The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Am I Not a Man and a Brother

We recently came across the following newspaper cutting from the Ipswich Journal for 1752

February 8th 1752

Run away from Josuah Steel of Hall Place, Berkshire, a handsome black slave-5ft 4 inches high-the property of Mrs Sarah Steel of Barbadoes, his plantation name is "Sambo" but he has assumed the name of William Gardener, anyone who harbours him will be prosecuted under the law or anyone giving information shall receive one guinea reward.

Poor Mr Gardener. The presence of Black Africans in Britain was not unusual at the time, as West Indians were widely employed in both the army and Navy. However, it would have been difficult to remain inconspicuous. In East Anglia, he would have met a great deal of sympathy, which is possibly why Josuah Steel went to the expense of advertising in the Ipswich-based newspaper.

There was, at the time, a fashion to have a black slave, and 'Sambo' was a common 'Plantation' name. One remembers "Sambo's Grave" in Lancaster, with the poigniant inscription.

Full sixty years the angry winter's wave,
Has thundering dashed this bleak and barren shore,
Since Sambo's head laid in this lonely grave,
Lies still and ne'er will hear their turmoil more.
Full many a sandbird chirps upon the sod,
And many a moonlight elfin round him trips,
Full many a summer's sunbeam warms the clod,
And many a teeming cloud upon him drips.
But still he sleeps - till the awakening sounds,
Of the Archangel's trump new life impart,
Then the Great Judge his approbation founds,
Not on man's colour but his worth of heart.

At the time, slaves were not allowed to be buried on consecrated ground.

Without doubt, the slave Trade hade done a great deal to enhance the prosperity of London, Bristol, Liverpool and the other great trading ports, and continued to do so at the time. However, East Anglia gained little from the economic boom that came from the exploitation of the American continent using slave labour. It was here that campaigners such as Thomas Clarkson gained his best reception. Clarkson was a Wisbech man, born in 1760. Coleridge called him the 'moral Steam-Engine', the power behind Wilberforce's political campaign. He worked tirelessly to gather information about the cruelty of enslavement, which he presented at local meetings and to local communities. He gathered 1500 petitions to lobby Parliament signed by a million and a half people in Britain and encouraged boycotts against products made under slavery. Around 300,000 people refused to buy sugar, which had been produced in the British West Indies. One can do no better than to quote from our own newspaper records to illustrate a century of continuing opposition to the Slave trade.

March 26th 1788

On Saturday last at a meeting at the Assembly House in our town, of taking consideration on application to Parliament for the abolishment of the slave trade. Sir Charles Bunbury proposed the motion and Arthur Young seconded it.

February 15th 1792

A meeting of the inhabitants of Bury was held with James Mathew chairman, it was resolved to petition Parliament for the abolision of the slave trade.

April 16th 1823

Some interesting extracts from a pamphlet on abolishment of slavery will be found on this page, notice has been given in the House of Commons of a motion on gradual abolition of this disgrace to human nature.

March 3rd 1824

A petition now in circulation in Sudbury for the gradual emancipation of slaves in the West Indies has been signed by 350 persons and will be sent to Parliament.

April 20th 1831

Editorial of Bury Post----We rejoice that the ministers are resolved to proceed in the work of preparation for the slave and his freedom and will neither be deluded by the sophistry nor deterred by the blustering of the planters.

May 8th 1833

The Duke of Wellington has told us that the West India slaves must be gradually emancipated because they are better off than if they were free

September 6th 1837

The Rev Dr Price has rendered an important service to humanity by a statement of a Negro slave recently freed from apprenticeship, the statement says
" I am about 18 years, I was a slave to Mr Senior and his sister and brought up in the place where they live called Penhurst in Jamacia in St Anne's parish, I have been ill treated by Mr Senior and the magistrate when the new law came in, apprentices get a good deal of punishment since they were slaves, the master to spite do all they can to hurt before free they come, I have heard my master say " those English devils say we to be free but he will pretty well weaken us before the 6 and 4 years be done and we shall be no use to ourselves afterwards".

July 18th 1838

Thank God that in another fortnight, slavery will cease to exist in the British West India Colony.

January 30th 1850

JUST PUBLISHED, price 2d----MAN STEALING by PROXY or the guilt of our countrymen in up holding the SLAVE TRADE by the purchasing of SLAVE GROWN PRODUCE by John Fitzgerald.

June 12th 1866

A lecture on slavery was delivered in the Town Hall, Bury, on Monday evening by the Rev J. Hughes, a coloured Minister from the state of Maryland on "the former and present conditions of the emancipated slaves through the American war", a collection was made at the close.


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