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Thomas and John Clarkson Abolition and Peace timeline


Researched and developed for Articles for Change by Dr Maureen James, 2021.




Thomas born 28 March, in the Free Grammar School, Wisbech (Ship Lane, now Hill Street) where his father Rev. John Clarkson was Headmaster.




John born 4 April also in the Free Grammar School, Wisbech.




Rev. John Clarkson died suddenly on 31 March and was buried on 2 April. The family then moved to 8 York Row, Wisbech, a property owned by Mrs Clarkson’s cousin Lawrence Banyer.




Thomas left Wisbech Grammar to attend St. Paul’s School, London.




John left Wisbech for Portsmouth. He arrived on HMS Monarch on 21 March.




John, a midshipman on HMS Suffolk sailed for the West Indies on 25 December.




Thomas was enrolled at St. John's College, Cambridge in the Michaelmas Term.




John appointed acting lieutenant on the Bloodhound, on October 16 by the order of Admiral Rowley at the Royal Navy Jamaican station at Port Royal. By this time, he had served in nine ships and had been involved in fighting on every one of them. 




Thomas awarded BA and ordained Deacon on 23 June. The war over, John is sent home on  half-pay.




Thomas won the prize for the Latin essay for middle bachelors.




Thomas won the members prize with his Latin essay Anne Liceat Invitos In Servitutem Dare?  ('Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will?')  which was read in the Senate House to much applause in June. By November he was at home in Wisbech, translating expanding the essay for publication. He also had the help of his brother John. In November, while riding to London Thomas got off his horse on the hill above Wades Mill (Thundridge) Herts with profound thoughts that something should be done to end the Slave Trade.




In mid-January, Thomas went to London to seek a publisher for the essay which was partly competed. After one unsuccessful meeting he happened to be walking past the Royal Exchange, when Joseph Hancock, a Quaker friend of his family stopped him and asked him why he had not yet published his essay as the Quakers were interested in reading it? Hancock introduced Thomas to James Phillips who offered to print the essay.

The translated essay was published by Phillips in London in June (and also in the United States) as Essay on The Slavery and Commerce of The Human Species, Particularly the African. Thomas was also introduced to other people who were working to abolish the Slave Trade. Later that summer, Thomas spent a month with James Ramsey at the vicarage in Teston in Kent talking about abolition. William Wilberforce also spent time there in the autumn discussing the same subject.




Early in the year, Thomas, who had by this time committed himself to helping the abolition campaign, went to see William Wilberforce at 4 Old Palace Yard, Westminster and gave him a copy of his essay. On 13 March both men attended a dinner at the house of Bennet Langton where Wilberforce agreed to help the campaign. The Society for Affecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade (SEAST) was set up on 22 May.

On 25 June Thomas then commenced his first fact-finding mission visiting Bristol Bridgewater  (20 July), Bristol [where this time he talked to the landlord of the Seven Stars pub], Gloucester, Monmouth (25 July), Worcester, Chester and Liverpool [where he stayed at the Kings Arms Tavern, collected the African items now in the chest and was nearly murdered. He then went to Lancaster, back to Liverpool then on to Manchester where he delivered a sermon to a packed church with 40-50 black people standing around the pulpit). He also encouraged the population to gather petitions. Thomas was in Liverpool in September. He was accompanied by Falconbridge who had two loaded pistols beneath his coat.

Thomas then spent a day with Lord Scarsdale in Keddleston, Derbyshire before travelling to Birmingham to meet the brothers of John Lloyd (SEAST committee member), and then back to Bristol.  He risked his life again crossing the Severn in bad weather, and caught a fever, while following a messenger through Newport, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Neath and back to Bristol. His aim was to get some good witnesses to send to London.  After five months travelling he returned to London in November. [His 30 page diary for the period 25 June and 25 July is at St John’s College Library Papers of Thomas Clarkson, Folder 1-5, Doc 1]

In October the committee adopted the seal of the kneeling African.




From February to May the Privy Council considered a large number of Anti-Slavery petitions. Thomas met Pitt and also answered the questions from the Privy Council with regards to the ‘natural productions of Africa’, of which he produced specimens that he had collected in Bristol and Liverpool. He also informed them of the loss and usage of seamen in the Slave-Trade. 

At this time Thomas was regularly attending SEAST meetings and corresponding with about 400 people in the local committees he had helped to establish in the major towns.

John took on an unofficial role as his secretary and general dogsbody, sometimes also accompanying him to meetings.

In June SEAST approved a list of questions to be used to gather relevant evidence. On 10 July the Dolben Act was passed which limited the number of enslaved Africans on British transports.  Thomas then commenced a tour of the southern counties from Kent to Cornwall, visiting Poole, Dartmouth, Plymouth and Exeter. At Poole, Plymouth, Tiveton and Exeter in the autumn, he helped found abolition committees. Though he had travelled about 1600 miles and had talked to 47 persons, “who were capable of promoting the cause by their evidence,” he could only persuade 9 to be examined.

On 4 November Thomas was recalled to London to put more evidence to the enquiry. For nearly five weeks between mid-November and January the Parliamentary examinations were put off due to the illness of the King. Thomas at this time also showed the enquiry the items in his chest but they did not have much time to hear evidence.

Meanwhile, Thomas sent John to le Havre to investigate the French Slave Trade in that port for two or three months. This was in response to a report sent by Jacques Pierre Brissot (regarded as the Clarkson of France).




In March John returned to London to find that he would not be able to give evidence to the government enquiry as there would be insufficient time to hear it, however Brissot included the information in a published report.

Thomas was in Soho, London on 9 July.

On 7  August Thomas set off for Paris for six months in an attempt to persuade the French Government to abolish the Slave Trade. He met the King and other influential people, and gave the former two copies of his Essay along with some specimens of the products of Africa. He anticipated an early end to the abolition campaign but it took him months to arrange a meeting with members of the National Assembly. When the day arrived, the removal of the King and Queen from Versailles meant that the meeting was cancelled. During his absence SEAST had distributed the print of the slave-ship. 




In late January, Thomas returned from Paris. He and John soon became part of a team sorting research for Wilberforce to present to Parliament. Thomas then travelled around the north of England and Scotland for four months, again looking for further witnesses. He travelled nearly 2000 miles without getting a witness and visited Edinburgh, York and Nottingham.

After much searching for Naval positions, and much use of contacts (networking) John had failed to find a job. However, a brief war scare led to his being appointed to HMS Sandwich, guarding the mouth of the Thames on May 24 until February 25. John was also, along with three others, asked to examine an abstracts of the musters of 350 Bristol and Liverpool slave-ships to see if the trade was a ‘nursery for seamen.’  In November both Clarkson’s met Thomas Peters who had arrived in London with a petition from Nova Scotia looking for help for the black loyalists who wished to return to Africa.




Falconbridge and his wife travel out to Sierra Leone in January where they re-site Granville Town and then sail to England in June, highly critical of the directors ‘ill-digested’ plans.

On 3 May John was elected as a member of the SEAST committee.

The Sierra Leone Company was incorporated on 6 June.

Thomas attended a dinner to commemorate the second anniversary of the Fall of the Bastille, held at the Crown and Anchor tavern in the Strand on 14 July.

On August 5, John, who was by this time engaged to Susan Lee, the 22 year-old daughter of a Lombard Street banker, applied to the Navy for 12 months leave to got to Halifax on 'private affairs'. He then volunteered to help the Loyalist project and went to have his portrait painted in ‘full Windsor uniform with a rolled copy of the Act of Parliament creating the Sierra Leone Company clutched in one hand.

Though John embarked at Gravesend for Nova Scotia on August 19, due to adverse weather they did not set sail until 8 September, arriving in Halifax on October 7.

Falconbridge and his wife arrive at Penzance, Cornwall on September 2. They met Thomas at Plymouth on September 13 and then travelled to London. They reached the city by September 30 and met with the directors of the Sierra Leone Company.

During the year Thomas was again touring and reorganising local committees including at Shrewsbury in October. His aim was to encourage petitions in advance of a fresh debate planned for early 1792.




Thomas travels round England again gathering new witnesses, as a number had died. He seems also to have been collecting names of people sympathetic to the French Revolution along with money to send to the National Assembly in France.

He visits Liverpool (arriving by night as he had received letters to say his life would be in danger if he went there).  He was too weak to cover Scotland so Dr William Dickson took on this task.

During the year, whilst visiting Joseph Hardcastle, a director of the Sierra Leone Company and keen abolitionist, Thomas met Hardcastle’s niece Catherine Buck.

January 15 John and the flotilla sail from Halifax to Sierra Leone. On the voyage 65 persons died of fever (probably typhus). Clarkson also was taken ill with a raging fever and pronounced dead, though during a severe gale on 29 January he was found tossed out of his bed, but still alive.

The ships reached their destination between February 28 and March 9, where a pile of letters awaited. One of them offered John the position of Governor of Sierra Leone. Falconbridge and his wife Anna Maria arrived to hear the news.

On 4 August the new settlers of Freetown were united with the few remaining Granville Town settlers from 1787. 28 August John, who had previously been unsure about his authority to make decisions, was put in charge of all matters with the assistance of two councillors who were soon to travel to the colony – Zachary Macaulay and William Dawes. On 16 December Clarkson gave a farewell speech from the pulpit to the colonists. On 19 December Falconbridge died and was replaced by a man who had worked in the Slave Trade, but knew the coast. Ten days later John sailed for home to report to the Sierra-Leone Company on the progress of the colony.  Zachary Macaulay arrived in Sierra-Leone 10 days after John had departed.




John disembarked at Dartmouth on 10 February to find that war with France had been declared. He received a warm welcome from Henry Thornton and Wilberforce but a small cargo of African products he had brought with him were ignored. He remained in London for two months waiting for the directors to request to see him, unable to settle to anything else and becoming away that whilst in private he was praised, in public he was ignored. To keep himself busy, he talked at length to his brother about the hard working and pious settlers and even attended some of the SEAST meetings with him, handing over a small donation from the formerly enslaved people of Sierra-Leone.

On 23 April John was told his services were no longer required in Sierra Leone, though asked to, he refused to resign.  He married Susan Lee of Ingoldisthorpe Hall, Norfolk on 25 April in Beccles, Suffolk. Three days later the couple were living with old Mrs Clarkson in Wisbech.

In the summer Thomas spent a bit of time in the Lake District and stayed with Thomas Wilkinson, a Quaker friend. He asked him to look for a piece of land on which he could build a house. He had asked Catherine Bucks father for permission to marry her but his health and financial situation meant he did not formally propose to her until two years later.

In late August 1793, Thomas was exhausted and had a breakdown. He wrote in letters to his friends to say that he feared he would not survive his next tour to collect witnesses for the House of Lords enquiry.

This would be his fifth provincial tour, and before going Thomas dined with Archdeacon Plymley. He confirmed that he was likely to have only £1200 of his savings left by Christmas. He sold his shares in the Sierra-Leone Company and resigned from the board but had used up £1500 of his own money to pay the costs for witnesses to travel to and stay in London as SEAST was unable to help. Plymley suggested to Wilberforce that £1500 be collected from the wealthy supporters of abolition who were friends or admirers of Thomas Clarkson’s work. Objections to his political views however meant that the target was not achieved until the autumn of 1794.




Thomas completed his touring by February 1794, and returned to London, but his health had not improved. Concerns about his brother would not have helped. Thomas had been asking Wilberforce to use his contacts to get a promotion for John, and in August a letter was written to Lord Chatham (first Lord of the Admiralty, brother of William Pitt). A few months later John was offered a ship but he declined stating “that he did not approve the war.” John remained on the half pay list until May 1795.

In Spring John and Susan Clarkson moved to Purfleet on the Thames where John was employed by Samuel Whitbread to manage the lime quarry. They occupied a 26 roomed mansion house on the corner of the High Street, with views of the Thames.

In May Thomas was forced by ill health to retire from his work. He travelled to the Lake District to spend two months with Wilkinson at Yanath and brought a property at Eusemere on Lake Ullswater, using most of his savings. He planned to lease some of the land and a farmhouse and build a house and farm on the remaining 20 acres.  At this time he also stopped wearing clerical dress and told friends that they should cease addressing him as ‘Reverend’. He explained to Thomas Wilkinson that ‘he couldn’t at present, unite in its forms of worship’

In November 1794 Thomas travelled back down to London, stopping in Shropshire with the Plymleys on the way. His health was much improved.




8 January, Anne Clarkson married Rev. John Leroo, Rector of Long Melford.

In March the London Committee of SEAST ceased their regular weekly meetings and give up the office in Old Jewry. In May Thomas proposed to Catherine Buck.

On 1 August a son (John) was born to John & Susan but he died within three weeks.




On 21 January 1796 Thomas and Catherine were married at St Marys Church, Bury St Edmunds.

In early April they set out for the Lake District visiting friends on the way. They move into the farmhouse (Woodside) while the new home is being completed. Their son Thomas II was born on 19 October. 




SEAST had ceased all meetings. This would last until 1804. William Wilberforce met Barbara Spooner and after a two-week courtship they married on 30 May 1797. Thomas went to the celebration in the Old Palace Yard. The couple then moved into a house on the Clapham estate. On 12 July a daughter (Susanna) was born to John & Susan.




On 30 June a son (John Brassey) was born to John & Susan. Mrs Anne Clarkson dies in Wisbech in October. Thomas was unable to get to see her in the last brief illness. In November Dorothy and William Wordsworth and Coleridge spent a day at Eusemere with the Clarksons. The Wordsworths moved into the Town End cottage at Grasmere (24 miles away) in December. 




On 23 April twins (Anna and Horatia) were born to John and Susan.




Thomas and Catherine became close friends of William & Dorothy Wordsworth and Coleridge.




On 6 February another son (Banyer) was born to John and Susan.

Catherine became ill, possibly of a liver disorder. She travelled to the Hot Wells in Bristol to see a doctor, who was reputed to be the ‘best in England’. Too ill to live in the damp Lake District, and after the sudden death of her mother, Catherine moves to Bury St Edmunds to live with her father, William Buck. Thomas II is looked after by Aunt Ann Leroo at Long Melford until he is old enough to attend King Edward VI Grammar School in the town. Catherine then moves to Bristol to be near Dr Beddoes who was trying to cure her affliction.




On 15 October another daughter (Sophia) was born to John and Susan.   

Thomas sells the house in the Lake District to Lord Lowther. Thomas joins his family in Bury St Edmunds and rejoins the Abolitionist Committee, one month after its revival on 23 May. When he needed to be in or near London, Thomas (and often Catherine) would stay with John (who had four children by this time) at Purfleet This committee is very different from the earlier one, and is now more of a lobby organisation.




In July Catherine and Thomas go to Grasmere to spend several months in a cottage not far from the Wordsworths. Thomas went off on his travels around the country again to find “a profound attention to what I said ; an earnest desire to know more of the subject ; and a         generous warmth in favour, of the injured Africans, which I foresaw could soon be turned into enthusiasm.” Catherine stayed in the Lake District until late October. On 22 August eight                year old Susanna Clarkson died.

Ann Leroo dies at Long Melford.

Over the next two years John would raise money for the London Committee of SEAST.




Thomas was in London from 7 – 10 April and wrote to John Wadkin in Manchester about the Bill for the Abolition of the Foreign Slave Trade. He was also in London on 29 May and 9 June.

On 25 October yet another daughter (Mary) was born to John and Susan. The 3 volume Portraiture of Quakerism by Thomas is published. The Clarksons took up residence in the Bury's fashionable Horse Market. They rented No 5, which is now St Mary's Square.  Her father's new brewery (the future Green King) was nearby as was St Mary's Church.




British Parliament passes the bill to abolish the Slave Trade on 23 February. Thomas was in London to hear the result and wrote letters to his friends to express his joy. He attended a meeting at Freemason’s Hall, London on 14 April at which the resolutions were passed that would lead to the foundation of "The African Institution". The meeting was adjourned to 12 May to receive the report of the committee. Thomas became a Director but was not part of the inner circle that was linked to the Clapham sect. He was in London on 1 May but by 30 August he was in Hemdale and on 24 October he was at home in Bury St Edmunds.




On 7 March,  Horatia Clarkson, one of the twins died just before her seventh birthday and on 31 March Banyer, aged five was buried.

On 24 March and 3 June Thomas was in London Publication of Clarkson's History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Parliament.

On 18 July and 2 August Thomas was at home in Bury St Edmunds. On the latter date, he wrote a letter to Wadkin which included mention that he planned to visit Manchester soon with his wife.




On 14 September another daughter (Louisa Anne) was born to John and Susan.              

Thomas started to investigate and document who was still involved in the trade and how they were avoiding prosecution.

On 20 January Thomas was in London.

 He visited Liverpool for two days during the year.




On 30 July Thomas wrote a letter to Wadkin from Bury St Edmunds, to say that he a meeting was planned in London to discuss the next Bill to be introduced in Parliament. Thomas said that this will take up a month of his time and therefore he needed money from the sale of his book. He suggested different ways of selling the book.




Thomas was in London on 29 January.  On 29 June Thomas and his wife were at the Senate-House at Cambridge, for the Installation of William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester as Chancellor of the University.  Between July  and August Paul Cuffe, a free black Quaker businessman from the USA was in England to discuss his hopes for trade between the USA, Britain and Sierra Leone. Specifically he wanted a licence to import African products. He met Zachary Macaulay, William Allen and the Clarkson brothers and appeared before the Directors of the African Institution (AI) on 7 August. He impressed them so much with his ideas that the AI set up a committee to discuss the proposals. Thomas Clarkson and Allen unsuccessfully tried to persuade the AI to give the Sierra Leone settlers a commercial subsidy. Allen had also began a correspondence with him and offered to help the Friendly Society as their agent. On 21 August, their tenth and last child (Emma) was born to John and Susan.




Catherine kept house for John in early February, while Susan received medical treatment in London.





The 2 volume Life of William Penn is published. On 10 February, Thomas wrote to John Wadkin from Bury St Edmunds to ask him to try to get subscribers for the book at a lower price. Similar letters were written from the same place on 2 April, 4 May and 7 May William Allen pushed for an official inquiry into the actions of the African Institute with regards to Sierra Leone, and, eventually with Wilberforce's backing a special committee was formed, headed by Henry Brougham, with Wilberforce, Macaulay and Thomas Clarkson as members. Hearings began on 15 December and the committee sat for 22 days.




John testified to the African Institute inquiry for two days as did Robert Thorpe, a former Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Thorpe later published a vicious attack on the AI. Other witnesses include Macaulay, Allen and a spokesperson for the settlers.  The committee exonerated the management of the colony.

On 6 June John chaired a meeting to discuss a proposed Peace Society at the premises of William Allen in Plough Court, off Lombard Street.

Thomas becomes Chairman of "The Society for the purpose of Encouraging the Black Settlers at Sierra Leone and the Natives of Africa generally in the Cultivation of the Soil by the sale of Their Produce." John along with William Allen were to handle the financial transactions. This organisation trades directly with the "Friendly society of Sierra Leone" for the next five years.

Thomas was in London on 21 June and 15 July. He wrote to his wife a number of times during this time [letters in Huntington Library].

In September, Thomas and his wife went to Paris to present copies of his new pamphlet.

5-7 November, Henry Crabb Robinson spent “an agreeable weekend” with the Clarkson family at Purfleet.




Thomas to Paris in September with his son (age 19) to meet the Russian Tsar Alexander I on 23 September at the Palais de Bourbon. Anti Slavery tracts distributed at the Congress of Vienna. Becomes adviser, by correspondence, Henry Christopher   King Henry I of Haiti. John received two Maroon visitors from Sierra-Leone who wanted to protest about property that had been confiscated. John kept a list of the Nova Scotian’s that he had governed and added new information acquired from these visitors.




On 14 June the Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace (often known as the London Peace Society) was founded.

Thomas attended the Quaker yearly meeting in London along with William Allen and James Cropper. They discussed Sierra Leone.

The Clarksons move to Playford Hall, Suffolk. Catherine translates Cries of Africa into French with the help of B. Laroche.




Thomas was in London on 18 March. The Peace Society published its Address along with 46000 copies of other tracts and collected subscriptions for 190 people.




Between 30 September and 11October was in Aix-la-Chapelle to attend the Congress. He took the chest of examples of African ‘genius’ to show to anyone who was interested along with 200 copies of a Slave Trade address. He was there with his nephew John and they were also representing the Peace Society for whom they planned to distribute copies of the 1817 Address of the Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace by Robert Marsden. The Duke of Wellington obtained a ticket for young John to attend the burgomaster’s ball. John junior would later comment on the event including the coat worn by Castlereagh which was emblazoned with 9000 guineas worth of diamonds.

On 11 October Thomas met the Emperor Alexander and gave him a number of gifts including a set of his own published books bound with purple leather and an African dagger and sheath. He also elicited a response from Alexander that he too was confident that peace would be restored to Europe. 




Thomas was in London on 3 February. The Herald of Peace was started by the Peace Society which had 10 branches.




After the suicide of Samuel Whitbread II, John was no longer required at the Lime works by the new proprietor. He was offered a partnership in the Alexander family bank at Woodbridge and moved into the adjoining house on Stone Street, now Church Street. They were just four miles from Playford Hall. They retained a home in London at 16 Earl Street. This property is used free of charge for the monthly meetings of the Peace Society.

Thomas was in Paris again on 3 June. He wrote a letter to his wife.




After the revolution in Haiti, Henri Chistophe's widow, and their two daughters stay at Playford Hall.




According to a document at St John’s College, a discussion took place between two members of the African Institution, Zachary Macaulay and William Allen. They believed that though the Slave Trade had been abolished, Slavery itself remained untouched. They resolved to gather together their old friends from the anti-Slave Trade cause to campaign to put an end to Slavery. Gives a brief account of the histories of the two men and their efforts to contact interested parties and tells of the first meeting at the Kings Head Tavern, Poultry. Describes the belief amongst the group that their movement must remain secret until it has become strong enough to oppose the powerful pro Slavery lobby.




31 January - Foundation of the "Society for Mitigating and Gradually Abolishing the State of Slavery throughout the British Dominions" (Anti-Slavery Society). Duke of Gloucester as president with Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson are vice-presidents with new inspiring speakers including Macaulay’s son. 'Thoughts on the Necessity for improving the Condition of the Slaves in the British Colonies, with a view to their ultimate emancipation’ published

Clarkson recommended that James Cropper travel around the country to get the branches to send petitions to London. Clarkson was also travelling for much of the summer to initiate new groups from 30 June until 26 February 1824 and finding that people want immediate rather than gradual abolition.




Thomas was in Uxbridge on 1 February and wrote to John Candler to say “I have travelled six hundred miles, and I have completely organized the Counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Berks, Oxford & Bucks. I have only Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Surrey & Kent to travel through to complete our Island – which I expect to perform in about 14 days.”

25 June -The Anti-Slavery Society held its first public meeting at Freemasons’ Hall. On 28 June Thomas went travelling again until 11 November.

John's only son, John Brassey, a distinguished stock broker died at age 25 after an illness of three weeks, on 9 November. Possible speech to Swansea Committee [document in St John’s College, collection].




On 10 April Thomas was at Playford.

John's daughter Emma died age 14 after a long and painful illness on 26 August

Thomas II was called to the bar. Speech delivered by Thomas Clarkson, Esq. to a Public Meeting of the Inhabitants of Ipswich and its Vicinity, held at the Town Hall, on Tuesday, the 13th of December, 1825, on the Subject of British Colonial Slavery' [document in St John’s College, collection]. During the year James Cropper seems to have been travelling around the country visiting anti-Slavery gatherings in the major towns while Thomas Clarkson visited other places.




The 10th Anniversary meeting of the Peace Society was held at the Albion Hall in London with John as Chairman. In the annual report it was announced that groups had been formed in Nova Scotia and Ireland and that there were 50 branches in Britain with four women’s groups.  During the year James Cropper had continued travelling around the country visiting anti-Slavery gatherings in the major towns and also encouraging the formation of women’s anti-Slavery associations. The London committee however seem to have been meeting infrequently.




St John’s College, collection contains a Draft letter from Thomas Clarkson to country committees. Urges committees to send petitions to Parliament rather then postponing dispatch until the position of Ministers is made clear. Claims that petitions encourage and support ministers in the cause. During the winter John started to suffer chest pains and occasional difficulties in breathing.

The African Institution held its last meeting.




John died on April 2 and was buried in the family vault at St Mary’s Church, Woodbridge on 9 April.




The four remaining daughters of John all get married on 11 June at St Mary’s Church, Woodbridge.




Anti-Slavery Society meeting at Freemason’s Hall on 15 May with 2000 people, many demanding immediate abolition of Slavery. Clarkson requested Wilberforce take the chair. This would be the last meeting over which Wilberforce presided.




Thomas Clarkson III, son of Thomas II and Mary (daughter of John) born. Thomas lobbies Sir Henry Bunbury, Bart., M.P. 27th March, 1831 against compensation for owners of enslaved Africans. [letter in Wisbech & Fenland Museum’s collection]




Slavery in the British Empire abolished. Death of William Wilberforce. US abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison visits Thomas at Playford in July. Thomas also wrote letters from Playford on 25 September and 24 October.




Start of the ‘quarrel’ between Thomas and Samuel and Robert Wilberforce.  On 5 May Thomas has cataract operation to restore sight in one eye. He was also suffering from rheumatism.




Thomas's only son, Thomas II, dies on 9 March as a result of falling from a horse and chaise and landing on the cobbles on his head. His wife Mary is at her mother’s sickbed when she received the news. She then moves with her son Thomas III to Playford to live with Thomas and Catherine.




Thomas was at Playford on 5 November and 9 December. Despite suffering from cataracts, publishes Strictures on a Life of William Wilberforce in reply to misinformation in the book by the Wilberforce brothers.




Thomas is admitted to the Freedom of the City of London in recognition of his work [parchment in Wisbech & Fenland Museum’s collection]. Henry Room paints portrait of Thomas. The British & Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was formed on 17 April with Thomas Clarkson as vice-president and attending meetings when his health would allow.




Anti Slavery convention at Freemason’s Hall in London, Thomas elected President at the               opening session on 12 June. It is his final appearance on a public platform Draft of Speech, later annotated by Thomas Clarkson as 'Speech of mine at a meeting held at Woodbridge'. Old age and health means Clarkson can only address them for a few minutes. Meeting is to form a committee to co-operate with the London Branch of the British and Foreign Anti-      Slavery Society. Gives a few words on the evils of the slave trade, discusses the workings of 'farms' in America where slaves are bred and denounces the owners of such establishments. [document in St John’s College,collection].




Thomas was at Playford on 25 May, when he wrote to Thomas Spring-Rice, Lord Monteagle, about the Ashburton Treaty, which Clarkson believes would break up a colony of formerly enslaved Africans in Canada and restore them to Slavery. On 13 June he wrote to Joseph Pease with regards the granting of freedom to enslaved peoples by the Government of India and the availability of cotton produced by paid labourers in India as opposed to that of cotton from the USA. He was too ill to attend the Anti-Slavery Convention which was held in London from 13 – 20      June.




Wilberforce brothers privately apologise to Thomas.




August – William Lloyd Garrison & Frederick Douglass visit Thomas.

26 September, death of Thomas.

2 October burial of Thomas a Playford.




Harriet Beecher Stowe visits Playford.




Thomas III married Sarah Ann Bloomfield in Shoreditch, London.




Catherine Clarkson dies age 82.























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