Biographies of key figures in the history of the transatlantic slave trade

There were many figures in Britain, West Africa and the Caribbean who played a key part in supporting and abolishing the transatlantic slave trade. Each biography is listed below.

Samuel Sharpe (1801 - 1832)
Samuel Sharpe was an educated slave in Jamaica who served as a Baptist deacon and was a mesmerizing speaker. In 1831, at the age of 31, he was temporarily in charge of the Baptist chapel in Montego Bay and was involved in organizing an uprising, which started with rumours that emancipation had been granted from London but was being withheld locally. Christmas Day fell on a Sunday that year and slaves were not even given an extra day


John Tarleton (1719 - 1773)
The Tarletons were an active slaving family in Liverpool over three generations. John Tarleton was the Liverpool Member of Parliament and Lord Mayor of the city. Liverpool delegates were sent to London to represent the case against abolition when it was clear that the Prime Minister, William Pitt, was supporting the end of the slave trade. They presented evidence to the Parliamentary committee set up to investigate


Banastre Tarleton (1754 - 1833)
Three of John Tarleton


Josiah Wedgwood (1730 - 1795)
Josiah Wedgwood was the founder of the prominent Staffordshire pottery family. He had a leg amputated in his youth and was said to keep spare wooden legs always to hand, using them to smash pots that did not meet his exacting standards. He took an early interest in social and political reform and was active with Clarkson and Sharp in forming the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787. Wedgwood had a flair for publicity and marketing. He had a craftsman design a ceramic black-and-white Jasperware medallion with a kneeling chained slave and the words


John Wesley (1703 - 1791)
John Wesley, the celebrated preacher and founder of the Methodist Church, was a life-long opponent of slavery. He observed slavery at first hand during 1736-37 as a missionary in the British Colony of Georgia and his opposition began long before the issue received widespread attention. In 1774 he published a pamphlet,