The Slave Trade and Abolition
Research into the impact of the slave trade and its abolition.
It became illegal to purchase enslaved people directly from Africa under the Abolition Act 1807. However, the condition of slavery remained legal in the British Caribbean until 1834, when the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 came into force.
The 1833 act made it illegal to buy or own a person. Even then, adult slaves were not automatically freed but became 'apprentices' for between four and six years.
The apprenticeships were designed to prepare former slaves for independent living, but abolitionists saw them as 'but another name for slavery'. Apprentices were poorly paid, or unpaid and were still subject to harsh plantation discipline.
As a result of public pressure apprenticeships were abolished early, in 1838.
Thomas Fowell Buxton (from 1786 to 1845) was MP for Weymouth and a social reformer. When William Wilberforce retired he asked Buxton to take on the Parliamentary campaign against slavery. The two men founded the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1823.
Buxton became vice-president of the Anti-Slavery Society and in 1839 he established the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and the Civilisation of Africa.
He is commemorated, along with other campaigners, by the Buxton Memorial Fountain, Victoria Tower Gardens, 1 Millbank, London SW1P 3JU (listed Grade II*).
The memorial was designed by both S.S. Teulson and Thomas’ son Charles Buxton. It was erected in 1865-66 to mark the Slavery Abolition Act (1833). The monument is one of the most significant of its kind because it commemorates one of Parliament’s most momentous acts and its principal dedicatee is Buxton who was the main person responsible for the act being passed.
A plaque on the Friends' Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane, Norwich also commemorates his life.
Between 1808 and 1815 Buxton lived and worked at the Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL (listed Grade II*) and there is a plaque here in memory.
The site is also known as the Director’s House because it acted as both a domestic residence and company headquarters. It was part of a working brewery from the 18th to the 20th century and a rare surviving example of a gentleman’s townhouse.
Joseph Pease (from 1799 to 1872) was the first Quaker to become an MP in 1832. He was a railway promoter and President of the Peace Society. He worked with Thomas Fowell Buxton in the parliamentary campaign to end slavery. A statue of Joseph Pease was erected in High Row, Darlington, DL3 (listed Grade II) in 1875. It was designed by George Anderson Lawson, who was one of the pioneers of the Victorian New Sculpture movement. Part of the design is its relief panels which illustrate aspects of Pease’s public life.
Brougham Hall, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 2DE was the home of the lawyer and journalist Henry Brougham, Lord Brougham (from 1778 to 1868). He became an MP in 1810 and the following year he introduced a bill to strengthen the Abolition Act 1807 and to make it illegal to trade in slaves.
Throughout his life Brougham spoke out against the slave trade and the enslavement of people. As Lord Chancellor he oversaw the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act through Parliament.
Joseph Sturge (from 1793 to 1859) was a Quaker abolitionist and co-founder of the Agency Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society in 1831. The committee pressed for immediate and entire freedom for slaves. Between 1836 and 1837 Sturge travelled throughout the West Indies gathering evidence to prove that the apprenticeship system was as bad as slavery.
In 1840 he organised the World Anti-Slavery Convention. A statue of Joseph Sturge by the versatile and prolific sculptor John Thomas (listed Grade II) commemorates him and his achievements. It stands in front of the Marriott Hotel, Five Ways, Birmingham B16 8SJ (1862). On the statue, a figure of Charity kneels at Sturge's feet, comforting an African child.
His sister, Sophia Sturge (from 1795 to 1845) was a co-founder of the Birmingham Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves.
As Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons, Earl Grey (from 1764 to 1845) oversaw the act abolishing the slave trade through Parliament.
He was Prime Minister in 1833 when the law to end slavery in the Caribbean was passed. Earl Grey was MP for Northumberland and in 1838 a memorial to him was erected on Blackett Street, Newcastle, NE1 6JG.
The Quaker industrialist Samuel Lucas (from 1811 to 1865) was a veteran of the Anti-Corn Law campaign and a journalist and social reformer. He campaigned against slavery and was a delegate at the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention in London.
During the American Civil War, Lucas supported the Northern states and co-founded the Emancipation Society in 1862. He criticised the slave-owning South in articles he wrote for the radical newspaper, Morning Star. He edited the newspaper from 1857 until his death. There is a memorial to Samuel Lucas in Highgate Cemetery, Swain's Lane, Highgate, London N6 6PJ (listed Grade II) where he is buried. Lucas and his wife Margaret nee Bright’s tomb, has a personal inscription which tells us that Lucas found out mere hours before he died that the Confederate capital, Richmond had fallen. Therefore, the American Civil War was ultimately over, so abolition could occur in both the Northern and the Southern states.
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