1795 WILLIAM WILBERFORCE & CLAPHAM SECT. Two Autograph Letters to Hannah More Re: Slavery & Religious Matters
1795 WILLIAM WILBERFORCE & CLAPHAM SECT. Two Autograph Letters to Hannah More Re: Slavery & Religious Matters
1795 WILLIAM WILBERFORCE & CLAPHAM SECT. Two Autograph Letters to Hannah More Re: Slavery & Religious Matters
1795 WILLIAM WILBERFORCE & CLAPHAM SECT. Two Autograph Letters to Hannah More Re: Slavery & Religious Matters

1795 WILLIAM WILBERFORCE & CLAPHAM SECT. Two Autograph Letters to Hannah More Re: Slavery & Religious Matters

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A wonderful pair of letters, both addressed to Hannah More. 

The first is addressed to Mrs More, Barleywood Bristol and dated to London, May 7, 1806. It is entirely in the hand of important Clapham Sect member and friend of William Wilberforce, Henry Thornton [1760-1815]. Thornton was one of the founders of the Clapham Sect, his father being John Thornton, Rector of Clapham. He was an earnest Evangelical, being head of the influential Cheap Repository for Tracts [which distributed most of Hannah More's writings] in 1795.

He was one of Wilberforce's closest friends, and relationally a cousin. Both inside and outside Parliament, he was at the foredge of the battle for the abolition of the slave trade. They actually bought a home together at Battersea Ridge and coordinated their abolitionist efforts from there. He was also one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the Christian Observer Magazine. 

The present informal letter addresses the very recent death of William Pitt and the concern of Thornton and Wilberforce in repalacing him. By repute, the "he" in the letter is Wilberforce, which seems consistent. Pitt had passed away just three months previous:

"He says that there will soon be a great dearth of eminent Statesmen. Pitt is dead and he shall not live a great while and the Lord Henry Petty is a very able youn man, yet he does not come near to eithe of them by an immeasurable distance. It is most true and I am rather ****** to admire him for his frankness than to consider it as vanity. 

I hope you have taken care to continue the British Critic & Observer.

Signed "HfreeThronton" on the address panel. 

The second is dated February 4, 1795 from Beilby Porteus, the Bishop of London and one of the most significant voices for evangelical religion and for the abolition of slavery. His sermon against the slave trade was a line in the sand for any British subjects who considered themselves to be followers of the Christ. Underwritten as much of the church was by those who subsidized, participated in, and benefited from slavery, it was an act of true moral heroism. He writes to Hannah More requesting the distribution of her Cheap Tracts to clergy, etc., This is the same year the Cheap Tract Repository, run by Thornton above, was founded. 

My Dear Mrs. M.

I now send you a list of Clergymen in my Diocese to whom I wish you may send some of your pacquets. Those I have marked with a Cross will probably be the most active.

Marshall has sent me a pacquet of Mason's Ballands, very elegantly printed indeed & on fine paper. But I hope he means to print 100,000 of them in the cheapest form, & dispense them by his missionaries over London, Westminister & the whole Kingdom. They will I am sure sell well & do infinite service. Pray tell him this.

WE propose setting for you on our Journey abou thte middle of next week. If you have any further commands for me give ma a line before that time. 

God bless you & your labours. 
Ever Yours,
BL [Bishop of London]. 

A fine little grouping of very practical, working documents from within the Clapham Sect demonstrating their ongoing commitment and work in the areas of evangelical religion and social justice.