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William Wilberforce

The Clapham Sect

In 1792 Wilberforce and his family moved to Clapham, London. Wilberforce had visited Clapham many times from the late 1780s as he had family and friends there. The "Clapham Sect", as they were known, was made up of politicians, professionals and businessmen. They were a group of local philanthropists and were Anglican Evangelical Christians. Their aim was to make the world a more Christian place by living a true Christian life and pursuing good causes. They were mostly rich people who believed it was their duty to provide the poor with a better life. Clapham Sect members included: Thomas Clarkson, Granville Sharp, The Thornton Family, Henry Thornton, John Venn, Charles Grant, John Shore, Lord Teignmouth, James Stephen, Zachary Macaulay and William Smith. Many Clapham sect members were related: Wilberforce and Henry Thornton were second cousins and James Stephen married Wilberforce’s sister.

The Clapham Sect led a 25-year fight to end the slave trade and were involved in many other causes and movements including the establishment of the National Gallery, the RSPCA, the Bettering Society (formerly known as The Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor), and funding scientific research.

They also:
• Established soup kitchens
• Established lending libraries
• Established schools for the poor, deaf and blind
• Sponsored small pox vaccinations
• Campaigned for shorter working hours and better conditions in factories
• Went into prisons and released those in debt
• Funded and established hospitals
• Helped fund RSPCA and National Gallery
• Wrote books and magazines
• Distributed bibles around the world
• Sought more humane treatment for Native Americans and people of India
• Carried out missionary work in India and Africa
• Established the Bible Society

Look at this map to see where Clapham in London is.»

Document icon Learning article provided by: Wilberforce House, Hull | 

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