Anti-Slavery International.

January 2023 marks the bicentenary of the formation in England of the organisation now known as Anti-Slavery International. It is the oldest international human rights organisation in the world.Slavery had been outlawed in the British Empire in 1833, but it was imperfectly enforced and it still existed in other countires, most notably the US. Committed, highly motivated and well organised abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic realised that strength lay in coordinated action, and this led to the 1840 International Anti-Slavery Convention, held for 11 days in London. 500…

Thomas Drew

Drew was born in Limerick in 1800 and studied at Trinity College Dublin. He was ordained as a priest in the Church of Ireland and served as a curate in Antrim and later as the first incumbent of Christ Church in Belfast.Drew built over 20 low-church style churches and schools in the area and was a fervent member of the Orange Order and a Tory. He opposed Catholic emancipation and high-church Anglicanism, and refused to accept the 1841 census that showed Catholics as the largest denomination in Ireland.He founded the…

Francis Anderson Calder

Francis Anderson Calder was born in 1787 and served in the Royal Navy between 1803 and 1815.After naval service, he founded the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1836 with the purpose to ‘Prevent Cruelty and Relieve Suffering’ to animals. It is the second oldest animal welfare charity in the world.He also paid for the construction between 1843 and 1855 of ten public water-troughs for the use of cattle including the present day one outside the Customs House.Anderson Calder was active in the Belfast Anti-Slavery Society.…

Henry Cooke

He was the youngest son of John Cooke, a tenant farmer of Grillagh, by his second wife, Jane Howie or Howe, of Scottish descent, and was born on 11 May 1788. The 1798 Rebellion was said to have a powerful influence on his religious and political views. Cooke adopted the Non-Arian Old Light position in the Presbyterian tradition. Non-Arians tended to take a dogmatic, prescriptive and conservative view of Presbyterianism, rejecting the liberal views of the Arians based on following conscience and reason in matters of faith. He had a…

What had Henry Cooke got to do with slavery?

The ANTISLAVERY BELFAST TOUR reveals the story ofBelfast’s involvement in this shameful transatlantic trade and the inspiringrole of anti-slavery campaigners who ensured Belfast never profited from thetrade in the same way as cities such as London, Liverpool, Glasgow or Bristol. Tours from The Salmon of Knowledge (The Big Fish) DonegallQuay Belfast BT1 3NG on Saturdays (Infois here!).

Richard Davis Webb, publisher, Quaker and abolitionist

Richard Davis Webb (1805–1872) was an Irish publisher, Quaker and abolitionist. He was a founding member of the Hibernian Antislavery Association in 1837 and was one of the Irish delegates at the 1840 Anti-Slavery Convention in London.Frederick Douglass was introduced to Webb in 1845, shortly after he published his narrative, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.” Webb was impressed by Douglass’s eloquence and became a strong supporter of his work. He arranged for Douglass to speak at various Quaker meetings in the northeastern United States and…

Mary Ann McCracken

Mary Ann McCracken was born on July 8, 1770, to Captain and Ann McCracken (nee Joy). Her grandfather, Francis Joy, founded the Belfast Newsletter in 1737 and was one of the Belfast merchants who did a thriving business supplying rough linen clothing and salted provisions to the sugar plantations of the West Indies. McCracken came from a liberal background and attended David Manston’s co-educational school, a radical institution in the late 18th century. She had sympathies with the United Irishmen and was a lifelong abolitionist. In 1845, she helped establish…

Robert Neil, watchmaker, abolitionist and activist

Robert Neil was a silversmith who started business in 1803 in High Street. He was a partner with Henry L. Gardner and helped turn the firm into a successful company of jewellers, watchmakers and opticians. He was married to Letitia and had nine surviving children. He was an advocate of radical, progressive causes and was involved in various activities such as anti-slavery, Parliamentary reform, and support for the Belfast Poor House. He was a strong anti-slavery man and hosted visiting abolitionist lecturers such as William Lloyd Garrison, Henry C. Wright,…

The Middle Passage of Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Middle Passage refers to the stage of the transatlantic slave trade where enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from West and Central Africa to the Americas. The voyage was called the “Middle Passage” because it was the middle leg of a three-part journey, with the other two legs being the journey from Africa to the slave-trading ports and the journey from the Americas to the final destinations of the enslaved Africans. The Middle Passage was characterized by horrific conditions on the slave ships, where enslaved Africans were…

Find out about this mural!

The ANTISLAVERY BELFAST TOUR reveals the story ofBelfast’s involvement in this shameful transatlantic trade and the inspiringrole of anti-slavery campaigners who ensured Belfast never profited from thetrade in the same way as cities such as London, Liverpool, Glasgow or Bristol. Tours from The Salmon of Knowledge (The Big Fish) DonegallQuay Belfast BT1 3NG on Saturdays (Infois here!).

International Transatlantic Slave Trade

The transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in human history and completely changed Africa, the Americas and Europe. Between the 1400s and 1800s, 12-15 million men, women and children were forcibly transported from Africa to the Americas. Britain’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade officially began, with royal approval, in 1663 with the creation of the Royal African Company (RAC). Between 1662 and 1807, British and British colonial ships purchased an estimated 3,415,500 Africans. Of this number, 2,964,800 survived the ‘middle passage’ and were sold into slavery in…

Thomas Paine, Rights of Man and the abolition of Slavery

Thomas Paine was an influential 18th-century writer and philosopher, best known for his political writings advocating for the American Revolution and the rights of man. Paine was born in England in 1737 and emigrated to the American colonies in 1774, where he wrote his most famous work, “Common Sense,” a political pamphlet that played a major role in the American Revolution. In 1791, Paine published “Rights of Man,” a response to Edmund Burke’s critique of the French Revolution. In this work, Paine argued for the rights of man and the…

Why did it take so long?

The Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade received royal assent on 25 March 1807. It prohibited the slave trade in the British Empire but did not abolish the practice of slavery. Slavery was abolished in most of the British Empire in 1833. Why did it take 26 years between the abolition slave trade and the abolition of slavery itself? The 26 year gap between the abolition of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery itself was due to various political, economic, and social factors. One of the…

William Drennan

William Drennan was born in Belfast in 1754. He was one of 11 siblings, but only 3 survived infancy. Drennan studied at the University of Glasgow, a centre of the Scottish Enlightenment. He came to national attention through his publication of “Letters of Orellana,” supporting radical constitutional reform. In 1791, Drennan proposed a “benevolent conspiracy” for the “Rights of Man” and independence for Ireland. In 1793, he was arrested for sedition, but successfully defended himself at trial. Though Drennan did not write extensively about abolition, his friends, family and associates…

St Patrick the slave

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and is widely celebrated on March 17th as St. Patrick’s Day. He is known for bringing Christianity to Ireland and for using the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. According to tradition, Saint Patrick was born in Britain in the late 4th century and was captured by Irish raiders at the age of 16. He was taken as a slave to Ireland and spent six years working as a shepherd. During this time, he turned to faith and prayer and eventually…

Slavery justification or not in the bible

The Bible was used by both abolitionists and pro-slavery campaigners to support their views.Some passages to support slavery included: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Ephesians 6:5) “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” (1 Peter 2:18) “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand,…

Richard Allen

Richard Allen was born to Edward and Ellen Allen at Harold’s Cross near Dublin. He was the second of fifteen children. An orthodox Quaker, his business was in textiles but his interests were in reform, temperance and the abolition of slavery. He married Ann Webb in 1828. In 1837, Allen was one of three founding members, with James Haughton and Richard Davis Webb, of the Hibernian Antislavery Association. This was not the first antislavery association but it was acknowledged to be the most active. Allen served as the secretary of…