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24 September 2014

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You are in: Tyne > History > Local History > There's Death in the Pot!

Summerhill Terrace, Newcastle

Anna lived in the Summerhill area

There's Death in the Pot!

Find out how two 19th-Century Newcastle women made their mark on the abolition movement.

The anti-slavery movement and Quaker Women in nineteenth-century Newcastle

In 1847, as he prepared to return to America after an eighteen month tour of the United Kingdom, Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist, paid warm tribute to the "unbounded" kindness of his "friends in the north".

Five years later, another black American abolitionist, William Wells Brown, wrote that "In no place in the United Kingdom has the American Slave warmer friends than in Newcastle."

Leaflets for abolition meetings

There were male and female anti-slavery societies

Brown and Douglass had both arrived in this country as fugitive slaves who ran the risk of re-enslavement when they landed on American soil once more.

Their remarks are an acknowledgement of the important role played by two Newcastle women, Quaker sisters-in-law Anna and Ellen Richardson, in enabling them to return to America as free men.

Quakers prominent

The abolition movement, which was active from the 1780s to the 1860s, used a network of local societies to agitate against the institution of slavery.

Every town and city had its anti-slavery society, and Newcastle was no exception.

"Anna and Ellen continued to agitate against slavery until emancipation came in America in 1863."

Doctor Elizabeth O'Donnell

The first was set up in 1791 to campaign against British involvement in the slave trade. Then, following the 1807 Act, the movement was revived in the 1820s (against British colonial slavery) and again in the late 1830s (to press for universal emancipation).

Women were involved almost from the beginning, as subscribers to the cause and in their own Ladies' Anti-Slavery Committees, set up by 1830. As in the men's societies, female members of Newcastle's small but vigorous Quaker community were prominent.

The women's society raised funds and awareness of the issue, for example through a petition presented to Parliament in 1833, signed by 5,956 women of Newcastle and Gateshead and demanding the immediate abolition of West Indian slavery.

Click on NEXT to find out how Anna and Ellen helped to free Frederick Douglass.

last updated: 12/03/2008 at 15:18
created: 24/03/2007

You are in: Tyne > History > Local History > There's Death in the Pot!

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