Britain passed the Slavery Abolition Act on 29 August 1833, although it would take a year before the law would take effect. Under the Abolition Act all those currently considered to be slaves (and aged six and above) would be re-classified as apprenticed (or indentured) laborers and required to provide four years of service to their previous masters, before achieving full emancipation in 1838. This period of adjustment was supposedly to give both slaves and masters time to adjust to the new situation.
Slaves held in the British Cape Colony (South Africa), for example, were converted to indentured laborers on 1 December 1834 and gained their full freedom on 1 December 1838.
In order to compensate slave owners for their potential economic losses the British government made a sum, not to exceed £15 million, available to be paid out partly in cash and the rest in government stocks. In the Cape Colony this compensation came to approximately £ 1 250 000 (for around 40 000 slaves).
The slaves received no compensation.