Fowell Buxton

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Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet Buxton of Belfield and Runton (1786–1845)

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.

Early life[edit]

Buxton was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex. His father, also named Thomas Fowell Buxton, died young, leaving three sons and two daughters. His Quaker mother's maiden name was Anna Hanbury. He completed his education at Trinity College Dublin,[3] graduating in 1807.[4]Through his mother's influence Buxton became associated with the Gurney family of Earlham Hall, Norwich, especially with Joseph John Gurney and Gurney's sister, the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. He married their sister Hannah in May 1807. He lived at Belfield House, Weymouth, Dorset in the constituency he represented as an MP,[5] and later at Northrepps Hall in Norfolk, where he died aged 57,[6]

In 1808, Buxton's Hanbury 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, and later its sole owner.

Although he was a member of the Church of England, Buxton attended Quaker meetings with some of the Gurneys, and so became involved in the social reform movement, in which Friends were prominent. He helped to 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 that, he worked to restrict the crimes for which capital punishment could be meeted, whose number eventually fell from over 200 to eight.

Other moves for which Buxton argued were the suppression of lotteries and abolition of suttee, the practice of burning widows in India.

Thomas and Hannah Buxton had eight children, but four died of whooping cough over a five-week period around April 1820. Another 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.[7]


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 Augustus CoxAbraham BeaumontSamuel Fox, Nottingham grocerLouis Celeste LecesneJonathan BackhouseSamuel BowlyWilliam Dawes - Ohio fund raiserRobert Kaye Greville - BotanistJoseph Pease - reformer in India)W.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 - AmericanJean-Baptiste Symphor Linstant de Pradine 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.[8] Move cursor to identify him or click icon to enlarge

The slave trade had been abolished in 1807, but existing slavery remained and Buxton joined in the campaign to abolish it. In 1823 he helped to found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (later the Anti-Slavery Society). In May 1823, Buxton introduced in the House of Commons 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.[9]

Buxton took over as leader of the abolition movement in the British House of Commons after William Wilberforce retired in 1825. The petition he presented to the House of Commons bore 187,000 signatures. This had been partly organised by Priscilla Buxton in 1833; she and Amelia Opie were the first two signatories.[10] He largely 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 the mission was cut short 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.[11] His health failed gradually – according to some, due to disappointment over the failed mission to Africa. He died five years later at his home, Northrepps Hall, near Aylsham, Norfolk and was buried at Overstrand, Norfolk.

Founding RSPCA chairman[edit]

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.[12] 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.[13]

Legacy and honours[edit]

The memorial on Bincleaves Green:


Buxton had a number of notable descendants through his five sons and six daughters:[17]

Sir Edward North Buxton, 2nd Baronet (1812–1858) married Catherine Gurney (1814–1911). They had seven sons and 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 served as High Sheriff of Norfolk in 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) and had six sons and 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), a 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) and had two sons and 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)[18] and had two sons and four 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)

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Alumni Dublinenses : a register of the students, graduates, professors and provosts of Trinity College in the University of Dublin (1593–1860), George Dames Burtchaell/Thomas Ulick Sadleir p. 124: Dublin, Alex Thom and Co, 1935
  5. ^ The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society (
  6. ^ The Banville Diaries, Journals of a Norfolk Gamekeeper 1822–44, ed. Norma Virgoe and Susan Yaxley, Introduction by Lord Buxton, William Collins and Sons, 1986 (Banville was Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton's gamekeeper). Also A Timeline of Thomas Fowell Buxton's Career, The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society. [1].
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ Sheridan 2002, p. 247.
  10. ^ Genius of Universal Emancipation. B. Lundy. 1833. p. 174.
  11. ^ "No. 19872". The London Gazette. 7 July 1840. p. 1599.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Stanley, A.P., Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey (London; John Murray; 1882), p. 248.
  15. ^ A MONUMENTAL ENDEAVOUR, book to commemorate the design, production, build and dedication of the Buxton Monument at Weymouth, The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society, 2017. Retrieved: 7 September 2021.
  16. ^ Hindley, Meghan, Work is underway for a monument to honour former MP, Thomas Fowell Buxton, Dorset Echo, 20 September 2016. Retrieved: 7 September 2021.
  17. ^ Foster, J. The royal lineage of our noble and gentle families. p. 138.
  18. ^ Clare Midgley, "Buxton, Priscilla (1808–1852)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online ed., September 2015 accessed 25 June 2017


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by 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, Bt, 1832–1835
William Wharton Burden, from 1835
Succeeded by
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Belfield)
Succeeded by