Slave name

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A slave name is a name given to a person who is or has been enslaved or a name inherited from enslaved ancestors. Modern use of the term applies mostly to African-Americans and West Indians who are descended from slaves, and can be used in a derogatory manner.


Ancient Rome

In Roman slavery, slaves often had a single name, given at the discretion of their owner. A slave who was manumitted might keep his or her slave name and adopt his or her former owner's name as a praenomen and nomen. As an example, one historian says that "a man named Publius Larcius freed a male slave named Nicia, who was then called Publius Larcius Nicia."[1]

Historian Harold Whetstone Johnston writes of instances in which a slave's former owner chose to ignore custom and gave the freedman a name of the owner's choosing.[2]

Cape Colony

In the Dutch colony in present day Cape Town, slaves were named after the months in which they were purchased. This resulted in surnames such as Januarie and Februarie.


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In France, the heritage of slave name from the French and Europeans slave trade can be found in the West Indies (Roots), Haiti.
In the 15th century, the rivers of Guinea and Cape Verde islands were among the first in Africa explored by the Portuguese. In 1446, Portugal claimed Portuguese Guinea(what is today Guinea-Bissau), but few posts had been established before 1600. In 1630, the Portuguese were established and administered the territory. Cacheu had become one of the main centers of the (slave trade), which declined in the 19th century.

In 1600, Portuguese, and other European powers, including France, England, Sweden, Scotland, Spain, Brandenburg-Prussia, Denmark, Holland, set up a thriving slave trade along the West African coast.

In 1659, Saint-Louis was secured territory for the French and the whole of Senegal by the end of the 19th century.
Dakar was built as the administrative trade center when the whole Senegal was a French territory.

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