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The Birmingham Ladies Negro's Friend Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves

This showcase features anti slavery propoganda illustrations take from MS 3173/4/2, an album entitled the 'Female Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves Album circa 1828. The album includes the Third Report of the Female Society for Birmingham, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Walsall, and the respective neighbourhood for the Relief of Negro Slaves, anti slavery poems, lists of life members, benefactors, secretaries, committee members and district treasurers, subscription and donation lists for 1828, extracts from West Indian newspapers, essays on such topics as flogging and the demand for slave labour products, a case study example of the treatment of slaves on the Dromily Estate in Jamaica October 1824 and pamphlets such as the 1827 pamphlet criticising the protection given to slave produced sugar.

The Birmingham Ladies Negro's Friend Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves or 'The Female Society for Birmingham, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Walsall, and their Respective Neighbourhoods, for the Relief of British Negro Slaves' was founded in 1825 by Lucy Townsend, Mary Lloyd and others. The first meeting of the society took place at Mary Townsend's home and she became an active secretary of the society from 1825 - 1836 as well as writing an anti-slavery pamphlet in the form of Scriptural quotations. Lucy Townsend was an evangelical Anglican as were her husband and father, both of whom were clergymen. Charles Townsend was a vicar in West Bromwich at the time the society was formed. The busy Lucy Townsend not only performed her duties as a vicar's wife but also became involved in many philanthropic organisations such as the Ladies' Bible Association, Dorcas meetings, campaigns for the suppression of vice and the abolition of cruel sports such as bull baiting. Mrs Townsend became interested in the anti-slavery movement after listening to the abolitionist Thomas Clarkson's campaign to boycott slave produced sugar during the battle against the slave trade in the late 1790s. Thomas Clarkson believed that as a result of his and others campaigning 300,000 people stopped using sugar. This was a significant victory as the consumption of sugar was seen as a mark of high status in the 18th century. It was Clarkson that Townsend wrote to when formulating the idea of a female society and she received encouragement from the man who had led the sugar boycott campaign and whom had toured England and Wales in 1823 - 1824 to promote the formation of male antislavery societies. According to Clare Midgley Thomas Clarkson made suggestions about the title of the group and obtained pamphlets for Lucy Townsend from the Anti-Slavery Society. Clarkson also suggested that she enlisted the support of Samuel Lloyd, the Quaker antislavery campaigner and husband to her friend Mary Lloyd. In the event Lucy Townsend turned more to Mary than Samuel Lloyd in the foundation of the female society. Lucy Townsend's family members were also involved in the fight against slavery, and her husband had published a sermon on the theme while her daughter Charlotte wrote a pamphlet on the subject. Another married daughter Mrs Moillet became an officer of the society like her mother. Lucy Townsend died in 1847 after seeing many of the laws she had campaigned so hard for become reality. Her passing was mourned in the twenty second report of the society mentioning that it was in a large part due to her 'zeal and devotedness' that the society was founded and that she was responsible for a 'great degree' of the energy that 'animated' the society for many years until her death. A special 8 page memorial piece about Lucy Townsend was attached to the report eulogising her life, achievements and the campaigns she worked so hard for including the cause of slavery.

To see the catalogue for this collection, type in MS 3173 under ‘RefNo’ in the advanced search option.

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