Yes, North America too.

White Slaves

White Slaves

White Slaves

Captured in boats and taken to Morocco white slaves

Captured in boats and taken to Morocco white slaves

The White Slaves of the Barbary Coast

So, how did this happen and why don't we know about it?

I am reading a book called White Gold by Giles Milton. It is the forgotten history of millions of white Europeans and Americans snatched from their homes or from their ships and taken in chains to the huge slave markets of North Africa!

They were tortured, starved, beaten, and sold to the highest bidder, and their governments totally ignored them.

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The book contains the first-hand account of a young boy, Thomas Pellow who is captured at the age of 11. He was trapped there for 23 years and wrote his account when he eventually escaped.

Historians tell us that there are no accounts from this time, so it's not worth the telling.


In fact, the majority of European people could read and write back then and many have left accounts after they or one of their families managed to escape.

In the case of Thomas Pellow, he was sold to one of the evilest egotistical madmen of his time.

His name was Sultan Moulay Ishmael.

Sultan Moulay Ismail Barbary Arab slaver

Sultan Moulay Ismail Barbary Arab slaver

Sultan Moulay Ishmael

Sultan Moulay Ishmael ran Meknes one of the largest cities in all of Morocco. For over 70 years he kept hundreds of thousands of white slaves to help build more and more of the city.

And he didn't hold back with his punishments. It was said that if he was wearing yellow, every single slave or even a palace member would be terrified as it showed he was ready to slaughter without thought.

A slave who dropped something on the floor was instantly dispatched by cutting off his head, sometimes being chopped to pieces.

Slaves were kept in a dungeon in their own filth being systematically taken out and beaten, mainly on their feet until their legs were broken.

And this was just for fun.

The woman prisoners were raped and tortured, to try and make them turn to Islam. Many died as Christians.

The British government sent dozens of envoys to visit the Sultan and hand over gold, silver, horses, and so on in exchange for the slaves.

But the sultan would take the gifts and refuse to release the slaves. Many white slaves turned to Islam to save their lives.

But there was one problem with this.

The European governments refused to buy back anyone who had turned Muslim.

Portuguese, Dutch, French, English, and Irish. Thousands all working together in huge slave pits, burnt by lime that was used to make the building walls, tortured, blinded, and beaten.

But that's not all.

The Black Guard

The Black Guard Moroccan Barbary Arabs White Slavery

The Black Guard Moroccan Barbary Arabs White Slavery

The Black Guard

The sickest part of this story is even worse. For at least 2,000 years, the Arabs have taken hundreds of thousands of black slaves from their countries in Africa, mainly from Guinea, and all across the continent.

And they have bred them like cattle. When a child reaches the age of 3, it is taken from its mother and trained to be a guard.

By the time these guards are in their early teens, they are the most terrifying force in all of Morocco. In fact, the sultan was so terrified of them, he wouldn't allow them to be older in case they turned on him.

They were called the Black Guard.

And they were put in charge of keeping the white slaves down. They were worse than the Arabs with their torture of the white slaves. They particularly hated the French slaves, and systematically tortured them, keeping them awake then beating them if they fell asleep while working.

But they weren't immune to the evils of the sultan. One black slave was carrying an umbrella over the head of the sultan when the sultan turned to him and chopped him down for letting the sun get on his face.

Then there was Thomas Pellow.

Irish Slaves from West Cork

Irish Slaves West Cork taken by Muslim Arab Barbary coast.

Irish Slaves West Cork taken by Muslim Arab Barbary coast.

Baltimore West Cork Ireland

One of the most horrific acts of the Barbary coast Arabs was centred on the coastal village of Baltimore West Cork in Ireland.

At 2 am on the 20th of June 1631 over 200 Arabs attacked with muskets, iron bars and burning sticks. Waiting for a signal, they rushed into the cottages and pulled the sleeping families out of their beds.

There were 20 men, 33 women, and 54 children. They were dragged onto the ships and taken back to Algiers, another huge slave post in North Africa.

When they arrived they were taken to slave pens before being paraded naked and chained in front of prospective buyers.

Men were taken for forced labor, women were raped and used as concubines. The children made to convert to Islam and brainwashed ready to become part of the new guard within the Ottoman army.

Thomas Pellow

Barbary coast white slaves. Ottoman corsairs. Thomas Pellow

Barbary coast white slaves. Ottoman corsairs. Thomas Pellow

Thomas Pellow

The most famous of the white slaves from Cornwall England was a young man named Thomas Pellow. Taken at an early age, he describes each stage of his captivity from being taken, meeting the sultan, seeing the horrors, turning to Islam, and meeting the renegades who have a modicum of freedom. Being made to marry a woman of the sultans choice, and then fighting for the sultan on pain of death if he refuses.

Three times he attempted to escape, and only after 25 years he finally managed it.

Many years later, after nearly 400 years of white slavery across Europe, from 1400 onwards, until approximately 1830, the British sent out ships to destroy the Barbary coast Arab stronghold.

And this resulted in the freedom of the white slaves.

But even today, black slavery still lives on in the Arab countries.

Barbary Pirates

Barbary Pirates

Rule Britannia.

I could go on. But I would spoil the book, and it has to be read. As an interesting historical factual report, it is probably one of the most interesting and fascinating books I have ever read.

On a personal level, reading this hidden history, I am appalled at the injustice and imbalance caused by this deliberate whitewash of history.

The damage that it has caused is beyond description. Can you imagine if this was common knowledge? We would be a better and more balanced world.

As the quote in the song goes:

'Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britain never ever ever shall be slaves.'

What a load of arrogant lying despicable rubbish.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Nell Rose


Nell Rose (author) from England on October 21, 2020:

Thanks Red, that was very interesting. Yes I to don't understand why there is so much emphasise on black slavery when white was just as prolific. And of course Native American. I do think we need to see more of white and Native American slavery on tv to balance this up.

Red Heathenry on October 20, 2020:

Actually, it was more than Whites/Caucasians. These were slavers, and they took anyone they could steal, mostly from Southern Europe and Northern Africa. However, yes, this was enslavement of white people. These slavers were just as brutal as many slavers were throughout history.

Another little known and little discussed fact concerns slavery and the Americas. Natives were the first slaves, and they were the first slaves to cross the Atlantic ocean. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade began *in* the West and traveled east. It was the indigenous populations who first made this voyage, and not Africans. Native enslavement is typically (if and when acknowledged) associated with the earlier years of European (usually Spanish) invasion and settlement, but it continued afterward as well.

The treatment of the indigenous peoples was horrendously and nightmarishly brutal, and as far as recorded history goes, I don't think that any other group of human beings were ever treated this grotesquely in the same numbers, not that you can place a value on human lives based on numbers. One life is important, but 3 Million is an awful lot (one account):

My ancestors were enslaved and raped, and to this date, they suffered the largest mass slaughter on North American soil.

I don't understand why people are so focused on African American slavery as compared to any other form of slavery, especially when there is currently ongoing campaigns of genocide in this world. There are many people enslaved to this day. Slaves are allowed in some countries, but they might be called something else. I remember in Houston when a Mid-Eastern diplomat's "maid" escaped from their hotel room and begged for asylum. She was a sex slave. Her owner was a diplomat, and so the government would not grant her asylum and did not arrest the man for slavery. They forced her to go back to the man even though she was terrified of what he would do to her once she returned. Her fear should indicate his barbaric acts toward her. How is the way she lives any less horrible than what an average slave in pre-Civil War America lived? There are hundreds of thousands, if not more, people who currently live in bondage and as property all over the world. They are brutalized and live in squalid circumstance with no health care. They are stolen from their loved ones and given very little and forced to work or perform sexually acts, some which are so disturbing that a normal person cannot even begin to fathom the evilness.

However, I do think it is important to acknowledge the long lasting and devastating toll that slavery has had on African Americans. It's not dissimilar to what other peoples have to endure, even in the US such as Natives and even Eastern Asians, although as a whole, the latter group has done better than a few other populations. Other countries are quite racist to some of their citizens, and caste-type systems are still in place, even if they are considered illegal. I have a friend in Japan who is of a "lesser" demographic, and these people rarely ever have jobs that aren't working with their hands and doing manual labor. There is a caste in India, and these people generally cannot get out of their role as rat catchers, and rats are pretty much all they can afford to eat-rats and whatever else they can catch or dig out of the ground or garbage bins.

I did ramble a bit, but back to the post, I am curious of what happened to the descendants of the slaves of the Barbery Arabs. One account I read said the slavers were Moors. Maybe these are the same. I can't find the original account I read on this topic, but it was a few years ago. I did find that there is another book on the topic, though, if you are interested:

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 10, 2020:

Thanks Umesh, yes sometimes history hides it for whatever reason.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 08, 2020:

Many of us are not aware of these barbaric truths which had happened in the past. Nice article bringing out the things with much clarity. Thanks.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 01, 2020:

Yes I can imagine Lawrence. That's why I get so mad when someone says white slavery didn't exist. Its just that we don't keep bringing it up.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 29, 2020:


I tell them all the time, and the fact that White Slavery still exists.

The anti Slavery league estimates there are still 20 million people in Slavery today!

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 29, 2020:

Over 2 million white Europeans, mainly Cornish and Irish were taken MG. In Europe it went on for a thousand years. More to the point, the Arabs had millions of black slaves too! Thanks for reading.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 29, 2020:

Exactly! Brits were the ones who stopped slavery, and went out on ships to kick the butt of the slave ships. But you can't tell people that, they just don't want to know.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on September 29, 2020:

This is a very nice article but the fact is that white slavery was very much there though on a much smaller scale compared to the slavery of the blacks. A few of the white women were inducted into the harems and at least they could live. In fact, many of the pirates specially kidnapped white girls from the villages of Europe for the Arab harems. There is an excellent novel 'the lustful Turk' on this.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 29, 2020:


Political correctness tries to tell us that, or tell us that Whites were never slaves.

History tells a different story, but the historian who writes the truth better watch out!

By the way, even though Slavery was allowed in the British Empire up until 1832 it was NEVER allowed in Britain, and the trade was banned (and enforced by the Royal Navy) from 1819.

From 1809 onwards the Royal Navy had the authority to board and sieze any ship thought to be carrying slaves.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 29, 2020:

Thanks Lawrence. I just think I mean that some slavery is gone over and over and over, but the English slavery has been deliberately ignored. I will take a look, thanks

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 28, 2020:


It's not so much that the history is 'hidden' but that it gets forgotten, especially when it doesn't fit a political narrative!

One that's NEVER talked about is the slave trade in the Middle ages because it was Muslim Arabs enslaving the Serbs and Eastern Europeans, converting them to Islam and using them as soldiers against the West.

Look up the Mamalukes of Egypt.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 28, 2020:

Thanks Lawrence, no I didn't realize that? I am so fed up of history being hidden. It makes people distrust each other. Thanks

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 25, 2020:


Interesting article. Did you know that the Battle hymn of the US Marines is a direct reference to the White Slave trade and the Barbary Pirates?

"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.

We will fight our country's battles.

On land, in the and the sea."

The second line is a direct reference to the first Barbary war (1805) when the US tried to put a stop to the Barbary Pirates.

Great article.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 17, 2020:

Thanks Dale, sometimes history is hidden and its appalling.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 17, 2020:

This is a genuinely interesting article and a bold idea for one. Congratulations on taking the time to write it for us. Good job!

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 06, 2020:

Thank you Nithya. I believe its not shown or taught as the English back then were so arrogant they believed it would show weakness. I am English and know our history! lol! but this needs to be shown.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 05, 2020:

I shudder to think about the plight of the slaves, imagine being tortured with such barbaric acts. I wonder why such events do not appear in our school history books and see the light of day. The book has got my attention I must read it, thank you for sharing.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 24, 2020:

I know what you mean Flourish, it seems that hiding white slavery is a great way of making us look bad, when in fact we are all equal.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 23, 2020:

This doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Slavery has sadly occurred throughout human history all over the world from ancient Rome to modern day sex trafficking. Indentured servitude is recognized as a form of enslavement and many indentured servants were treated about as well as slaves.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 21, 2020:

Thank you LS, that's exactly what I said too. Thanks for reading.

LS Bailey from Los Angles, CA on August 21, 2020:

Thanks for this information. Just goes to show slavery an evil that has many victims, and doesn't have a skin color preference.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 21, 2020:

Thanks, everyone. Yes this continuous British Imperialism thing is so stupid now we know who the real racists are!

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks Peggy, it is a rivetting book, in fact I may read it again, or get another like it. I can't get enough of it to be honest. I am disgusted Peggy to think its been hidden. Thank you again.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks Fran, its disgusting isn't it? The whole thing white washed. The ironic thing is, I have Irish, mainly Cork dna, English, Cornish, and......Middle east! Funny eh!

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks James, I just cannot stand unfairness. With all the bad blood at the moment, people need to see the truth. Thanks as always.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks Peg, it is the most fascinating book, and one I have never got so angry reading. Well worth the read.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks Devika, yes I think its because we put it in the past, not keep throwing it in peoples faces all the time.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks Bill, sad indeed, and very hypocritical. Thank you as always.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 20, 2020:

There is probably much that we do not learn by reading assigned history books in school. It is amazing that this kind of history is not better known. It sounds like a riveting book to read.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on August 20, 2020:

wow! What a great article even though it is so distressing. Thank you for bringing this to light and I will definitely read the book. Since I am Irish I was aware of the white slavery and the Irish to Barbados, etc. Thanks again.

James A Watkins from Chicago on August 20, 2020:

Thank you for this fabulous and needful article. History has been so slanted by multiculturalists to make Western Civilization the bad guy in everything when in fact it is the greatest thing that ever happened by and to the human race. Bravo on your piece.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on August 20, 2020:

What a fascinating and intriguing account of this dark portion of history. I was ready to buy the book right from the first mention in your article and even more convinced by the time I reached the end. Thanks so much for sharing your insight into a new book for my wish list.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 20, 2020:

Hi Nell this is new to me about White Slavery. I didn't know of the extent of slavery to whites as much as I knew of the Black slavery. Makes me wonder about slavery to tow different races and to be misled by history. A well-written hub!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 20, 2020:

Absolutely nothing surprises me when it comes to man's inhumanity towards man. Thanks for the sad history lesson, Nell.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Hi Marie, thanks for reading.

Marie Flint from Jacksonville, FL USA on August 20, 2020:

Yes, I also remember a lady in my college Social Science class. She announced she had been a "girl" in the South (USA). If I had to classify her genetic makeup, I'd say English or Irish.

I enjoy watching The History Guy on YouTube. He covers the history of all sorts of off-beat topics in an objective way. I'll try to see if he has covered the topic of English and Irish slavery. If not, I'll recommend it to him.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020:

Thanks Lorna, yes white slavery has been so suppressed, but over 1 million taken just from England and Ireland! 300 years of slavery and its been hidden! yes the book is probably one of the most fascinating, I have ever read. And one that got me really angry.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 20, 2020: