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Home / Culture and Heritage / St John's College Library / Diaries and journals / Clarkson's Diary of Travels in West Country and Wales, 25 June 1787
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Clarkson's Diary of Travels in West Country and Wales, 25 June 1787


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Clarkson, Thomas (1760-1846) was a leading campaigner against the slave trade in the British Empire. He attended St John's College as a student. In 1787 he set off for a two year-travel around Britain to promote the abolitionist cause and to collect evidence about slave trade, which he recorded in his diary.

This passage records his thoughts on entering Bristol, a major port for slave trade. The weather and the church bells ringing create an ominous atmosphere and he worries about the difficult task ahead of him: to stop the slave trade which is a major contributor to the wealth of the city he is about to enter.

The text reads:

25 July 1787.

I left this City at 6 o Clock & arrived at Bristol 12 miles on at 8 - when I came within a Mile of this City the weather not being quite clear, it appeared to be very bulky. The Bells of some of the Churches were ringing at the Time. This was productive of some odd Sensations. I began rather to tremble at the arduous Task of attempting to subvert a Branch of the Trade of this large City, and to encounter an Host of People in it - However I became soon calm and collected, and seemed to gain fresh Spirits from my former Sensations which only confirmed me the more, that I must be doubly diligent, active and persevering in the Cause, which I had undertaken - with these resolutions I entered the City, determining that no Labour should appear too arduous, and no Treatment from the Inhabitants, should they to know my errand, be too horrid to deter me.

29th Jul 2010 by Hazel Pointon


Key Stages:
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4

Antislavery Slavery Slave trade Clarkson Bristol Diary

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