Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.
March 28 1760 to September 26 1846
Clarkson was a leader in the abolitionist movement to end slavery along with William Wilberforce and Charles James Fox. Once he had seen to the success of his movement in the British Empire, he campaigned for the abolishment of slavery worldwide.
His father John was a reverend, and Thomas attended St. Paul’s School in London, and the St. John’s College in Cambridge. While there he entered a contest to write an essay on “Is it lawful to enslave the unconsenting” and from then on he was an abolitionist. He won the competition.
Clarkson published his essay and he then met many of the influential in the Anti-Slavery movement. At this time the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed. It had 9 members of the Quaker community, and three who were not, Clarkson was one of them.
To our modern day minds, we are very much attuned that there should not be slavery, though in many parts of the world in the 21st century slavery is still practiced. Even in this age the slave trade in women is being touted. But when we revisit literature now, we highlight men like Clarkson since he stood for something we know should be eradicated. Then, though, he was shouting loud and mostly unto death ears. An analogy would be those who say we should completely stop the use of carbon based energy immediately. A great deal of the economy now is tied to that form of energy and a great deal of the economy then was tied to slavery. Rich people would lose fortunes, poor people would lose jobs and be poorer still, without an economy based on slavery at some level. How do you change a society when you will cost people their money?
Clarkson’s task was to show the horror of the trade. In Liverpool in 1787 he was attacked by sailors and nearly killed. They had been paid to assassinate him. Again, the task of stopping slavery meant hundreds of thousands would be affected. Probably millions.
One of his first actions was to look into the ship Lively and here he found beautiful objects taken from the African peoples that others were enslaving. He began to be a collector of the work of Africa. The first bill to Parliament for the abolition of slavery was introduced in 1791 and defeated by about 2 to 1.
By 1794 Clarkson was exhausted and he bought an estate in the Lake District (so there must have been enough money in fighting slavery to do well for oneself.) At this time he married Catherine Buck and they had a child. Now for his wife’s health, they returned to the south of England, in Bury St. Edmunds.
The war with France gave the anti-slavery movement some pause. They had achieved he passage, Charles James Fox’s last great act, of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. Now Clarkson ensured the enforcement of the act.
Though the trade in slaves was stopped in the British Empire, Slavery was not abolished yet. This was what Clarkson worked on next, and crisscrossed England to the tune of 10,000 miles. His efforts caused 777 petitions to be sent to Parliament to abolish slavery. As Wilberforce is a hero of the anti-slavery movement, now to, Thomas Clarkson is also so recognized.
Previous Notables (Click to see the Blog):
There will be many other notables coming, a full and changing list can be found here on the blog as I keep adding to it. The list so far is:
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
John Phillip Kemble
Wellington (the Military man)
General Banastre Tarleton
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Sir Marc Brunel
Marquis of Stafford George Leveson-Gower
Paul III Anton, Prince Esterházy
Thomas Egerton, 2nd Earl of Wilton
Henry Herbert Southey
Matthew Gregory Lewis
William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley
Sir Walter Scott
Duke of Argyll, George William Campbell (1766-1839)
Lord Barrymore, Richard Barry (1769-1794)
Lord Bedford, Francis Russell (1765-1802)
Mr. G. Dawson Damer (1788-1856)
Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (1748-1811)
Lord Foley, Thomas Foley (1780-1833)
Colonel George Hanger (c.1751-1824)
Lord Hertford, Francis Seymour-Ingram (1743-1822)
Lord Yarmouth, Francis Charles Seymour-Ingram (1777-1842)
Edward “Golden Ball” Hughes (1798-1863)
Earl of Jersey, George Bussey Villiers (1735-1805)
Sir John , John Lade (1759-1838)
Duke of Norfolk, Charles Howard (1746-1815)
Duke of York , Frederick Augustus Hanover (1763-1827)
Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1785 as Duc d’ Orleans (1747-1793)
Louis Philippe, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1793 as Duc d’ Orleans (1773-1850)
Captain John (Jack) Willett Payne (1752-1803)
Viscount Petersham, Charles Stanhope(1780-1851)
Duke of Queensberry, William Douglas (1724-1810)
Duke of Rutland, John Henry Manners(1778-1857)
Lord Sefton, William Philip Molyneux (1772-1838)
Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour (1759-1801)
Sir Lumley St. George Skeffington Baronet (1771 – 1850)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1766-1835)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1792-1853)
Hon. Frederick Gerald aka “Poodle” Byng
Patronesses of Almacks
Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper
Amelia Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh
Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey
Maria Molyneux, Countess of Sefton
Mrs. Drummond Burrell
Dorothea Lieven, Countess de Lieven, wife of the Russian Ambassador Countess Esterhazy, wife of the Austrian Ambassador