Dissenting Missionaries, Public Opinion and the Campaign Against British Colonial Slavery, 1831-1834

HAIGH, Gordon Robert (2020). Dissenting Missionaries, Public Opinion and the Campaign Against British Colonial Slavery, 1831-1834. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00299


This thesis explores the relationship between the persecution of missionaries in the Caribbean and the mobilisation of the British public against slavery. It focuses on the response in Britain following a major slave insurrection in Jamaica at Christmas 1831 when Baptist missionaries were falsely accused by the planters of instigating the event. It examines how the British press, missionary societies and abolitionists reacted to news of the missionaries’ persecution and discusses how this energised evangelicals to engage in antislavery politics. Historians have acknowledged that evangelicals were a powerful force in the ending of slavery in the 1830s and this thesis begins by discussing the historiography concerning the relationship between evangelicals, missions and anti-slavery. It moves on to provide a general outline context of the history of evangelicalism, missions and anti-slavery in Britain. It also briefly discusses earlier instances of intense persecution of missionaries in the Caribbean, following a slave uprising in 1823, and the impact of this in Britain. The thesis then focuses on exploring the reactions in Britain to the persecution of the missionaries in Jamaica. It discusses the responses in the press and missionary society periodicals, and influence on public opinion regarding slavery. It then examines the impact of the speaking tours of Britain conducted by missionaries who returned from Jamaica, especially the Reverend William Knibb, who conducted a two-year national public speaking campaign calling for the immediate ending of slavery. Finally, it examines the impact of evidence presented to Parliamentary Select Committees by the returned missionaries. The thesis concludes that the news of the persecuted missionaries in Jamaica and the missionaries’ own public speaking tour were major factors in motivating the evangelical public to play a significant role in the final stages of the antislavery campaign that resulted in the successful passage of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Twells, Alison [0000-0003-2602-0029]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Professor Alison Twells
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00299
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2020 15:36
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:02
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27167

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