Fowell Buxton

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Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet (1 April 1786[1] – 19 February 1845) was an English Member of Parliament, brewer, abolitionist and social reformer.[2] He had connections with the Gurney family.

Sir Fowell Buxton

Early lifeEdit

Buxton was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex. His father, also named Thomas Fowell Buxton, died young, leaving three sons and two daughters. His mother's maiden name was Anna Hanbury, a Quaker. Through her influence Buxton became associated with the Gurney family of Earlham Hall, Norwich. He was especially close to Joseph John Gurney, his sister the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, and their sister Hannah, whom he married in May 1807. He lived at Northrepps Hall in Norfolk.[citation needed] He completed his education at Trinity College Dublin.[3]

In 1808, Buxton's Hanbury family connections led to an appointment to work at the brewery of Truman, Hanbury & Company, in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London. In 1811 he was made a partner in the business, renamed Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. He later became sole owner.

Although he was a member of the Church of England, Buxton attended meetings of the Friends (Quakers) with some of the Gurneys. In this way he became involved in the social reform movement, in which Friends were prominent. He helped raise money for the weavers of London, who were being forced into poverty by the factory system. He provided financial support for Elizabeth Fry's prison reform work and joined her Association for the Improvement of the Female Prisoners in Newgate.

Buxton was elected to Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1818. As an MP he worked for changes in prison conditions and criminal law and for the abolition of slavery, in which he was helped by his sister-in-law Louisa Gurney Hoare.[citation needed] He also opposed capital punishment and pushed for its abolition. Although he never accomplished this last goal, he worked to restrict the crimes for which capital punishment was sentenced. The number was eventually reduced from over 200 to eight.

Among other things, he argued for the suppression of lotteries and abolition of the practice of burning widows in India.

Thomas and Hannah Buxton had eight children. Four of them died of whooping cough over a five-week period around April 1820. Another one died of consumption some time later. Hannah would send boxes of toys to the missionary Anna Hinderer in Nigeria in 1855. By 1866 her grandchildren were parcelling them up.[4]


Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writerSamuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian JournalistWilliam Morgan from BirminghamWilliam Forster - Quaker leaderGeorge Stacey - Quaker leaderWilliam Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassadorJohn Burnet -Abolitionist SpeakerWilliam Knibb -Missionary to JamaicaJoseph Ketley from GuyanaGeorge Thompson - UK & US abolitionistJ. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary)Josiah Forster - Quaker leaderSamuel Gurney - the Banker's BankerSir John Eardley-WilmotDr Stephen Lushington - MP and JudgeSir Thomas Fowell BuxtonJames Gillespie Birney - AmericanJohn BeaumontGeorge Bradburn - Massachusetts politicianGeorge William Alexander - Banker and TreasurerBenjamin Godwin - Baptist activistVice Admiral MoorsonWilliam TaylorWilliam TaylorJohn MorrisonGK PrinceJosiah ConderJoseph SoulJames Dean (abolitionist)John Keep - Ohio fund raiserJoseph EatonJoseph Sturge - Organiser from BirminghamJames WhitehorneJoseph MarriageGeorge BennettRichard AllenStafford AllenWilliam Leatham, bankerWilliam BeaumontSir Edward Baines - JournalistSamuel LucasFrancis August CoxAbraham BeaumontSamuel Fox, Nottingham grocerLouis Celeste LecesneJonathan BackhouseSamuel BowlyWilliam Dawes - Ohio fund raiserRobert Kaye Greville - BotanistJoseph Pease, railway pioneerW.T.BlairM.M. Isambert (sic)Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in lawWilliam TatumSaxe Bannister - PamphleteerRichard Davis Webb - IrishNathaniel Colver - Americannot knownJohn Cropper - Most generous LiverpudlianThomas ScalesWilliam JamesWilliam WilsonThomas SwanEdward Steane from CamberwellWilliam BrockEdward BaldwinJonathon MillerCapt. Charles Stuart from JamaicaSir John Jeremie - JudgeCharles Stovel - BaptistRichard Peek, ex-Sheriff of LondonJohn SturgeElon GalushaCyrus Pitt GrosvenorRev. Isaac BassHenry SterryPeter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. ManchesterJ.H. JohnsonThomas PriceJoseph ReynoldsSamuel WheelerWilliam BoultbeeDaniel O'Connell - "The Liberator"William FairbankJohn WoodmarkWilliam Smeal from GlasgowJames Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalistRev. Dr. Thomas BinneyEdward Barrett - Freed slaveJohn Howard Hinton - Baptist ministerJohn Angell James - clergymanJoseph CooperDr. Richard Robert Madden - IrishThomas BulleyIsaac HodgsonEdward SmithSir John Bowring - diplomat and linguistJohn EllisC. Edwards Lester - American writerTapper Cadbury - Businessmannot knownThomas PinchesDavid Turnbull - Cuban linkEdward AdeyRichard BarrettJohn SteerHenry TuckettJames Mott - American on honeymoonRobert Forster (brother of William and Josiah)Richard RathboneJohn BirtWendell Phillips - AmericanM. L'Instant from HaitiHenry Stanton - AmericanProf William AdamMrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South AfricanT.M. McDonnellMrs John BeaumontAnne Knight - FeministElizabeth Pease - SuffragistJacob Post - Religious writerAnne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wifeAmelia Opie - Novelist and poetMrs Rawson - Sheffield campaignerThomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas ClarksonThomas MorganThomas Clarkson - main speakerGeorge Head Head - Banker from CarlisleWilliam AllenJohn ScobleHenry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionistUse your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge) 
Buxton is on the left edge in this painting which is of the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention.[5] Move cursor to identify him or click icon to enlarge

The slave trade had been abolished in 1807, but Buxton began to work for the abolition of the institution of slavery. In 1823 he helped found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (later known as the Anti-Slavery Society). In the House of Commons in May 1823, Buxton introduced a resolution condemning the state of slavery as "repugnant to the principles of the British constitution and of the Christian religion", and called for its gradual abolition "throughout the British colonies". He also pressured the government to send dispatches to the colonies to improve the treatment of slaves.[6] Buxton took over as leader of the abolition movement in the British House of Commons after William Wilberforce retired in 1825.

He presented a petition to the House of Commons bearing 187,000 signatures. This had been partly organised by Priscilla Buxton in 1833, and the first two signatures were Amelia Opie's and hers.[7] He had achieved his goal when slavery was officially abolished in the British Empire, except in India and Ceylon. Buxton held his seat in Parliament until 1837.

In 1839 Buxton urged the British government to make treaties with African leaders to abolish the slave trade. The government in turn backed the Niger expedition of 1841 (not including Buxton) put together by missionary organizations, which was also going to work on trade. More than 150 people were part of the expedition, which reached the Niger Delta and began negotiations. The British suffered such high mortality from fevers, with more than 25 per cent of the group dying rapidly, that they cut short the mission in 1841.

The Buxton vault in Overstrand Church

David Livingstone was strongly influenced by Buxton's arguments that the African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of "legitimate trade" (in goods) and the spread of Christianity. He became a missionary in Africa and fought the slave trade all his life.

On 30 July 1840 Buxton was created a baronet.[8] His health failed gradually – according to some, due to disappointment over the failed mission to Africa. He died five years later at his home, North-Repps Hall, near Aylsham, and was buried at Overstrand.

Founding RSPCA chairmanEdit

On 16 June 1824 a meeting was held at Old Slaughter's Coffee House, St Martin's Lane, London, that created the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (It became the RSPCA when Queen Victoria gave royal assent in 1840.)[9] The 22 founding members included William Wilberforce, Richard Martin, Sir James Mackintosh, Basil Montagu and Reverend Arthur Broome. Buxton was appointed chairman for the year 1824.[10]

Legacy and honoursEdit


Buxton had a number of notable descendants (five sons and six daughters):[12]

Sir Edward North Buxton, 2nd Baronet (1812–1858) married Catherine Gurney (1814–1911, seven sons, five daughters).

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 3rd Baronet (1837–1915) married Lady Victoria Noel (1840–1916).
Sir Thomas Fowell Victor Buxton, 4th Baronet (1865–1919)
Noel Edward Noel-Buxton, 1st Baron Noel-Buxton (1869–1948)
Charles Roden Buxton (1875–1942)
Harold Jocelyn Buxton (1880–1976)
Leland William Wilberforce Buxton (1884–1967)
Samuel Gurney Buxton (1838 – February 1909), of Catton. High Sheriff of Norfolk for 1891–1892
Edward North Buxton, MP (1840–1924)
Henry Edmund Buxton (1844–1905)
Charles Louis Buxton (1846–1906)
Francis William Buxton (1847–1911)

Thomas Fowell Buxton (1822–1908) married Rachel Gurney (1823–1905, six sons, five daughters).

Elizabeth Ellen Buxton (later Barclay) (1848–1919)
John Henry Buxton (1849–1934), director of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton Brewery, chairman of the London Hospital
Arthur Buxton (1882–1958), Rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, and Chaplain to the Forces
Margaret Katherine Buxton (1885–1974)
David Charles McClintock (1913–2001), natural historian, botanist, horticulturist and author
Geoffrey Fowell Buxton (1852–1929), director of Barclays Bank
Alfred Fowell Buxton (1854–1952), chairman of London County Council
Barclay Fowell Buxton (1860–1946), missionary
Murray Barclay Buxton (1889–1940)
Alfred Barclay Buxton (1891–1940)
George Barclay Buxton (1892–1917)
Barclay Godfrey Buxton (1895–1986)

Charles Buxton, MP (1823–1871) married Emily Mary Holland (1824–1908, two sons, four daughters)

Bertram Henry Buxton (1852–1934)
Sydney Buxton, 1st Earl Buxton, MP (1853–1934)

Priscilla Buxton (1808–1852) married Andrew Johnston, MP (c. 1798–1862)[13] (2 sons, 4 daughters)

Andrew Johnston, MP (1835–1895)
Fowell Buxton Johnston (1839–1914), army officer, married Alice Douglas (1846–1891).
Edward Johnston (1872–1944), calligrapher

Thomas Mark Buxton (born 1874)


  • An Enquiry, Whether Crime and Misery are produced or prevented by our present system of Prison Discipline (1818)
  • The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy (London: J. Murray, 1839)


  1. ^ Olwyn Mary Blouet, "Buxton, Sir Thomas Fowell, first baronet (1786–1845)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online ed., May 2010 accessed 25 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Buxton, Thomas Fowell (1786–1845)" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of Useful Knowledge, Vol. III, London (1847) Charles Knight, p. 980.
  4. ^ Hugh Morrison; Mary Clare Martin (20 January 2017). Creating Religious Childhoods in Anglo-World and British Colonial Contexts, 1800–1950. Taylor & Francis. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-315-40876-7.
  5. ^ The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG599, Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1880
  6. ^ Sheridan 2002, p. 247.
  7. ^ Genius of Universal Emancipation. B. Lundy. 1833. p. 174.
  8. ^ "No. 19872". The London Gazette. 7 July 1840. p. 1599.
  9. ^ Antony Brown, Who Cares For Animals? 150 Years of the RSPCA (London: Heinemann,1974), 16. Kathryn Shevelow, For the Love of Animals: The Rise of the Animal Protection Movement (New York: Henry Holt, 2009), pp. 269 and 280.
  10. ^ Edward G. Fairholme and Wellesley Pain, A Century of Work for Animals: The History of the R.S.P.C.A., 1824–1934(London: John Murray, 1934), pp. 54 and 301. Arthur W. Moss, Valiant Crusade: The History of the R.S.P.C.A. (London: Cassell, 1961), pp. 22–23. Brown, Who Cares For Animals?, p. 16.
  11. ^ Work is underway for a monument to honour former MP, Thomas Fowell Buxton
  12. ^ Foster, J. The royal lineage of our noble and gentle families. p. 138.
  13. ^ Clare Midgley, "Buxton , Priscilla (1808–1852)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online ed., September 2015 accessed 25 June 2017


  • Barclay, Oliver (2001). Thomas Fowell Buxton and the liberation of slaves. York: William Sessions.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Binney, Thomas (1853) [1849]. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Bart. A study for young men. London: J. Nisbet & Co.
  • Buxton, Charles, ed. (1848). Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton Bart. London.
  • Buxton, Thomas (2009) [first published 1818]. An Inquiry, whether Crime and Misery are Produced or Prevented, by our Present System of Prison Discipline. Cambridge Library Collection – British and Irish History, 19th Century. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-00492-3.
  • Follett, Richard R. (2008). "After Emancipation: Thomas Fowell Buxton and Evangelical Politics in the 1830s". Parliamentary History. 27: 119–129.
  • Laidlaw, Zoe (2004). "Aunt Anna's Report: The Buxton Women and the Aborigines Select Committee, 1835–37". Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History. 32: 1–28.
  • Rodriguez, Junius P. (2007). Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Sheridan, Richard B. (2002). "The Condition of slaves on the sugar plantations of Sir John Gladstone in the colony of Demerara 1812 to 1849" (pdf). New West Indian Guide. 76 (3/4): 243–269.
  • Temperley, Howard (1972). British antislavery, 1833–1870. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Walls, Andrew (1991). The Legacy of Thomas Fowell Buxton. International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 15. pp. 74–77.

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Masterton Ure
Christopher Idle
Adolphus Dalrymple
Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
With: 4-seat constituency until 1832, then 2-seat
Masterton Ure, to 1832
Thomas Wallace, 1818–1828
John Gordon, 1826–1832
Edward Sugden, 1828–1831
Richard Weyland, 1831
Charles Baring Wall, 1831–1832
Sir Frederick George Johnstone, 1832–1835
William Wharton Burden, from 1835
Succeeded by
George Child-Villiers
George William Hope
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Belfield)
Succeeded by
Edward North Buxton