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Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson, slavery abolitionist


His Memorial inside St Mary's church, Playford, on the outskirts of Ipswich, Suffolk.


'Thomas Clarkson was born on 28 March 1760 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. He was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge, and whilst there he entered an essay competition entitled Is it lawful to enslave others against their will?. His research for this essay changed his life, and, having been ordained deacon, he never sought to be ordained a priest, but instead dedicated his life to the abolition of the slave trade and of slavery itself.


Working with a small group of other abolitionists, mainly Quakers, he travelled all over the country, to all major seaports, especially Bristol and Liverpool, seeking first-hand evidence of the facts and horrors of the slave trade. It was Clarkson’s detailed evidence, presented to Parliament over several years by his fellow-abolitionist William Wilberforce, which eventually led to the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, and of slavery throughout the British dominions in 1833.


Clarkson was the first president of the world’s first human rights organization, the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, now called Anti-Slavery International. He died in 1846, and was buried quietly near his home, Playford Hall in Suffolk, as was his wish. On 26 September 1996, the 150th anniversary of his death, a monument was unveiled to him and seven other abolitionists in Westminster Abbey.' - the Ely Diocesan website.


In Playford churchyard is the massive Thomas Clarkson monument. Its simple inscription reads Thomas Clarkson, Friend of Slaves.


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Uploaded on November 12, 2006