Abolitionists

Dr Stephen Lushington, political reformer and anti-slavery campaigner, lived at Ockham Park (SHC ref SHC ref 7854)

Dr Stephen Lushington, political reformer and anti-slavery campaigner, lived at Ockham Park (SHC ref 7854)

Throughout modern history there have been both slavers and abolitionists in Surrey. Just as slave owners could be wealthy land owners or ordinary townspeople hoping to improve their fortunes, there was no one way to support the abolition of slavery. Some belonged to local non-conformist religious groups, such as Methodist and Quaker communities, who protested in minor ways, such as writing petitions and lobbying their members of parliament. Other were eccentric and outspoken.

The abolition movement gathered pace in the nineteenth century once the slave trade had been officially abolished in 1807 and the emancipation of slaves was in sight. From that point on, people from all walks of life could have an opinion about the problem of the West Indies. Read more about different Surrey perspectives on the topic of the emancipation of slaves here.

The religious anti-slavery movement which swept through Britain on the tide of the evangelical revival in the eighteenth century had its effect on Surrey’s religious community. You can read about the abolition movement in Surrey’s Christian community by clicking here.

Perhaps Surrey’s most notable abolitionist was Thomas Day, who was a remarkable man for a number of reasons.

Henry Drummond MP (1786-1860), the owner of Albury Park, was an abolitionist and spoke at the Guildford Anti-Slavery Committee in 1832 (SHC ref PX/3/40; courtesy of Dr Maurice Burton)

Henry Drummond MP (1786-1860), the owner of Albury Park, was an abolitionist and spoke at the Guildford Anti-Slavery Committee in 1832 (SHC ref PX/3/40; courtesy of Dr Maurice Burton)

Guildford Anti-Slavery Committee was a driving force locally for abolition and organised a lecture in the Town Hall in 1832 by local MP and abolitionist Henry Drummond (SHC Ref. G21/9).

All slaves in the West Indies were freed or ‘manumitted’ by law in 1834 after the Emancipation Act was passed in 1833. In the East Indies, however, slavery was not abolished until 1843. All slave owners were paid compensation, relative to the number of slaves they owned, in return for their compliance.

The controversy was not over, though, because most slaves entered a state of ‘apprenticeship’. Many recognised that the apprenticeship scheme only kept the former slaves in unpaid labour without any real change in their fortune, so the scheme was scrapped in 1838.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *