Thomas and John Clarkson

The Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds (Bury Festival)

The Athenaeum, Bury St Edmunds (Bury Festival)

To mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade this illustrated talk by historian Maureen James was extremely topical and informative.

The underlying theme was that Thomas and John were very much 'men behind the scenes'.

Thomas followed his late father's footsteps into the church and whilst at Cambridge wrote a thesis on the slave trade.


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This eventually took him on the long and often rocky campaign path to abolish the slave trade, and he was a major force behind William Wilberforce.

John on the other hand joined in later in life after his naval career and he helped return former slaves from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone.

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Both had strong links with Suffolk - Thomas married his wife, Catherine Buck, from Bury St Edmunds where they lived for several years. John moved to Woodbridge where he later died.

The part the brothers played in an important chapter of world history is something people are beginning to recognise.

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