James Ramsay and the Slave Trade

After years of service in the West Indies, writes Ian Bradley, Ramsay in England helped to inspire the crusade for Abolition.

In the autumn of 1786 two men met in the vicarage of the small village of Teston in Kent and talked about the condition of the negro slaves in the British sugar colonies of the West Indies.

What he learned at that meeting resolved the younger of the two, William Wilberforce, to think seriously about taking up the abolition of the slave trade as his life’s work.

The man who played so large a part in this historic decision was the Vicar of Teston, the Revd James Ramsay.

During a stay of nineteen years in the West Indies, he had been so outraged by the way that the slaves were treated that when he returned to England he became the first great propagandist in the crusade that was to culminate in the passing of the 1807 Act abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.

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