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24 September 2014

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You are in: Leicester > Abolition > Elizabeth Heyrick

Elizabeth Heyrick's abolition pamphlet

'Immediate not gradual abolition'

Elizabeth Heyrick

Elizabeth Heyrick was born in Leicester in the late 1700s and during her life she campaigned for an end to not just the slave trade, but to slavery itself. She had a great impact on the social reformers of the time, including William Wilberforce.

Elizabeth Heyrick was an avid campaigner for the immediate abolition of slavery.

She wasn't afraid to take on the establishment or leading abolitionists like William Wilberforce and his friends, arguing that it wasn't enough to abolish the slave trade – but the whole institution of slavery should be done away with immediately.

BBC Radio Leicester's Bridget Blair went to find out more about Elizabeth Heyrick…

Heyrick wrote pamphlets to promote her cause and with her friend, Susannah Watts, she formed the Birmingham Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves.

Elizabeth Heyrick's pamphlet

Heyrick's pamphlet calling for abolition

They raised money for the Antislavery Society, Wilberforce's group, but they were only just tolerated by the male abolitionists.

Wilberforce was unhappy with the idea of women campaigning, but by this time Heyrick had become the Treasurer of the Birmingham Ladies Society, and she proposed that the women should threaten to withdraw funding to the Antislavery Society if immediate abolition wasn't called for.

The resolution was carried, and so Heyrick got her way. However after campaigning long and hard for abolition, she died in 1837 before witnessing the end of slavery.

Her legacy lives on though, and Jess Jenkins, a researcher from the Records Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, says her impact on abolition can't be underestimated:

"In America she was remembered as the first one to speak out for the abolition of slavery, so I think that's a tremendous thing for Leicester to be proud of."

last updated: 16/04/2008 at 14:10
created: 20/03/2007

You are in: Leicester > Abolition > Elizabeth Heyrick

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