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Part 5: Papers of Thomas Clarkson from the British Library, London

Detailed Listing

The following descriptions have been adapted from the British Library catalogues of Additional Manuscripts.


Add Ms 12131 Papers relating to Sierra Leone

Collection of papers relative to Sierra Leone, viz.: Letters from the Reverend Thomas Clarkson, to the Chairman of the Sierra Leone Company, relating to the productions of Africa, and of Sierra Leone. In particular:

  • Journal kept by H. Hermitage during two excursions, to explore the peninsula of Sierra Leone, Apr. 1798;
    James Strand's Journal of occurrences, from 21 April to 10 Sept. 1792;

  • Journals of John Gray, and [James] Watt, to and from the territory of Furry Canaba, in Jan. Feb. 1795, with a plan;

  • Mr. E. L. Parfitt's information respecting the trade between Sierra Leone and Cape Lomaz;
    Extract of a Diary kept by E. L. Parfitt, on board the Calypso, from the river Sierra Leone to the River Gaboon, 17 June- 29 Dec. 1796;

  • Letters and Reports from Adam Afzelius, (the Company's botanist,) addressed to the Governor and Council of Sierra Leone, T. F. Forster, Jun., and the Directors of the Sierra Leone Company, relating to the climate and natural productions of Sierra Leone, 1792-1798.

Add Ms 12432 Report of the Committee of the Assembly of Jamaica on the Slave Trade, 1792

Report of the Committee of the Assembly of Jamaica on the Slave Trade (printed), 1792, with letters to Mr Long on the subject: The New Act of Assembly, called the New Consolidated Code Noir, Dec 1788 (printed), with Ms. notes, by Mr Long, and papers on the subject. Quarto.

Add Mss 21254-256

Fair Minute Books of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 22 May 1787 - 9 July 1819. Presented by H. C. Robinson, Esq.


Add Ms 36997 Clarkson/Wordsworth correspondence

Letters from Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of William Wordsworth, to Catherine Clarkson, wife of Thomas Clarkson, the anti-slavery philanthropist; 15 July 1803 - 6 Nov 1830. Included also are letters from:

(a) Sara Hutchinson, sister of Mrs Wordsworth; 9 Apr. 1804. f. 14b;

(b) William Wordsworth; [Apr. 1806], 31 Dec. 1814. ff. 42 b, 132.

The second letter is a comment on the reception of the Excursion and the attack in the Edinburgh Review;

(c) Mrs. Wordsworth; [20 Jan. 1807]. f. 53b;

(d) Dorothy Wordsworth to Mrs. Luff; 4 Mar. [1824]. f. 196.

There are references throughout to the affairs of Coleridge, and occasional notices of Southey and De Quincey. The progress of Wordsworth's poems is noted; and copies of the Solitary Reaper and of Yarrow Visited are at ff. 32 b, 131. Paper; ff 207. Folio.

Add Ms 41186 Clarkson/Wordsworth correspondence

Letters (19) from Dorothy Wordsworth and other members of the Wordsworth family to Catharine Clarkson, wife of Thomas Clarkson, the anti-slavery philanthropist; June (?) [1803] -May 1838. The topics dealt with are the same as those in the series in Add. Ms. 36997, which the present letters supplement. A few extracts from Dorothy's letters are printed by Knight, Letters of the Wordsworth Family, 1907. A postscript by Wordsworth to Dorothy's letter of 22 Apr. [1808] runs (f. 20 b): "Wm Wordsworth in his own handwriting sends his best love to Catharine Clarkson."

One letter (f. 27) from Mrs. Clarkson to Dorothy Wordsworth, dated "Xmas day 1814," is included. At f.35 is a portion of a letter from Mary Wordsworth, wife of the poet, written apparently from Rydal Mount early in May 1838 to Mrs. Clarkson, but addressed (following a direction endorsed upon it) and franked by J[ohn] Rickman, clerk assistant of the House of Commons, from London, 11 May 1838. It contains copies of three sonnets by Wordsworth:

(a) "Hark! tis the Thrush, undaunted, undeprest" (dated "Rydal Mount Easter Monday Evening 1838");
(b) "If with old love of you dear hills I share" (dated "May morning 1838 Rydal Mount"); and
(c) "Life with yon lambs, like day, is just begun" (dated "May-morning 1838").

For these sonnets (first printed in Sonnets of William Wordsworth, 1838) see The Poetical Works of W. Wordsworth, ed. Knight, viii, pp. 93, 95, 97, where variant readings from MS. sources are given. At the end (f. 36) is an undated letter from S[ara] H[utchinson] to Mrs. Clarkson. Paper; ff. 37. Folio. [1803]-1838


Add Ms 41262A Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS. Vol. I. Papers of John Clarkson (1764-1828) relative to the transport of negro settlers from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Sierra Leone in 1791-2, and the founding of the colony, of which Clarkson became first Governor. Included are letters from his brother Thomas, William Wilberforce, Henry Thornton (Chairman of the Sierra Leone Co.) and Granville Sharp.

John Clarkson came home on leave at the end of 1792, and did not return to Sierra Leone (cf. 41263).
Paper; ff. 231. Folio. 17 June 1785-29 Dec. 1792.

Add Ms 41262B Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS. Vol. II. Small note-book of John Clarkson, entitled "Remarks Halifax."
Paper; ff. 24. Duodecimo. 29 Oct.-29 Dec. 1791.

Add Ms 41263 Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS. Vol. III. Papers chiefly relating to John Clarkson's dispute with the Sierra Leone Company, ending in his supersession as Governor, and correspondence with various members of the colony (to 1798). Included is a memorandum by him (ff. 155-182), in the form of a letter to [William Wilberforce] on the foundation of the colony, written in reply to Robert Thorpe's attack, in 1815, on the past conduct of the company. A number of the periodical, The Herald of Peace, vol. vi, New Series, no. 7, July-Sept. 1828, containing an obituary of Clarkson, is bound in at the end of the volume. Paper; ff. 251. Folio. 31 Dec. 1792-Sept. 1828.

Add Ms 41264 Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS. Vol. IV. Register of medical cases among negro colonists of Sierra Leone, 26 Nov. 1791-5 Jan. [1792], ff.1-5, followed (ff.6-35) by a private journal, 7 Mar.- [25 Apr. 1792]. At the end, reversing the volume (ff. 34 b- 39 b; a leaf is missing after this), are further notes of cases, ending
23 [Dec. 1791]. The owner of the volume was no doubt the "Mr. Taylor" mentioned in 41263, f. 170, and described in 41264, f. 21, as Surgeon to the Colony. Some of the earlier entries in the journal would appear to have been copied by John Clarkson, since they appear almost verbatim in his diary as published by F G Ingham, Sierra Leone after a hundred years, pp. 16-167. Paper; ff. 39. Small quarto. 26 Nov. 1791-25 Apr. 1792.


Add Ms 41265 Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS Vol. V. Official correspondence of Sir Robert Farquhar, Bart. (1821), Governor of Mauritius, relating to the suppression of the slave trade. Copies. The chief contents are despatches from Farquhar to [Francis, 1st] Marquess of Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal, and correspondence (often in the form of copies transmitted with the despatches) with Capt. Fairfax Moresby, CB [GCB 1865; Admiral 1870], Senior Naval Officer at Mauritius, [Pierre Bernard, Baron] Milius al. Mylius, Governor of Bourbon, the Imam of Muscat, the Governor of Zanzibar, the King of Johanna (Comorols) and Radama, King of Madagascar. There are also two letters from Farquhar to Thomas Clarkson. Paper; ff. 74. Folio. 31 Mar. 1819-18 Feb. 1822.

Add Ms 41266 Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS Vol. VI. Haiti and Jamaica Papers of Thomas Clarkson, including:-

  • Letters from Henry [Christophe, King of Haiti], to his son [Jacques Victor Henry], the Prince Royal; 19 Aug. 1813-15 June 1816. Fr. Signed. f. 1 ;
  • Letters from the same to Thomas Clarkson (French, Signed; occasionally with English translations), with holograph copies (English) of Clarkson's replies, mainly on the subject of public education in Haiti and on foreign policy; 5 Feb. 1816-10 July 1820.
  • Clarkson's appeal on behalf of Haiti to Alexander I at the Aix-la-Chapelle conference of 1818 is described (f. 43) in terms resembling those of a MS. published as Thomas Clarkson's Interview with the Emperor of Russia (Wisbech, 1930).
  • Other letters and papers relating to Haiti, some of them printed, are included in this section. f. 12;
  • Later Haitian papers, including several accounts of the revolution of 1820, and letters from Jean Pierre Boyer, President of Haiti, and the widow and daughters of Henry Christophe during their residence in England; 6 Sept. 1820- 24 Nov. 1840. Fr. and Engl. Interspersed and following are papers relating to negro labour in Jamaica; these include letters from W[illiam] Wilberforce, S[tephen] Lushington, MP, and
    W[illiam] S[mith], MP, concerning Matthew Gregory Lewis, author of The Monk (d. 1818), and his Jamaican estates (cf. 41267A, f. 79). f. 180.
    Paper; ff. 389. Folio. 19 Aug. 1813-23 July 1846.


Add Ms41267A Papers of Thomas Clarkson

CLARKSON PAPERS. Vol. VII. Papers of Thomas Clarkson and his family, chiefly relating to the movement for the abolition of the slave trade. Including:

(1) "A Narrative concerning George and Sarah Green Of the Parish of Grasmere Addressed to a Friend" [probably Mrs. Clarkson], signed Dorothy Wordsworth Grasmere May 4th 1808." (f28 b). Possibly this is the "copy of your Narrative in your own hand-writing" referred to by Mrs Clarkson in a letter to Dorothy (f. 36) ; but, if so, it was not sent to Mrs Clarkson until 1812. The story is printed (from another copy) by E. de Selincourt, The Tragedy of George and. Sarah Green, Oxford, 1936. Autogr. f. 10;

(2) "Sonnet to Mr Clarkson on his History of the Abolition of the African Slave Trade," signed,"W[illiam] H[ayley], May 23. 1808." Autogr. f. 32;

(3) Four letters from Mrs. Clarkson to Sara Hutchinson, sister of Mrs. Wordsworth, with one (imperfect) to Dorothy Wordsworth; 13 May 1809-[4 Dec. 1817]. ff. 34, 36, 70, 74, 91. For Mrs. Clarkson's correspondence with Dorothy and other members of the Wordsworth household see Add. Mss. 36997, 41186;

(4) Letters of condolence from William and Mary Wordsworth to Mrs. Clarkson on the death of her only son; 1837. ff. 146, 148;

(5) Correspondence and papers relating to the Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840, including drafts of Thomas Clarkson's addresses as Chairman, and letters concerning the picture of the scene by B. R. Haydon (now in the National Portrait Gallery; pen-and-ink sketch, f. 216 ; printed description, f. 240), many of whose letters are included. ff. 176-253. Paper; ff. 353. Folio. 13 Nov. 1787-17 May 1853.

Add Ms 41267B Papers of Thomas Clarkson

Letters (27) from Sara Jane Maling to Catherine Buck, from 1796 wife of Thomas Clarkson; 15 Jan. 1793-17 May 1807. One letter has a note from H[enry] C[rabb] Robinson to Mrs Clarkson (f. 18) written on the same sheet. f. 1; Biographical and genealogical collections, including pedigrees, extracts from books, copies of wills, etc., for the descent of the family of Clarkson. Much of the material was collected or compiled by Mary Dickinon, daughter of John Clarkson. The principal families concerned are:-Clarkson, of New York, U.S.A.; Ward, of Brooke Hall, co. Norf.; Alpe, of Framlingham, Suffolk; Banyer, of Royston, co. Hertf.; Gibbs, of Horkesley Park, near Colchester, Essex; Farr, originally of Cove Hall, near Beccles, Norfolk. f. 55. Paper. ff. 147. Folio.



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