Remembering Slavery

Remembering Slavery Online Exhibition

Campaigning against slavery in the North East: the men and women behind the campaign

Abolishing slavery was a long and drawn out process. It took centuries of resistance by the enslaved in the Caribbean and the Americas and decades of campaigning in the European slaving nations. The British campaign drew support from men, women and children across the country including people in the North East.

More information about slavery in 1807


In the mid-1700s, a small number of British people began to argue that slavery was immoral. They exposed the high death rates of the Africans on the slave ships and their miserable working conditions on the plantations. During the 1780s and '90s the campaign attracted more support around the country. The campaign leaders finally succeeded in persuading Parliament to pass the 1807 Act of Parliament which stopped ships carrying enslaved Africans to British colonies.



The anti-slavery movement gathered more supporters after 1807 and in 1833 an Act to abolish slavery in the British colonies was passed by Parliament. It took another 5 years before the enslaved were granted full freedom, as their owners were allowed to keep them on as bonded or indentured slaves until 1838.



Many abolitionists in Britain carried on campaigning to abolish slavery in other parts of the world. Slavery in the United States was finally abolished in 1865: many North East people had worked hard to bring this about.

Take a look

  • Grey's Monument in Newcastle was erected to celebrate the life of Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey of Howick in Northumberland (1764-1845). He supported the anti-slavery cause in Parliament as Foreign Secretary and later as Prime Minister.
  • Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846) was a dedicated anti-slavery campaigner and collected evidence of the appalling conditions the enslaved Africans had to endure.
  • William Wilberforce (1759-1833) used his position as the Member of Parliament for Hull to argue against the slave trade. In 1807 he finally persuaded all but 16 Members of Parliament to vote in favour of the 1807 Act that ended the slave trade in the British colonies.
  • Granville Sharp (1735-1813) grew up in Durham. He joined the anti-slavery campaign in the late 1700s and helped free slaves through the courts.
  • Olaudah Equiano (about 1745-1792) was a former slave who bought his own freedom and wrote a powerful book about his life. In 1792 he visited Durham, Stockton and Newcastle whilst campaigning against slavery.
  • Reverend William Turner (1761 -1859) was a Minister at Newcastle's Hanover Square Chapel and a leading campaigner against the slave trade. He chaired the Newcastle Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1792-'93 and supported later campaigns to abolish slavery in the British colonies.
  • This bust of James Losh (1762-1833) can be seen at the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society today. Losh was the Society's Vice President for 34 years and a keen supporter of the anti-slavery movement in Newcastle.
  • Many Quakers and members of other Non-Conformist churches, outside the Church of England, were very active in the anti-slavery movement. The Brunswick Methodist Church in Newcastle hosted abolitionist meetings.
  • Local Quaker families played a leading role the Newcastle anti-slavery movement. Many of them lived in the Summerhill area of West Newcastle. Anna Richardson and her husband, Henry, welcomed several African-American anti-slavery campaigners into their home on Summerhill Grove.
  • In the summer of 1846 the escaped slave, Frederick Douglass, stayed with the Richardsons during his lecture tour of Britain. Anna and Henry helped raise money to buy Douglass' freedom so that he could return safely to the United States without fear of enslavement.

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