CLARKSONS OF WISBECH
Ellen Gibson Wilson
by The Wisbech Society
by Cardinal Cox
Dope on Pnuk part 26
2007 sees the two hundredth
anniversary of the important legislation that banned the trade in
slaves throughout the colonies. As a result a squadron of naval
ships were sent to West Africa to seize ships. Disgracefully, the
ownership of slaves was not itself made illegal until 1834, but
it was a step in the right direction. Two major figures in the
campaign were brothers from Wisbech and this pamphlet is a brief
introduction to their lives.
The younger brother, John Clarkson
(born 1764) joined the Navy when he was 13 and served through the
American Revolution. During this time, if American slaves joined
the British side they were promised freedom. At the end of the
war they were settled in the barely hospitable Nova Scotia.
A plan was hatched though to move
them to a colony in (what is now) Sierra Leone and John led the
armada of 15 vessels in 1792. He then served as the first
governor for a year. Unfortunately the Sierra Leone Company did
not appreciate his fair treatment of the blacks and so replaced
Back home he continued to be an
activist and in 1816 was a founder of the Peace Society.
His elder brother Thomas (born
1760) is better known as he was a major figure in the
abolitionist movement, travelling widely to collect information
and to lecture. It was Thomas who chose (the now better known)
William Wilberforce to lead the campaign in Parliament.
In latter life he was host to the
exiled Queen of Haiti (the first independent black state in the
The pamphlet - that only cost £3
- is a good introduction to two important figures. Britain
certainly played a crucial role in the enforced black Diaspora
(along with Spain, Portugal, France and Islamic elements in
Africa itself) but it also realised the evil that this was and
took steps to end it. We should not forget the part our nation
played in the trade (the wealth from which underpinned the birth
of the Empire), nor the efforts that good folk made to end it.
© All work copyright of Cardinal Cox.