British create the settlement of Sierra Leone, for freed slaves

Voyages to the River Sierra Leone by John Matthews, 1788

Friday, 22 August 1788

The colony of Sierra Leone was conceived by British philanthropists and abolitionists as a home for African slaves freed in England. A Temne king sold a strip of land on the north shore of the Sierra Leone Peninsula to the Sierra Leone Company for the "free community of settlers, their heirs and successors."

A few years later the settlers were also joined by settlers of African origin from other parts of the empire. Sierra Leone became a British crown colony in 1808. Throughout the 19th century, the colony steadily grew through various "treaties of friendship" and cessions from the local chiefs.

After the British slave trade was abolished in 1807, the new colony was used as a base from which the act could be enforced. Beginning in 1808, hundreds of slaves were freed each year, most of them remaining in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone achieved its independence on 27 April 1961.


  1. "August 22nd in History". Website:
  2. Sierra Leone - History. Website:

Last updated : 22-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011