Sir Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet

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Sir Fowell Buxton

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]

Buxton was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex. His father was also named Thomas Fowell Buxton. His mother's maiden name was Anna Hanbury. Through the influence of his mother, who was a Quaker, 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]

Early life

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. Later he became sole owner.

Although he was a member of the Church of England, Buxton attended meetings of the Religious Society of 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.[3] He also opposed capital punishment and pushed for its abolition. Although he never accomplished this last goal during his lifetime, he worked to restrict those crimes for which capital punishment was sentenced; the number of crimes punishable by death was reduced from more than 200 to eight.

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 tuberculosis (consumption) some time later.


Isaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writer Samuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian Journalist William Morgan from Birmingham William Forster - Quaker leader George Stacey - Quaker leader William Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassador John Burnet -Abolitionist Speaker William Knibb -Missionary to Jamaica Joseph Ketley from Guyana George Thompson - UK & US abolitionist J. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary) Josiah Forster - Quaker leader Samuel Gurney - the Banker's Banker Sir John Eardley-Wilmot Dr Stephen Lushington - MP and Judge Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton James Gillespie Birney - American John Beaumont George Bradburn - Massachusetts politician George William Alexander - Banker and Treasurer Benjamin Godwin - Baptist activist Vice Admiral Moorson William Taylor William Taylor John Morrison GK Prince Josiah Conder Joseph Soul James Dean (abolitionist) John Keep - Ohio fund raiser Joseph Eaton Joseph Sturge - Organiser from Birmingham James Whitehorne Joseph Marriage George Bennett Richard Allen Stafford Allen William Leatham, banker William Beaumont Sir Edward Baines - Journalist Samuel Lucas Francis August Cox Abraham Beaumont Samuel Fox, Nottingham grocer Louis Celeste Lecesne Jonathan Backhouse Samuel Bowly William Dawes - Ohio fund raiser Robert Kaye Greville - Botanist Joseph Pease, railway pioneer W.T.Blair M.M. Isambert (sic) Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in law William Tatum Saxe Bannister - Pamphleteer Richard Davis Webb - Irish Nathaniel Colver - American not known John Cropper - Most generous Liverpudlian Thomas Scales William James William Wilson Thomas Swan Edward Steane from Camberwell William Brock Edward Baldwin Jonathon Miller Capt. Charles Stuart from Jamaica Sir John Jeremie - Judge Charles Stovel - Baptist Richard Peek, ex-Sheriff of London John Sturge Elon Galusha Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor Rev. Isaac Bass Henry Sterry Peter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. Manchester J.H. Johnson Thomas Price Joseph Reynolds Samuel Wheeler William Boultbee Daniel O'Connell - "The Liberator" William Fairbank John Woodmark William Smeal from Glasgow James Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalist Rev. Dr. Thomas Binney Edward Barrett - Freed slave John Howard Hinton - Baptist minister John Angell James - clergyman Joseph Cooper Dr. Richard Robert Madden - Irish Thomas Bulley Isaac Hodgson Edward Smith Sir John Bowring - diplomat and linguist John Ellis C. Edwards Lester - American writer Tapper Cadbury - Businessman not known Thomas Pinches David Turnbull - Cuban link Edward Adey Richard Barrett John Steer Henry Tuckett James Mott - American on honeymoon Robert Forster (brother of William and Josiah) Richard Rathbone John Birt Wendell Phillips - American M. L'Instant from Haiti Henry Stanton - American Prof William Adam Mrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South African T.M. McDonnell Mrs John Beaumont Anne Knight - Feminist Elizabeth Pease - Suffragist Jacob Post - Religious writer Anne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wife Amelia Opie - Novelist and poet Mrs Rawson - Sheffield campaigner Thomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas Clarkson Thomas Morgan Thomas Clarkson - main speaker George Head Head - Banker from Carlisle William Allen John Scoble Henry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionist Use 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.[4] Move your cursor to identify him or click icon to enlarge

The slave trade had been abolished in 1808, but Buxton began to work for the abolition of the institution of slavery. In 1823 he helped found the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery (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.[5] Buxton took over as leader of the abolition movement in the British House of Commons after William Wilberforce retired in 1825.

He achieved his goal in 1833, when slavery was officially abolished in the British Empire, except in India, where it was part of the indigenous culture. 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% of the group dying rapidly, that they cut short the mission in 1841.

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.

In 1840 Buxton was created a baronet. His health failed gradually – according to some, due to disappointment over the failed mission to Africa. He died five years later.

Founding chairman of RSPCA

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.)[6] The 22 founding members included William Wilberforce, Richard Martin, Sir James Mackintosh, Basil Montagu, and Rev. Arthur Broome. Buxton was appointed chairman for the year 1824.[7]

Legacy and honours


Buxton had a number of notable descendants (5 sons and 6 daughters):[9]

Sir Edward North Buxton, 2nd Baronet (1812–1858): married Catherine Gurney (7 sons,5 daughters)

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 3rd Baronet (1837–1915): married Lady Victoria Noel
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–?)
Leland William Wilberforce Buxton (1884–1967)
Samuel Gurney Buxton (1838–February 1909), of Catton. High Sheriff of Norfolk for 1891-92
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 (6 sons,5 daughters)

Elizabeth Ellen Buxton (later Barclay) (1848–1919)
John Henry Buxton (1849–1934): director of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton Brewery, chairman of the London Hospital
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 (2 sons,4 daughters)

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

Priscilla Buxton (died 1852): married Andrew Johnston, MP (c.1798–1862) (2 sons, 4 daughters)

Andrew Johnston, MP (1835–1895)
Fowell Buxton (born 1839): Army Officer, married Alice Douglas
Edward Johnston (1872–1944): Graphic designer


  • 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 edn, May 2010 accessed 25 April 2013.
  2.  [ "Buxton, Thomas Fowell (1786-1845)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. LGH's ODNB entry: Retrieved 1 October 2011. Subscription required.
  4. 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
  5. Sheridan 2002, p. 247.
  6. 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), 269 & 280.
  7. Edward G. Fairholme & Wellesley Pain, A Century of Work for Animals: The History of the R.S.P.C.A., 1824-1934(London: John Murray, 1934), 54 & 301. Arthur W. Moss, Valiant Crusade: The History of the R.S.P.C.A. (London: Cassell, 1961), 22-23. Brown, Who Cares For Animals?, 16.
  8. Sir Thomas Buxton
  9. Foster, J. The royal lineage of our noble and gentle families. p. 138.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Barclay, Oliver (2001). Thomas Fowell Buxton and the liberation of slaves. York: William Sessions.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Binney, Thomas (1853) [1849]. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Bart. A study for young men. London: J. Nisbet & Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Buxton, Charles, ed. (1848). Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton Bart. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Folett, Richard R. (2008). "After Emancipation: Thomas Fowell Buxton and Evangelical Politics in the 1830s". Parliamentary History. 27: 119–129.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Rodriguez, Junius P. (2007). Encyclopedia of Emancipation and Abolition in the Transatlantic World. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Temperley, Howard (1972). British antislavery, 1833–1870. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Walls, Andrew (1991). The Legacy of Thomas Fowell Buxton. International Bulletin of Missionary Research. 15. pp. 74–77.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Masterton Ure
Christopher Idle
Adolphus John Dalrymple
Member of Parliament for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis
With: 3-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