Joseph Sturge, the fourth of twelve children of Joseph Sturge (1763–1817) and his wife, Mary Marshall, was born at Elberton, Gloucestershire, on 2nd August 1793. After three years at the Quaker Sidcot School, Sturge at fourteen began farming with his father.
In 1814 he settled at Bewdley but his farm was not a success. In 1822 he moved to Birmingham and went into partnership with his brother Charles Sturge (1801–1888) and eventually it became one of the largest grain-importing businesses in Britain. He also invested in the growing railway industry.
Sturge was a member of the Society of Friends and became involved in the campaign against slavery. In 1823 James Cropper, Sturge's father-in-law, wrote to Zachary Macaulay suggesting the formation of a new abolition society. According to the author of The Great Abolition Sham: The True Story of the End of the British Slave Trade (2005): "Its strategy first and foremost would be to obtain information on the state of slavery in British and foreign colonies in the West Indies and in North and South America, in order to prove the argument that free labour was cheaper than slave labour but that the expense of cultivation would also be lessened by the amelioration of the hard treatment of slaves."
Later that year Sturge, Cropper, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Fowell Buxton, William Allen, and Zachary Macaulay to form the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery. Clarkson agreed to take to the road again to resurrect the old abolition network of some 70 local bodies and to establish new ones. Cropper offered Clarkson £500 to pay for the campaign.
In his book, The Great White Lie (1973), Jack Gratus argues that: "The plan was to divide the country into districts, and to send a lecturer to each, armed with facts and information about slavery and fired by an enthusiasm to convert new audiences around the country to emancipation. The Quakers accepted the idea immediately and Cropper advanced £500 out of his own pocket. The prosperous Birmingham Quaker, Joseph Sturge, who was to play such an important role in the later history of emancipation, advanced £250. Wilberforce gave £20 and James Stephen ten guineas."
Sturge disagreed with Thomas Fowell Buxton and other leaders of the movement, who argued for a policy of gradual emancipation. At the conference in May 1830, the Anti-Slavery Society agreed to drop the words "gradual abolition" from its title. It also agreed to support Sarah Wedgwood's plan for a new campaign to bring about immediate abolition. The following year the Anti-Slavery Society presented a petition to the House of Commons calling for the "immediate freeing of newborn children of slaves".
In 1831 Sturge and his father-in-law, James Cropper, formed the Young England Abolitionists, a pressure group within the Society for the Abolition of Slavery, that campaigned for a new act of Parliament. It was distinguished from other anti-slavery groups by its unconditional arguments and vigorous campaigning tactics. Peter Archer has argued that they directed "their activities much more in the direction of forming mass opinion."
The Abolition of Slavery Act was passed on 28th August 1833. Sturge was disappointed by the measure that granted compensation to slave owners and substituting a temporary system of unpaid apprenticeship for slavery. Sturge visited the West Indies (November 1836 to April 1837) where he collected evidence to demonstrate the flaws in the legislation. On his return he published The West Indies in 1837 and gave evidence for seven days before a committee of the House of Commons. As a result of his campaign in 1838 the apprenticeship system was terminated.
Sturge founded the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1839, and organized an international anti-slavery convention in 1840. In 1841 he travelled through the United States with the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, to observe the condition of the slaves there, and on his return published A Visit to the United States in 1841 (1842).
Sturge was also a supporter of the Anti-Corn Law League and Chartism. In 1842, he launched a campaign for "complete suffrage", hoping to secure the co-operation of the league and the Chartist movement under his leadership. He received some support from some leaders such as Henry Vincent, but the league leaders refused to participate, and the movement faded away after it was opposed by William Lovett and Feargus O'Connor at a conference in Birmingham in December 1842.
His first wife, Eliza Cropper, the daughter of James Cropper, died in 1835. He married Hannah Dickinson of Coalbrookdale on 14th October 1846, with whom he had a son and four daughters. Two of his children, Joseph and Sophia also became involved in his campaign for social reform.
His sister, Sophia Sturge, joined forces with Lucy Townsend, Elizabeth Heyrick, Mary Lloyd, and Sarah Wedgwood, to form the Birmingham Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves (later the group changed its name to the Female Society for Birmingham). The group "promoted the sugar boycott, targeting shops as well as shoppers, visiting thousands of homes and distributing pamphlets, calling meetings and drawing petitions."
Surge was a pacifist and an active member of the Peace Society. According to his biographer, Alex Tyrrell: "For several years after the mid-1840s Sturge was one of the leaders of a movement for people diplomacy, which attempted to create an international public opinion in favour of arbitration as a means of avoiding war. Together with Richard Cobden, Henry Richard, Elihu Burritt, and others, he organized peace congresses at Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. In 1850 he visited Schleswig-Holstein and Copenhagen with the object of inducing the governments of Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark to submit their dispute to arbitration. In January 1854 he was appointed one of the deputation from the Society of Friends to visit the tsar of Russia in an attempt to avert the Crimean War."
Joseph Sturge died of a heart-attack at Edgbaston on 14th May 1859.
Quakers in the World
Son of Quaker farmer Joseph Sturge and his wife Mary, he was born at Elberton, Gloucestershire, the fourth of twelve children. He attended Sidcot School until he was fourteen, when he joined his father on the land. When he refused to serve in the militia, his sheep were confiscated to pay the fine. In 1818 he moved to Bewdley, Worcestershire and began trading in corn.
In 1822 Joseph moved to Birmingham to join his brother Charles in a grain importing business. The firm became one of the largest in Britain, and the brothers became wealthy. They invested in the developing railway network and Joseph joined the board of the London and Birmingham Railway.
In 1834 he married Eliza the only daughter of James Cropper the railway investor and philanthropist. They had two children, Joseph and Sophia.
Joseph devoted much of his time and wealth to philanthropy and social concerns. Slave ownership was due to be outlawed in 1833, and he and his sister Sophia were strongly against the policy of gradual emancipation of former slaves, rather than freeing them immediately and completely. Joseph helped set up a committee of the Anti-Slavery Society to campaign for this. The government then decided to compensate the slave owners, while doing nothing for former slaves apart from setting up a temporary system of unpaid apprenticeship. This seemed deeply unfair, and Sturge visited the West Indies during 1836 and 1837 to see the apprenticeship scheme in action for himself. He published his highly critical findings in &lsquoThe West Indies in 1837&rsquo. He then gave evidence to a committee of the House of Commons and travelled around Britain gathering support. Due to his efforts the scheme was terminated in 1838.
Sturge and his friends sent large sums of money to Jamaica for schools and a scheme for settling former slaves in free townships. He and his friend William Allen helped found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 and organised anti-slavery conventions in 1840 and 1843. With John Greenleaf Whittier he travelled through the United States observing the dreadful conditions of the slaves there. On his return he published &lsquoA Visit to the United States in 1841&rsquo He also bought an estate on the island of Montserrat to prove the economic viability of free labour.
Both Charles and Joseph held themselves responsible for the way in which their wealth was created. This led them to give up, with considerable adverse financial implications, the malt and barley part of their business, as these items were used in the production of alcohol. Joseph was one of the first English Friends to join the total-abstinence temperance movement of the 1830&rsquos. Joseph was also a leader in the agitation against the opium trade in the 1850s.
In the later part of the 1840s Sturge was one of the leaders of a movement for &lsquopeople diplomacy&rsquo. The aim was to influence public opinion in favour of arbitration as a means of avoiding war. Peace conferences were organized with his assistance in Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
He was also involved in two abortive attempts to avert international conflict. He visited Schleswig-Holstein and Copenhagen in 1850 trying to get their governments to submit their dispute to arbitration. He also led of the Quaker delegation that visited the Russian Tsar Nicholas I in St Petersburg in 1854, trying to avert the Crimean War. He helped alleviate its consequences however, by arranging relief for famine-stricken Finland after the destruction caused by the British fleet.
Sturge always did what he thought was right and ought to be done. This made him respected but he was not popular. He unsuccessfully contested parliamentary elections at Nottingham in 1842, Birmingham in 1844 and Leeds in 1847 on platforms such as &lsquocomplete suffrage&rsquo, meaning votes for every adult man.
Joseph was instrumental in the foundation of an adult school in Severn Street Birmingham. Evening classes were offered in arithmetic, geography and grammar. He worked with a fellow Quaker William White to revive the adult school movement. They made a conscious effort to retain the participants by including libraries, sick funds and saving schemes.
He died in 1859 and is buried at Bull Street Meeting House, Birmingham. His children continued his philanthropic work.
Looking at History
Joseph Sturge, philanthropist, was the son of Joseph Sturge (1763), a farmer and grazier, and his wife, Mary Marshall (d. 1819) of Alcester, Warwickshire, was born at Elberton, Gloucestershire, on 2nd August 1793. He was the fourth of twelve children: six boys and six girls. He spent a year at Thornbury day school and three years at the Quaker boarding-school at Sidcot and at fourteen commenced farming with his father. Afterwards he farmed on his own account. The Sturges were members of the Society of Friends, and at the age of nineteen, when Joseph followed the family’s pacifist beliefs and refused to find a proxy or to serve in the militia, he watched his flock of sheep driven off to be sold to cover the delinquency. In 1814, he settled at Bewdley as a corn factor, but did not make money. In 1822, he moved to Birmingham, where he lived for the rest of his life. There, in partnership with his brother Charles Sturge (1801), who was associated with him in many of his later philanthropic acts, he created one of the largest grain-importing businesses in Britain. With other family members he invested in railways and in the new docks at Gloucester. Leaving the conduct of the business to Charles, he devoted himself after 1831 to philanthropy and public life. On 29th April 1834, he married Eliza, only daughter of James Cropper, the philanthropist. She died in 1835. He married again on 14th October 1846 his second wife was Hannah, daughter of Barnard Dickinson of Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, with whom he had a son and four daughters.
From the 1820s, Sturge warmly espoused the anti-slavery cause in collaboration with his younger sister Sophia Sturge (1795-1845). He soon became dissatisfied with T. F. Buxton and the leaders of the movement, who favoured a policy of gradual emancipation. In 1831, he was one of the founders of the agency committee of the Anti-Slavery Society, whose programme was entire and immediate emancipation. Sturge and his friends engaged lecturers, who travelled through Britain and Ireland arousing popular interest. They were disappointed by the measure of emancipation passed by the government on 28th August 1833, granting compensation to slave owners and substituting a temporary system of unpaid apprenticeship for slavery. Between November 1836 and April 1837, Sturge visited the West Indies gathering evidence to demonstrate the flaws of the apprenticeship system. On his return he published The West Indies in 1837 (1838), the first edition of which rapidly sold, and gave evidence for seven days before a committee of the House of Commons. He travelled round Britain, hoping, as one of his friends explained, to bring ‘the battering ram of public opinion’ to bear on parliament and the West Indian planter interest. He was successful, and in 1838 the apprenticeship system was terminated.
Sturge and his friends subsequently sent large sums of money to Jamaica in support of schools, missionaries, and a scheme for settling former slaves in ‘free townships’. He founded the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1839, and organised international anti-slavery conventions in 1840 and 1843. In 1841, he travelled through the United States with the poet J. G. Whittier, to observe the condition of the slaves there, and on his return published A Visit to the United States in 1841 (1842). Towards the end of his life, he bought an estate on the island of Montserrat to prove the economic viability of free labour if efficiently and humanely managed.
Meanwhile political agitation in England was rising. One of the first members of the Anti-Corn Law League, Sturge was reproached by the Free Trader for deserting repeal when, in 1842, he launched a campaign for ‘complete suffrage’, hoping to secure the co-operation of the league and the Chartist movement under his leadership. He was encouraged by the support he received from Edward Miall and middle-class nonconformists as well as from some of the Chartists, including A. G. O’Neill and Henry Vincent, but the league leaders refused to participate, and the movement faded away after it was opposed by William Lovett and Feargus O’Connor at a conference in Birmingham in December 1842. Sturge unsuccessfully contested parliamentary elections at Nottingham in 1842, Birmingham in 1844 and Leeds in 1847 on platforms that included ‘complete suffrage’.
For several years after the mid-1840s, Sturge was one of the leaders of a movement for ‘people diplomacy’, which attempted to create an international public opinion in favour of arbitration as a means of avoiding war. Together with Richard Cobden, Henry Richard, Elihu Burritt, and others, he organized peace congresses at Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. In 1850, he visited Schleswig-Holstein and Copenhagen with the object of inducing the governments of Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark to submit their dispute to arbitration. In January 1854, he was appointed one of the deputation from the Society of Friends to visit the tsar of Russia in an attempt to avert the Crimean War. Largely through Sturge’s support, the Morning Star was launched in 1856 as an organ for the advocacy of non-intervention and arbitration. In 1856, he visited Finland to arrange for distribution of funds from the Friends towards relieving the famine caused by the British fleet’s destruction of private property during the war. Sturge died suddenly after a heart attack at Edgbaston, near Birmingham, on 14th May 1859, as he was preparing to attend the annual meeting of the Peace Society, of which he was president. He was buried in the graveyard of the Bull Street meeting-house, Birmingham.
Sturge’s range of interests as a philanthropist and reformer was very wide: anti-slavery, peace, free trade, suffrage extension, infant schools and Sunday schools, reformatories, spelling reform, teetotalism, hydropathy, and public parks. He was one of the street commissioners of Birmingham during the 1820s, and from 1838 to 1840, he was an alderman of the newly created Birmingham town council. The mainspring of his actions was a sense of Christian duty derived from his Quakerism. He was also influenced by his association with radical nonconformists who shared his antipathy for the aristocratic Anglican elite that dominated British political life. He has been seen as one of the many wealthy Quakers who attempted to alleviate the problems of the age by their philanthropy. He has also been described as one of the best examples of a group of reformers who called themselves ‘moral radicals’ and strove to impart a religiously based idealism to the emergent Liberal Party of the mid-nineteenth century.
 Sources: A. Tyrrell Joseph Sturge and the ‘moral radical party’ in early Victorian Britain, 1987, H. Richard Memoirs of Joseph Sturge, 1864, Birmingham Journal (1830), The Friend, volumes 1 (1843), British Emancipator (1838), British and Foreign Anti-Slavery reporter (1840), Herald of Peace (1819), Nonconformist (1841), J. Sturge and T. Harvey The West Indies in 1837, 1838, J. Sturge A visit to the United States in 1841, 1842, and J. Sturge and T. Harvey Report of a visit to Finland, in the autumn of 1856, 1856. Archives: British Library: correspondence, Add. MSS 43722, 43845, 50131 Bodleian Library: correspondence, journal relating to involvement with the Anti-Slavery Society, British Library: correspondence with Richard Cobden, Add. MS 43656 Sturge MSS Huntingdon Library: letters to Thomas Clarkson, University of London: Brougham correspondence and, West Sussex Record Office: correspondence with Richard Cobden.
The Joseph Sturge Era: Pacifist Pressure, 1832–1845
From 1832 the pilot light burned more fiercely as the Peace Society turned itself into a pressure group. This overtly political role was made possible by a new domestic environment in which governments made concessions and reform campaigns burgeoned. Joseph Sturge became the peace movement’s most representative figure in this period. He optimized pacifism’s declining fear in politics. Until the 1850s, Sturge also kept a certain distance from the Peace Society and encouraged independent activism, thereby symbolizing the fact that in this period a broader peace movement was coming into existence.
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Champions of Emancipation
“I rejoice I am a slave no more, and you are slave no more, Jamaica is slave no more. Amen!” Ex-slave, Thomas Gardner, shouted these words in Jamaica on August 1, 1838, as he celebrated the abolition of the system which had dehumanised his fellow Negroes in the British Caribbean and England for more than 150 years.
With similar jubilation, thousands of ex-slaves, who gathered at town centres and churches in every British Caribbean colony, broke into joyous celebrations after hearing the final words of the Emancipation Declaration, affirming their full freedom from slavery.
The Emancipation Act 1838 was passed by the British Government following a sustained abolition campaign, underscored by bloody slave uprisings in the colonies and widespread public outcry against slavery.
In the midst of the campaign, which lasted from 1780 until 1838, several individuals distinguished themselves as true anti-slavery champions. Among these include:
- Thomas Clarkson
- William Wilberforce
- Joseph Sturge
- William Knibb
- Thomas Burchell, and
- Samuel Sharpe
Thomas Clarkson (1760 – 1846)
Thomas Clarkson was a tireless anti-slavery lobbyist whose efforts led to the abolition of the slave trade in Britain in 1807.
Born in Cambridgeshire, England in 1760, Clarkson began lobbying against slavery in his early twenties and in 1787 he became a founding member of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
Clarkson took responsibility for collecting evidence to support the abolition of the slave trade, travelling throughout Britain gathering first hand accounts of slave abuses from sailors and surgeons who travelled on slave ships. These featured prominently in his anti-slavery publications, and included vivid descriptions of the Middle Passage and the techniques used to restrain the slaves. He also obtained some of the devices used to inflict abuse upon slaves, including leg-shackles, branding irons and instruments for forcing open slave’s jaws. Demonstrations of their uses were given during public lectures.
These works provided a firm basis for the first abolitionist speech in the British House of Commons on May 12, 1789, delivered by William Wilberforce. The speech was the beginning of the protracted parliamentary campaign, during which a motion in favour of abolition was moved in the British Parliament almost every year until 1806.
The act abolishing the Slave Trade in British colonies was passed on March 25, 1807 making the trade in slaves illegal in Britain and her colonies.
Clarkson afterwards shifted his focus towards the complete abolition of slavery, becoming a founding member of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery. Clarkson continued providing evidence against slavery, and spearheaded numerous petitions demanding an end to slavery.
With the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 Clarkson cemented his place as a stalwart of the Emancipation movement and earned the gratitude of all individuals freed by his actions.
William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833)
Co-founder and leader of the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, William Wilberforce spent over 20 years lobbying for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Parliament. His keen debating skills helped maintain Parliamentary focus on the subject until the passage of the Slave Trade Abolition Act in 1807.
After being voted into the British House of Commons in 1784, Wilberforce, a devout Christian, resolved within himself to lobbying against the “depraved and unchristian” trade in Parliament. His first speech to Parliament on the subject on May 12, 1789, gave vivid accounts of the atrocities perpetrated against slaves, and won several new supporters for the cause.
Wilberforce went on to move bills for the abolition of the slave trade almost every year between 1790 and 1805, but they were all defeated despite efforts by the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade to win public support.
In 1806, Wilberforce published an influential tract advocating abolition, which resulted in several resolutions supporting abolition being passed by Parliament. On the back of a widespread public campaign, the Abolition Bill was tabled in January 1807, and was subsequently accepted by Parliament with an overwhelming majority.
Following this success Wilberforce turned his attention to lobbying for the abolition of slavery itself.
To this day Wilberforce is regarded as a seminal figure in the anti-slavery cause, whose contributions were truly instrumental in the victories the movement achieved.
Joseph Sturge (1793 – 1859)
Outspoken career activist, Joseph Sturge, dedicated most of his life to the emancipation of slaves in all British territories. Sturge was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1793, and joined the abolition movement in 1823.
When the Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1827, chose to pursue slavery reforms instead of immediate abolition, Sturge left and formed his own organisation, the Agency Committee, which used among other things, mass leafleting and neighbourhood lectures to agitate for slavery’s immediate end.
After the passage of the Emancipation Act in 1834 freeing all slaves in British colonies, Sturge became an outspoken critic of the six-year apprenticeship period which was to precede full freedom in 1840.
Between 1834 and 1837 he travelled to several British Caribbean colonies gathering information proving that the abuses of slavery were continued during Apprenticeship. He published his findings in two books, which drew widespread criticism of the apprenticeship system, forcing the British Government to implement full emancipation in 1838 – two years earlier than planned.
While in Jamaica, Sturge helped found the Sturge Town free village in St. Ann, providing land and homes for newly freed slaves.
In 1838 Sturge shifted his focus towards ending slavery worldwide, and founded the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, to achieve this end. This Society reaped several successes during Sturge’s lifetime and continued to function even after his death in 1859. The Society is still in operation today under the name Anti-Slavery International, a testament to the tireless effort Sturge displayed during his lifetime towards ending slavery.
William Knibb (1803 – 1845)
Baptist missionary, William Knibb, emerged as the champion of the Negroes during the early 17th century for his tireless efforts to have slavery abolished.
Knibb arrived in the island in 1824, and like his counterpart, Thomas Burchell, he quickly became an outspoken critic of slavery, deeming it “glutted with crimes against God and man”. Knibb gained the respect of the slaves after publicising the unfair arrest of a slave Sam Swiney.
Swiney was convicted and flogged for preaching without a licence, when in fact he was only praying. Knibb published full details of the case in an island newspaper, which led to the dismissal of the magistrates involved.
After the Great Jamaican Slave Rebellion of 1832 Knibb was arrested on suspicion that he helped instigate the rebellion. After his eventual release, Knibb continued his outspoken criticism of slavery, even in the face of death threats and the destruction of his church at Falmouth, Trelawny.
In 1832 Knibb travelled to England where he appeared before committees of both Houses of Parliament, outlining the atrocities of slavery and the difficulties facing missionary groups. He also toured England and Scotland, preaching about the oppression of the slaves.
Knibb spoke with such fervency that he won numerous supporters for the anti-slavery cause, leading to the passage of the Emancipation Act of 1832, which granted freedom to all slaves in British colonies.
After returning to Jamaica Knibb continued working to improve the social conditions facing Negroes. He founded the free villages, Wilberforce (now Refuge), Kettering and Granville, all in Trelawny, and also established several chapels and schools all over the island.
After his death in 1845, Knibb remained the unmatched champion of the slaves. For his efforts he was awarded oneof Jamaica’s highest civil honours, the Order of Merit, at the 150th anniversary of slavery in the British colonies.
Thomas Burchell (1799 – 1846)
Baptist Missionary Thomas Burchell was instrumental in convincing the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) and other social organisations to lobby the British Parliament to end slavery in its Caribbean colonies.
Burchell arrived in Jamaica from England in 1822 and quickly developed a deep hatred for slavery because of the abuses slaves endured. He wrote several letters to the BMS criticising slavery, helping to spur the organisation to join with the Society for the Abolition of Slavery in lobbying the British Government to end slavery.
In 1827 one of Burchell’s letters was published in a popular British magazine and when news of the letter reached Jamaica, the local planters had Burchell arrested for sedition. The planters offered to drop the charge if Burchell would make a public apology for his statements, but Burchell refused. The case was eventually discontinued, but Burchell earned folk hero status among the slaves for his firm anti-slavery stance.
Burchell’s reputation caused him to be arrested as an instigator, after the Great Slave Rebellion of 1832. He was released later that year, and afterwards travelled to Britain where he began working with the Anti-Slavery movement, providing firsthand details of the atrocities of slavery. This information was heavily relied upon by members of the Anti-Slavery movement to gain the passage of the Emancipation Act of 1832.
Returning to Jamaica in 1833, Burchell, like other Baptist missionaries, purchased large tracts of land and divided them into smaller lots, which he sold to the ex-slaves, allowing them to form free villages. Burchell himself was the founder of the Bethel Town and Mount Carey free villages in Montego Bay, St. James. Before his death he founded several churches, schools, and health centers all over the island catering to the ex-slaves.
Edward Jordon (1800 – 1869)
Newspaper editor, statesman, and political activist, Edward Jordon helped galvanize public opinion against slavery in Jamaica among the free mulatto class using his newspaper The Watchman.
Jordon, a Jamaican mulatto, enjoyed more privileges and a higher social status than the slaves, but was barred from enjoying basic civil rights, such as voting or giving evidence in court, because of his non-white status. Jordon emerged as an outspoken member of the mulatto group, actively using his newspaper to lobby for their interests. He surprised many, however, by also being very sympathetic to the slaves, regularly publishing articles criticizing the harsh treatment they experienced.
In 1832 he printed an editorial calling for the planters to “knock off the fetters, and let the oppressed go free”. In response the Jamaican planters had Jordon tried for sedition, which carried the death penalty. Though the charge was eventually dropped, Jordon spent six months in prison before his release.
Jordon continued campaigning against slavery even after his release, and after winning the Kingston seat in the House of Assembly in 1835 he helped implement the articles of the Emancipation Act of 1834.
Jordon went on to have a prolific career in public and private service. He founded another newspaper, The Morning Journal, and became manager of the Kingston Savings Bank, and director of the Planters’ Bank. At various times he held the offices of Mayor and Custos of Kingston Speaker of the House of Assembly and Colonial Secretary. A memorial statue of him was unveiled in Kingston in 1875, and can be seen today in the St. William Grant Park in downtown Kingston.
Sam Sharpe (1801 – 1832)
National hero, Samuel Sharpe, was an outstanding leader whose drive to dismantle the system of slavery helped strengthen the movement towards the abolition of slavery in all British colonies.
Sharpe was born in the early 1800s, at the height of Jamaica’s sugar and slave economy, in which Negroes were regularly brought into the island and sold as slave labourers, mostly to sugar plantations.
Some owners, including Sharpe’s, were sympathetic to the slaves, treating them humanely and allowing them to be educated. As Sharpe grew to adulthood he became a popular Baptist preacher and an outspoken anti-slavery critic.
In 1831 Sharpe conceived a radical plan to end slavery in Jamaica by having the slaves strike on December 28 and refusing to work until wages were negotiated. Sharpe maintained however, that the slaves should avoid violence at all costs. The plan was readily accepted and gained supporters in most of the western parishes.
However, on December 27 some slaves set fire to buildings on the Kensington Estate, sparking outbreaks of violence on other plantations, and foiling Sharpe’s plan for passive resistance. In retaliation the government called out the armed forces, who brutally put down the insurrections on all estates, killing over 500 slaves. Sharpe was later tried and hanged for his role in instigating the revolt.
Despite the number of lives lost, the size of the rebellion forced the British Government to address the widespread anti-slavery sentiment in the island.
In 1833 the British House of Commons formed a committee to pursue the abolition slavery in all British colonies, and the following year the Emancipation Act was passed, stipulating that slavery would end on August 1, 1834.
For his contribution to the anti-slavery movement Sharpe was posthumously conferred with the nation’s highest honour, the Order of National Hero, in 1975.
His face today appears on the Jamaican fifty-dollar bill and a statue of him was constructed at Sam Sharpe Square in St. James.
Joseph Sturge - History
THE MONTSERRAT CONNECTION
The Imperial Abolition Act of 1833 was to have brought about emancipation throughout the British Empire on August 1st, 1834. As one of the prominent figures in the anti-slavery movement, Joseph Sturge VI had worked tirelessly to bring this about.
But the Act fell far short of the campaigners’ intentions. It committed the ‘freed’ slaves to endure seven further years of bondage, tied to their masters as ‘apprentices’. The steam now went out of the British anti-slavery movement, many of its leading lights believing that this Act was the best that could be achieved. But Joseph Sturge carried on the struggle, co-ordinating a high energy campaign against the apprenticeship.
The first Sturge on Montserrat
As a crucial part of the campaign, he and three others – all but one Quakers – travelled to the West Indies in 1836 to see at first hand the condition of the apprentices. They split into two pairs, Joseph Sturge and Thomas Harvey’s perilous travels taking them first to Barbados and then to Antigua. On the 12 December 1836 they arrived on Montserrat, thus beginning the Sturge family link with that lush, mountainous and beautiful Caribbean island.
During six days on Montserrat they met planters, clergy, Legislative Assembly members, the magistrate and the King’s representative. Their contacts included Francis Burke, a planter who they described as “a gentleman of uncommon intelligence and enterprise”.
Their travels also took them to Dominica, St Lucia and Jamaica. The book they published on their return, “The West Indies in 1837”, together with a frenetic round of public speaking, campaigning and Parliamentary lobbying combined with events in the islands to bring about an end to the apprenticeship on the 1st August, 1838. The former slaves thus achieved full freedom three years sooner than would otherwise have been the case.
Elberton moves to Montserrat
Joseph Sturge must have been smitten by Montserrat, as is just about everyone I know who has become acquainted with it. In 1857 he purchased the Montserrat sugar estate of Bransby’s with the intention of demonstrating the viability of sugar production using free, wage-earning labour. He renamed the estate Elberton after his Gloucestershire birthplace. Sadly he died two years later, in 1859, at the age of 66, before being able to put this enterprise to the test. Ownership of Elberton Estate passed to his daughter, Sophia Sturge.
“Pay day at Elberton Estate, 1890s, with St. George’s Hill and Chances Peak in the background.”
Citric acid manufacture
Joseph Sturge VI had four sisters and five brothers. Two of his brothers, John and Edmund, were manufacturing chemists – proprietors of John & E Sturge Ltd of Wheeley’s Road, Birmingham. This firm was engaged in the manufacture of citric acid, in those days made from raw citrus juice. Their main source of juice had been Sicilian lemons but the failure of this crop around this time had lead them to look elsewhere for their raw material. Francis Burke had been experimenting with lime cultivation on his Woodlands Estate in Montserrat. He approached John & E Sturge – it is said through the West Indian firm of P & G Galloway, but no doubt also having been recommended to John and Edmund by their brother, Joseph – with a view to supplying Montserrat juice for the Birmingham works. A contract was entered into with Francis Burke in 1853 and money was advanced to him to finance his lime cultivation, secured by a mortgage on Woodlands.
Two years later Edmund Sturge (Joseph VI’s brother) bought three adjoining estates in order to extend lime cultivation. He named the resulting combined plantation Olveston after the Sturge family home area in Gloucestershire.
“Olveston works, 1890s.” PICTURE THREE: Caption “Agriculture, Olveston Estate, 1890’s.”
In 1860 “Marshall” Sturge (Joseph Marshall, nephew of Joseph VI, son of Charles) visited the island in the company of his cousin John Edmund Sturge (nephew of Joseph VI, son of Edmund) – the former for his health and the latter to accompany him. About six months after their arrival, Charles Sturge purchased the Grove Estate on Montserrat for his son, Marshall. Edmund and Marshall stayed on the island for a year, lodging with Francis Burke at Woodlands and returning to England in May 1861.
At the end of that year Marshall travelled back to Montserrat to take charge of the Grove Estate. Shortly after his return Francis Burke fell ill and died in the following spring.
An inheritance lost, a spouse gained
In 1865 John Edmund was commissioned - presumably by his father, Edmund - to foreclose the mortgage on Woodlands. This was due, I understand, to losses suffered as a result of the under performance of the late Francis Burke’s lime juice business.
The following year, on 3rd April 1866, Marshall married Ann Burke of Woodlands, daughter of Francis Burke, in St Peters Parish Church in Montserrat. So Ann, having lost her Woodlands inheritance to the Sturge family, gained a Sturge spouse! Marshall was 27, she 30. Their son, “Cousin Charles”, may be remembered by older members of our family.
“Joseph Marshall Sturge”
“Mrs J. Marshall Sturge (nee Anne Burke of Monserrat, West Indies) with infant son Charles on his first arrival in Britain in 1869.”
“May, aged 6, Vida 2, Edna 1 August 29th 1877, (daughters of Marshall and Anne Sturge.)”
More Sturge arrivals, more romance
At the end of 1865, “Dickenson” Sturge (Charles Dickenson, nephew of Joseph VI and son of Charles) and his wife Ellen arrived on the island to strengthen the management team. They were accompanied by John Edmund’s sister Edith.
At this time, Marshall resigned his connection with the Grove Estate (no doubt in order to take his Montserrat born wife to England to enjoy the delights of Birmingham), and one James Spencer Hollings from the neighbouring island of St Kitts was engaged to manage it. Hollings was a man of many talents – a surveyor and, it later transpired, a civil engineer of no mean ability. He carried out some outstanding examples of bridge and road building on the island.
In 1868 he and Edith Sturge were married. Their son, James Spencer Hollings, Junior CBE (brought up at Richmond House on Grove Estate) became a leading light in the British iron and steel industry, his obituary in The Times in 1956 describing him as “a recognised expert … in coke oven and blast furnace practice” – all very appropriate as his Sturge/Albright Quaker lineage can be traced back to the Derbys of Coalbrookdale.
Sturge’s Montserrat Company incorporated
In 1869 it was decided to separate the manufacturing business of John & E Sturge in Birmingham from the Montserrat lime juice enterprise. Thus Sturge’s Montserrat Company Ltd was incorporated in that year, registered in Birmingham. The new company acquired title to Olveston, Woodlands and the Grove Estates and to the Store business in the capital, Plymouth. It also leased Elberton Estate from Sophia Sturge. Its shareholders were Arthur Albright, Hannah Albright, John Marshall Albright, James Clark, Thomas Harvey, Edmund Sturge, Joseph Sturge VII (only son of Joseph VI), Charles Dickenson Sturge, Wilson Sturge (my grandfather), Francis Albright Sturge, Sophia Sturge, Priscilla Sturge and Eliza Sturge (the three daughters of Joseph VI), and “Hannah Sturge the younger” – a veritable roll call of Birmingham and Oxfordshire Quakers.
Between 1872 and 1873 a splendidly located house was built for John Edmund and Jane Richardson Sturge, high on the side of Olveston mountain. They named it “The Cot” – in some documents referred to as “New Cot”. I don’t know the derivation of the name but I wonder if the original family home of Gaunts Earthcot had acquired a family nickname of “The Cot”.
“Front of Cot, 1890s, with unidentified family members, probably including John Edmund and Jane Richardson Sturge.”
This fine house only survived for 26 years. It was irreparably damaged in the 1899 hurricane. Of John Edmund and Jane’s three daughters, Hilda, Olga and Elfrida, at least the eldest, Hilda, and I believe also Olga, were born in this house. Senior family members may remember these Sturge sisters who lived in Cambridge.
“No lovelier sight”
By 1878 the company’s lime plantations covered over 600 acres, containing some 120,000 trees. Mrs John Edmund Sturge writes at this time “No lovlier sight could be seen than these orchards when the trees are laden with their bright fruit, the air being pervaded with the fragrance of the blossom.”
“Ecuelling limes – the process of manually extracting essential oil from the rind of the fruit, 1890s.”
“Ecuelling limes at Foxes Bay works, 1890’s.”
But Sturge’s Montserrat Company soon ran into difficulties. Management failures may have been a factor. Possibly drought and blight and depressed markets had compounded the problems. And a costly legal case connected, I believe, with Francis Burke’s failure to fulfil contractual obligations resulting in mortgage foreclosure (a case that I’ve been told ended on appeal in the House of Lords) was apparently the death blow. The family chose to draw a veil over this episode. The result was that Sturge’s Montserrat Company was placed in voluntary liquidation in 1875.
Mindful of the great hardship that would be caused on the island should the business cease to function, Birmingham Quakers, with the Sturge family prominent among them, floated a new Birmingham-based company to take over the Montserrat business as a going concern.
The new company, incorporated in 1875, was called The Montserrat Company Ltd. George Baker, Robert Dudley, Wilson Sturge, Joseph Sturge VII, and Charles Sturge, all of Birmingham, Edmund Sturge of Charlbury and John Skirrow Wright of Handsworth are listed as subscribers in the Articles of Association. Joseph Sturge was appointed Managing Director and served in this capacity until 1922, handing the reins to Thomas Twyman at that time but staying on as Company Secretary until his death in 1934 at the age of 86.
Eleven visits to the island
During his time as Managing Director, Joseph Sturge visited Montserrat on eleven occasions. One of these visits was in 1899, just after the island had been devastated by a powerful hurricane. His handwritten report to the Board tells of destruction of the lime orchards, extensive damage to company buildings and irreparable damage to The Cot. The difficult decision was made to defy the ravages of nature and replant the lime trees and continue trading. The company was mindful of the serious effect on the island’s population of any other course.
Joseph VII was much loved and respected by the island’s people. Many tributes were paid after his death. His obituary in The Times stated “For nearly 50 years Joseph Sturge, as managing director, not only attended to the concerns of the business but carried on his father’s work doing all he could for the freed slaves and their descendants.”
In 1936, 100 years after Joseph VI’s first visit to the island, the company presented to the Montserrat government five acres of land adjacent to Plymouth for use in perpetuity as a public open space. It was to be called Sturge Park in commemoration of the association of Joseph Sturge the elder and Joseph Sturge VII. (Sturge Park now lies buried under volcanic ash in the exclusion zone.)
Sea Island Cotton
Following a visit by Joseph Sturge in 1903 an experimental 25 acres of long staple super-fine Sea Island Cotton was planted. This crop expanded in following years to become the company’s and the island’s largest source of revenue. The company’s annual report in 1917 speaks of the production of 17,844 barrels of lime juice – “still very far short of former crops” – and of an “excellent profit” on cotton.
“Loading a lime cask onto a lighter at Plymouth jetty, Montserrat, 1914.”
Montserrat’s largest landowner
At its peak the company owned a dozen estates on the island, an area in excess of 4,000 acres. It was by far Montserrat’s largest landowner and enterprise.
Severe hurricanes in 1924 and 1928, and a series of earth tremors in the 1930s, caused extensive damage but the company soldiered on. In the 1950s mass emigration resulted in a quarter of the population leaving for the UK and Canada. The labour shortages this caused led to militant trade union activity, adding to problems caused by drought and agricultural pests.
I joined the Board in 1954, having been given shares by my Aunt Evelyn Sturge. I paid by first visit to the island in 1956. At that time the island’s plantation society and economy were much as they must have been at the turn of the century, apart from the advent of the motor car and the arrival of an air strip and a regular air service to Antigua.
Continuing financial losses during the 1950s forced the hand of the Board into recommending acceptance of a takeover offer from a Canadian group in 1961. Acceptance that year resulted in the closure of the Birmingham office and the winding up of the UK company. But the Sturge connection was not yet at an end! I was offered a position by the new Canadian management and spent the next thirteen years on the island. Since returning to England in 1974 I have visited the island a number of times, most recently in October 2003.
In 1989 Montserrat was devastated yet again, this time by Hurricane Hugo. Having just recovered from that catastrophe, in 1995 the volcano – dormant throughout Montserrat’s recorded history – began erupting. It is still active nine years later. Nineteen lives were lost, and the town of Plymouth was buried under ash, mud and pyroclastic material. The southern two thirds of the island is now an ash shrouded moonscape – and is a strictly enforced exclusion zone. Our once enchanting and beautiful island is now in a sorry state. I’m afraid its beauty won’t be restored in my lifetime but perhaps some future members of the Sturge family will be caught in its spell.
The amazing, lovely, friendly Montserrat people refuse to be cowed. Their resilience in the face of disaster is legendary. Some 5,000 of them are currently carving out a new life in the “safe” northern third of the island.
The name Sturge still has a resonance on the island. I am in the process of transferring my Montserrat Company archive to the Montserrat National Trust where it will be accessible to historical scholars and others – and also to any future Sturges who venture to the Caribbean. I will continue to visit my beloved island as often as I can afford, and for as long as God gives me the strength.
See TIMELINE for IGI ancestral Records
See MEDIA for information sources
- Joseph Sturge was born 2 Aug 1793 in Old Manor House, Elberton to parents Joseph Sturge V and Mary Marshall
- his father was a farmer of Elberton in Gloucestershire, the family belonged to the Society of Friends - (Quakers)
- Young Joseph first became a farmer but went into business as a corn merchant, settling in Birmingham in 1822.
- Joseph Sturge was married, in 1834 at the age of 41 in to Eliza Cropper (1800-1835),daughter of James Cropper and Mary Brindson, in Apr 1834 but she died the following year.
- 11 years later, on 14 Oct 1846 he married Hannah Dickinson daughter of Barnard Dickinson (an Ironmonger) and Ann Darby of ,Coalbrookdale. - a village in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England, containing a settlement of great significance in the history of iron ore smelting. This is where iron ore was first smelted by Abraham Darby using easily mined "coking coal"
- Hannah was born on 30 Dec 1816 in Coalbrookdale and her family were also Quakers .
- Together, Joseph and Hannah had five children: from (1847-1854 ) one son, & 4 daughters
- ---- Joseph 1847 --- Sophia 1849 --- Priscilla 1850 -- Eliza 1852 --- Hannah.1854
- Joseph worked unremittingly in the cause of peace, temperance, adult education and the abolition of slavery. Through it all he was a busy and hard-pressed corn merchant during particularly difficult times.
- he became a prominent campaigner against slavery in the British West Indies, which he helped to abolish in 1837.
- 1841 he toured the US slave states with John Greenleaf Whittier, and later campaigned for the repeal of the Corn Laws, the extension of adult suffrage, and Chartism
- Hannah was also a philanthropist
- . Joseph died on 14 May 1859 in Edgbaston Birmingham, Warwickshire, England aged 65.
- Their youngest child Hannah was only 5 years old when he died.
- He was buried the Bull Street Meeting House. He now rests at Lodge Hill cemetery, Selly Oak.
- He had been much involved in civic affairs in Birmingham. Three years after his death, a memorial to him was unveiled before a crowd of 12,000 at Five Ways, Birmingham. Sculpted by John Thomas, it shows Sturge with his right hand resting on the Bible
- Hannah died . years later in ..1896 aged..80.
Joseph the Sixth 1793 - 1859
Joseph VI, born at Elberton, was the most eminent of the Sturges and many books have been written about his life of public service. His statue stands at Five Ways in Edgbaston. Strengthened by his religious faith he worked unremittingly in the cause of peace, temperance, adult education and the abolition of slavery. Through it all he was a busy and hard-pressed corn merchant during particularly difficult times.
It seems that he proposed to several young ladies, but the one who claimed the right to accept him was Eliza Cropper, the daughter of an anti-slavery colleague. To his great grief she died in childbirth a year after their marriage. Some eleven years later he married Hannah Dickinson of Coalbrookdale and they had five children (described further on.)
By now Joseph was living and working in Birmingham. The firm which he and his brother ran would have been more profitable had Joseph not declined to sell barley (the 𠇊le corn”) for malting - just as his father at Elberton had refused to grow beans for the Bristol slave traders. He was indeed one of the early teetotallers beer had been served for breakfast in his childhood as a matter of course, but in his work for the poor he saw the evil effects of drink. On the farm which he leased as a young man, he had watched his flock of sheep being driven away when, drawn for the militia, he would neither serve nor pay for a substitute so now in Edgbaston he found his own goods and chattels being distrained more than once when he refused to pay church rates, and he organised other non-conformists to help to end this levy.
We envisage Joseph Sturge as being staid and venerable: a promoter of the London to Birmingham railway who withdrew from the Board because trains ran on Sundays, an objector to the building of the Town Hall as a venue for music festivals. But in his younger days he was anti-establishment, a radical, nicknamed “Quaker Chartist” in the days when Chartism seemed to imply as much as Bolshevism later. However, when public rallies for political reform got out of hand, and there were serious riots as London police, sent into Birmingham, set on the crowds, it was J.S. who restored order. Once he failed in this, and three men and a boy were condemned to death. It was enough for Joseph to speak up for them, for their sentence to be commuted to transportation.
His activities were endless. Through his Sunday Schools he gave the impetus to adult education by donating the first playing field he pointed the way to public parks. He and his fellow abolitionists were the first to organise propaganda and fund-raising campaigns on a large scale. His personal contribution - “off his own bat” according to Lord Brougham - was that he won the freedom of 800,000 negroes, having gone to the West Indies to investigate the apprentice system which followed slavery and found it in many respects just as bad. To prove that slavery was not an economic necessity he set up a plantation in Montserrat and visited it many times. Though the venture failed for various reasons, it laid the foundation of the island’s flourishing lime juice trade.
Joseph worked with Cobden and Bright to secure the repeal of the Corn Laws which kept prices high by taxing imports. He was on good terms with his work-people, often calling on them in their homes. He established a Reformatory for destitute boys and pioneered the probation system. He was among a small deputation of Friends appointed to travel to face the Czar of Russia in an attempt to avert the Crimean War.
Only Joseph Chamberlain held as high a place as Joseph Sturge in the affections of his townspeople during his lifetime. Crowds lined the two-mile route to his funeral, and six thousand youngsters came to a Band of Hope meeting in his memory.
Quaker philanthropist and reformer, born in Elberton, Gloucestershire, SWC England, UK. A prosperous grain merchant in Birmingham, he became a prominent campaigner against slavery in the British West Indies, which he helped to abolish in 1837. In 1841 he toured the US slave states with John Greenleaf Whittier, and later campaigned for the repeal of the Corn Laws, the extension of adult suffrage, and Chartism
There is a book published named. MEMOIRS OF JOSEPH STURGE . available as a free Ebook ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Joseph Sturge (1793-1859): The Radical Businessman
Joseph Sturge was a Quaker and a leading campaigner in the abolition movement. He visited the Caribbean several times and worked for emancipation with African-Caribbean and English Baptists. He was born in Gloucestershire the son of a farmer. After building up a successful business in Birmingham, with his brother Charles, he began to concentrate on the causes in which he believed.
He became secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society in Birmingham in 1826. He thought the London leadership too cautious and argued for greater public agitation. "The people", he said, "must emancipate the slaves for the Government never will." In 1834, following the 1833 British Emancipation Act, Joseph Sturge sailed to the West Indies. His aim was to study the 'apprenticeship' system that replaced slavery.
He travelled extensively, talking directly to apprentices, planters and others involved. Upon his return he published his ‘Narrative of Events Since the first of August 1834' in the name of a African-Caribbean witness, referred to as 'James Williams' to protect his true identity in case of reprisals. It showed that slavery was far from abolished.
Visiting the Caribbean again in 1836, he saw that little progress had been made. Working conditions were as harsh as ever. A letter to him from a group of Jamaican abolitionists described the system as ‘iniquitous and accursed' a system that was becoming increasingly oppressive. Whilst in Jamaica, Sturge worked with the Baptist chapels to help find a way to establish Free Villages that would provide homes beyond the control of plantation owners after full emancipation.
On his return to England, he published 'The West Indies in 1837' which outlined the cruelty and injustice of the system of apprenticeship and continued to campaign for its end. He was supported by Quaker abolitionists such as William Allen as well as Lord Brougham, who spoke favourably of his work in the House of Lords. In 1838, Joseph Sturge founded the 'Central Negro Emancipation Committee' and led a March for Justice in Birmingham. With the support mainly of Nonconformists, he headed the movement for immediate and full emancipation. As a result, emancipation was brought forward by the British Government to 1st August 1838.
Sturge's work did not end there. In 1839, he found the 'British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society' - its objective was world-wide emancipation. The Society organized the World's first International Anti-slavery Conference, in London, in 1840. It attracted delegates from Europe, America and the Caribbean and included African-Caribbeans, women and many nonconformists.
Joseph Sturge also helped found the Peace Society and continued to work on behalf of enslaved people worldwide. In 1857, he purchased the Elberton Sugar Estate on Montserrat to grow limes and show that free labour was productive. Joseph Sturge died in 1859 but the society he founded still survives today as 'Anti-Slavery International'.
A well known Quaker leader in Birmingham who promoted civic and religious liberty, freedom to the slaves, peace, progress, temperance and education. In January and February 1854 with two other Quakers, travelled through deep snow to St Petersburg (Leningrad to Czar Nicholas) as Christian to Christian, in an attempt to avert the Crimean war. His statue stands in Burmingham.[original family tree..FTW]
A well known Quaker leader in Birmingham who promoted civic and relgious liberty, freedom to the slaves, peace, progress, temperance and education. In January and Febuary 1854 with two other Quakers, travelled through deep snow to St Petersberg (Lenningrad to Czar Nicholas) as christian to Christian, in an attempt to avert the Crimean war. His statue stands in Burmingham.
Daughter of Joseph and Hannah. Sophia, a peace campaigner
Sturge, Sophia (1849), peace campaigner, was born in Birmingham, on 5 January 1849, the second of the five children of Joseph Sturge (1793), corn merchant, and his second wife, Hannah Sturge (1816), daughter of Barnard Dickinson, ironmaster of Coalbrookdale, and his wife, Ann. The two families were members of the Society of Friends. Joseph Sturge was a well-known philanthropist, and Sophia was brought up in an atmosphere of strenuous piety and community service.
Executive summary: Anti-slavery activist
English philanthropist and politician, the son of a farmer in Gloucestershire. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and refused, in his business as a corn factor, to deal in grain used in the manufacture of spirits. He went to Birmingham in 1822, where he became an alderman in 1835. He was an active member of the Anti-Slavery Society, and made a tour in the West Indies, publishing on his return an account of slavery as he there saw it in The West Indies in 1837 (London, 1837). After the abolition of slavery, to which, as Lord Brougham acknowledged in the House of Lords, he had largely contributed, Sturge started and generously supported schemes for benefiting the liberated negroes. In 1841 he travelled in the United States with the poet Whittier to examine the slavery question there. On his return to England he gave his support to the Chartist movement, and in 1842 was candidate for Nottingham, but was defeated by John Walter, the proprietor of The Times. He then took up the cause of peace and arbitration, to support which he was influential in the founding of the Morning Star in 1855. The extreme narrowness of Sturge's views was shown in his opposition to the building of the Birmingham town hall on account of his conscientious objection to the performance of sacred oratorio. He died at Birmingham on the 14th of May 1859. He married, first, in 1834, Eliza, daughter of James Cropper and, secondly, in 1846, Hannah, daughter of Barnard Dickinson.
Wife: Eliza Cropper (m. 1834)
Wife: Hannah Dickinson (m. 1846)
Elberton is a village in South Gloucestershire, England, in the civil parish of Aust. It is just beyond Alveston and Olveston and is on a B-road that leads towards the Severn Bridge. It is mostly a farming community, with a small church St John's, and it contains a popular garage.
Elberton was the birthplace of the Quaker anti-slavery campaigner Joseph Sturge.
Joseph the Fifth 1752 - 1817
Joseph V lived in the parish of Olveston, farming at Elberton and at Sheepcombe. His first wife was Sarah Sargent, and he wrote that in the four years before she died they “lived together in much love, never having, I believe, evil thought or word against each other.”
In 1787, six years after her death, he married Mary, the only child of Thomas Marshall of Kingley - which was a substantial farmhouse on the Earl of Hertford’s estate. Mary was short and slender and undoubtedly attractive those of us who have seen her beautiful wedding- dress can picture her as a bride. She had had many admirers, some of whom were mentioned in a long poem written to celebrate - or lament - her marriage. She was 𠇊 bright, capable woman, a devoted wife, fond of all outdoor pursuits - she taught her son Charles to swim - and was the “stay” of the family to her the children looked for guidance and from her they derived their philanthropic qualities and literary taste.” Like other women in the family Mary did much to help poorer Friends.
Joseph in his turn was 𠇊 very kind husband: nothing was too good for his wife. New Leaze was a costly house and nothing was too good for it either.” This was the new home to which he retired with Mary towards the end of his life. They had had twelve children but our only glimpse of him as a father is that “he used to call his sons at four o𠆜lock, and if on returning at six he found them still in bed he would say, “Thomas and Joseph, are you going to lie in bed all day long?””
As a farmer, we know that “he rode each Spring into Merionethshire to buy black cattle and into Dorsetshire to purchase sheep. These were fattened in the rich meadows round Olveston and sold off those being kept through the winter were fed only on hay, roots being then not much grown for cattle. The Merionethshire cattle were very wild, and on their arrival had brass knobs screwed on the tips of their long horns to prevent their goring.”
All but one of the twelve children grew up, their combined lifespans totally 675 years. The eldest, Rebecca, never married Mary married 𠇊 bad man” but had fifteen children. Next came Thomas Marshall, a respected wool-stapler in Olveston who later joined his brothers’ firm of corn merchants, working for them in Gloucester. He was 𠇊 large, powerfully-made man, full of information and generally popular, though having strong prejudices.” He married Hannah Enoch, and it was one of their sons, another Joseph, who emigrated and established the New Zealand Sturges with his own eight children.
Joseph VI and Charles are described later. Sophia kept house for Joseph except during his marriage she was perhaps rather strict, as there is mention of her insisting on Greek lessons for visiting nephews supposed to be on holiday. Priscilla married Sam Southall and Lucretia became Mrs James Cadbury.
John was a chemical manufacturer in Bewdley, after an apprenticeship in London, and moved to Edgbaston to start with Edmund the firm of J. & E. Sturge. His children were Lewis and Lucy who married Colin Scott Moncrieff. John died suddenly whilst away from home and was refused Christian burial as being unbaptised. Henry was in business in Bewdley his brother Charles bought and enlarged the Summer House for him but Henry died when only forty. His daughter married Georges Appia, a well-known French Protestant pastor. Then by his second marriage to his cousin Lydia, Henry became the grandfather of Sturge Moore the poet and George E. Moore O.M., the Cambridge philosopher.
Anna died as a baby, but the youngest, Edmund, who married Lydia Albright and became “Gentleman Sturge” of Charlbury, lived to be nearly eighty-five. His daughter Margaret married her cousin Lewis Sturge, then later the widower of her cousin Lucy, Colin Scott Moncrieff (see above.) Edmund’s son John Edmund married Jane Richardson of Newcastle-on-Tyne their daughters Hilda, Olga (Ball) and Elfrida (Cameron) were all born in Montserrat and later lived and died in Cambridge.
Following his death a group of Birmingham dignitaries met in the Town Hall in the following August under the chairmanship of the Mayor to decide on the form that a public memorial should take. It was resolved that a statue should be erected in Joseph Sturge’s memory and a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Brougham was set up to raise the necessary funds and to carry the project forward.
The London sculptor John Thomas was commissioned and the chosen site was Five Ways, on the boundary between Edgebaston and the town centre, and close to Wheeley’s Road where Joseph Sturge had lived for many years. The unveiling took place on June 4th, 1862 before a large gathering of dignitaries and admirers. A report on the event in ‘The Times’ described the monument as comprising 𠇊 central figure of Mr. Sturge, his right hand resting on a Bible, and the left extended towards a figure symbolical of Peace. A figure on the other side is typical of Charity. At the base of the statue, in front and back, are large basins for ornamental fountains, and at either side are drinking fountains. The principal figure is in Sicilian marble, the secondary groups in fine freestone. The likeness of the man is portrayed with wonderful fidelity.”
Menu. The Joseph Sturge Statue
The Imperial Abolition Act of 1833 was meant to emancipate slaves throughout the British Empire by August 1, 1834. However, the Act required the freed slaves to remain bonded as apprentices to their masters for seven more years.
The anti-slavery movement of which Joseph Sturge VI was a prominent member, fought vigorously against this apprenticeship.
As part of this campaign, Joseph Sturge and three colleagues travelled to the West Indies in 1836 to witness the conditions of the apprentices. It was during his travels that he first visited Montserrat, creating a link between Montserrat and the Sturge family that would survive generations.
Joseph Sturge and his siblings were the proprietors of John & E Sturge Ltd of Wheeley, Birmingham, a firm manufacturing citric acid made from raw citrus juice. Their primary source of citrus was Sicilian lemons. However, the failure of this Sicilian crop led the Sturges back to Montserrat. In 1855, Edmund Sturge, brother of Joseph Sturge VI, purchased three adjoining estates for the cultivation of limes on the island. Montserrat limes provided the necessary Vitamin C to prevent scurvy in British Sailors thus earning them the nickname of Limeys. Edmund Sturge named the resulting plantation Olveston after the area in Gloucestershire, which the Sturges called home.
Olveston House, originally a wooden structure built on the plantations 600 acres, always housed the Montserrat Companys Managing Director
Friends' review: a religious, literary and miscellaneous journal, Volume 18
edited by Samuel Rhoads, Enoch Lewis
Those who have passed over the road leading from Bristol to Gloucester will not readily forget
the scene that breaks on their view as they gain the top of Almondsbury Hill for there, spread
out before the eye, lies one of the finest landscapes in England, embracing an area of upwards
of a hundred square miles, and stretching in an unbroken sweep from the mouth of the Severn
to the Forest of Dean, and almost within sight of the smoke of Gloucester. Immediately below
is a large district of fertile land, locally known as the " Marsh" or " Lower Level," richly wooded,
principally with elm trees, and extending to the banks of the Severn, which appears like a
silver line in the distance. Nearer to you on the right, and lying between Aust Cliff and the
heights of Old Down, is a rich tract of country, where the edge of the mountain limestone
touches the alluvial deposit from the estuary of the Severn. Scattered along this strip of land
you can see. though in the spring almost buried in the bloom of orchards, the beautiful rural
villages of Tockington, Olveston and Elberton, the last of which was the birth-place of Joseph
In this district, or its immediate neighborhood, the family of the Sturges had been settled for
many generations, either as substantial farmers, or as yeomen cultivating their own land. The
first of the name of whom there is any distinct record was Thoma? Sturge, who lived at
Frampton Cotterell in the reign of James I. His son Joseph was the lessee of an estate at Gaunt
Earthcott, still in the same vicinity, under the corporation of Bristol, and died about the year
1669. He seems to have joined the Society of Friends almost from its first appearance. George
Fox himself had evidently labored in that part of Gloucestershire, and in his journal he records
a visit he paid to Olveston (which he writes Oldstone) on a very interesting occasion in his life
namely, immediately after his marriage at Bristol with Margaret Fell, the widow of Judge Fell.
"We stayed," he says, "about a week in Bristol, and then went together to Oldstone, where,
taking leave of each other in the Lord, we parted, betaking ourselves to our several services,
Margaret returning homewards to the North, and I passing on in the work of the
Lord as before." The extraordinary success which attended the ministrations of that
remarkable roan is a very noteworthy fact in the history of those tiroes. Before his death his
disciples might be counted by scores of thousands, scattered over roost parts of the kingdom.
In some instances, nearly whole neighborhoods seem to bave become converts to the new
faith. That such was tbe case in the neighborhood where the Sturges Jived, is rendered very
probable by two facts. First, that at tbe Friends' burial-place, called Hazel, distant about two
miles and a half from Olveston, 1000 burials are recorded to have taken place between 1650
and 1700, which, in such a sparsely populated district, most bave formed a large proportion of
those who died in that interval. This is confirmed by the second fact, that, when William Penn
went out to America to found tbe colony of Pennsylvania, he took with him a considerable
number of families𠅊s mary as forty, if we may trust the local tradition𠅏rom these villages
It is certain, at any rate, that the Sturges can trace their descent through a line of "Friends,"
going back almost, if not quite, to the origin of the Society.
Joseph, the subject of this memoir, was born on August 2, 1798, at an old bouse called the
Manor Bouse, which, both from its name and appearance, we may infer to have been at one
time a place of considerable dignity, though used now only as a farmhouse. He was the fourth
child and second son of Joseph and Mary Sturge, to whom were born twelve children, eleven of
whom lived to attain middle age. He was the sixth of the family who in succession had borne
tbe name of Joseph, the first of whom was the early disciple of George Fox, already
mentioned, who died in 1669. His father was a respectable farmer and grazier " of
intelligence," we are told, " considerably superior to men of the same class at that time." His
mother was Mary Marshall, the daughter of Thomas Marshall of Alcester, in Warwickshire. She
appears to have been a lady of a very gentle, retiring disposition, but probably all the more on
that account, as is frequently the case with women of that quiet character, exercising a strong,
abiding influence over the minds and hearts of her children.
That this descent of Joseph Sturge from a long line of Quaker ancestry was a powerful element
in the formation of his character, we cannot doubt. It is not resemblances of form and feature
merely that arc transmitted from one generation to another. But moral and intellectual
affinities are also, to a large extent, hereditary. The early history of the Friends is the record of
a lengthened martyrdom, and the traditions of the Society no doubt contribute to create and
foster a quiet but indomitable resistance to oppression, while its religious sys
tem inculcates the broadest philanthropy, irrespective of nation, class or color. At the time of
Joseph Sturge's childhood, there appears to bave been a deficiency in Friends' families of
direct religious instruction, but they were, nevertheless, pervaded by an atmosphere of
religious influence. Tenderness of conscience and obedience to the divine will were carefully
cherished. Many opinions and customs of great authority in Society at large were of little or
none within that secluded pale, and the habit of proceeding in the right line of duty, without
regard to consequences, was by precept and example earnestly and habitually enforced upon
the young. There is little, of course, to say of his early childhood, which was, no doubt, much
like that of other children. He is described as having been a "very healthy and lively infant,
whom it was a pleasure to nurse." By the favor of Providence, tbe circumstances in which the
young life began to unfold itself were kindly and propitious. His parents, possessed of modest
but sufficient means, and marked by their moderation and tranquillity of character,
"Along the cool sequestered vale of life,
Kept on tbe noiseless let or of their way."
Their home was the abode of cheerfulness and
contentment. He grew up also as one of a
numerous family of children, among whom
were several sisters, some considerably older,
and some about his own age𠅊n inestimable
blessing to a boy. In such a secluded dis'riet
there was small need to restrain them from
roaming at will through the meadows, and
among the orchards, and over the downs, which
give so much of quiet beauty to that part of
the country. Tbey lived, therefore, we are
told, very much in the open air, and grew
rather wild, though tbe wildness was of a
When he was about seven years old, Joseph went on a long visit to his grandfather Marshall,
who lived at a farm called Kinsley, near Alcester. This gentlemen had lost his wife when he was
comparatively a young man, and as Mrs. Sturge was his only child, he generally had one or
more of his grandchildren to live with him, among whom Joseph seems to have been the
He is described by his eldest brother, Thomas Sturge, who wns sometimes with him at KingIcy,
as being at this time a singularly active, enterprising boy, endowed with exuberant animal
spirits, and a most fearless temper, climbing up trees, and plunging headlong into the hedges
and underwood in pursuit of bis objects, reckless, as he himself says, about his clothing, which
often hung in tatters about him, to the great discomposure of a worthy woman who served in
the capacity of a housekeeper to his grandfather.
Two or three years before his death, he took his own children to Kingley to show them the spot
where their father had spent so much of his childhood. Out of that there grew a little incident
which strikingly illustrates the tenderness of conscience forwhich he was remarkable through
life. As he passed through the familiar scenes of his early days, amid the crowd of pensive and
tender associations that, no doubt, thronged through his mind, there wag one of a painful
nature, because connected with an act of childish wrong-doing. Walking through the village of
Wicksford, already referred to, in company with Joseph Bayzand, the present occupant of
Kingley, they came to a little public-house dignified with the name of the " Fish Inn," at the
sight of which there flashed through his memory the fact that, nearly sixty years before, he
and a 8ervan(>boy of his grandfather's had obtained from the landlady of the house change in
copper for a sixpenny-piece, which they knew to be bad. Trivial as many would be disposed to
regard such au offence, Joseph Sturge could not rest satisfied until be had made.what
atonement he could for this sin of his youth. Accordingly on his return to Birmingham he wrote
the following letter to Mr. Bayzand :—
"ESTEEMED FRIEND :—The kind attention I recfeived from thee when calling at Kingley with some of
my family the summer before last has often inclined me to write to thee a few lines on a
matter which, though it may appear a trifle, has, whenever it has passed across my memory,
caused me uneasiness. It is now, I believe, nearer sixty than fifty years ago (at the age of
about nine years, I think) 1 was guilty in conjunction with one of my grandfather's servant
boys, of defrauding the landlady of the Fish Inn at Wicksford (Mrs. Haynes) of sixpence, by
getting change in copper for a sixpenny piece, which we knew not to be a good one. How far I
was led into it by the servant boy, who was older than I, I cannot tell, but it would be a
satisfaction to me to pay two hundredfold,.say J65, to such relatives of the Mrs. Haynes we
acted so unjustly to, as, were she living, she would moot wish to assist, if thou could'st kindly
put me in the way of doing so. From the inquiry I made when with thee at Wicksford, and
which thou wilt see was not altogether dictated by curiosity, I think I understood there was no
direct descendant of Mrs. Haynes living but if thou think'st the money can be satisfactorily
appropriated, please to let me know. But perhaps there will be no advantage in letting my
motive for giving it be known beyond thyself, though I have no strong objection to it, if it is
thought best. Hoping thou wilt excuse a stranger for giving thee so much trouble,
DEATH OF MR. JOSEPH STURGE. This mournful and unexpected event occurred on Saturday morning, May 7, at Mr. Sturge's residence, at Edgbaston, Birmingham. He had risen at his usual early hour, about half-past 6 o'clock, and his voice was heard cheerfully calling his children to join liim in riding out before breakfast, in accordance with their ordinary practice in fine Weather. On returning to his chamber he complained of sudden severe pain in the region of the heart, wlhich lasted about 20 minutes, when it appeared to abate, but his strength was utterly prostrated, and at about a quarter past 7 o'clock he breathed his last.
Mr. Sturge has been in feeble health for several months, but had not, found it necessary to lay aside his ordinary engagements, and was anticipating a journey to London this day, with his family, for the purpose of taking part in some of the anniversary meetings now being held in the metropolis, and of presiding, as he had consented to do, at the annual meetings of the Anti-Slavery Society and of the Peace Society, announced for this day and to-morrow.
He was born of Quaker parents, at Elberton, Glocestershire, about 10 miles from Bristol, on the 2nd of August, 1793, and was in his 66th year at the time of his death. He was the sixth member of the family bearing in direct succession the name of Joseph Sturge, which he now transmits to his son, a boy of 12 years of age.
He first established himself in business at Bewdley as a corn merchant on arriving at his maturity, and afterwards, in 1822, settled at Birmingham. Here, and at Glocester, in partnership with his brother, Alderman Charles Sturge, he continued to carry on business until his death.
In 1834 he married Eliza, daughter of Mr. James Cropper, of Liverpool, and thus became related to the extensive philanthropic family circle of which that eminent man was the centre. This union, was, how ever, of a very brief duration, and Mr. Sturge after wards, in 1846, married Hannah, daughter of Mr. Barnard Dickenson, of Coalbrooke Dale, who sur vives him, and by whom he leaves one son and four daughters. From early life he actively participated in the various philanthropic movements of the day, but specially devoted himself to the Anti-Slavery cause. The Anti-Corn-Law League in its early days was deeply indebted to Mr. Sturge. Immediately on his return from America, at the request of the Anti-Corn-Law league, he took up the subject of an extension of the suffrage, and the follow ing year contested the borough of Nottingham.
Montserrat — History and Culture
Montserrat, known as the Caribbean’s own Emerald Isle, shares much in common with Ireland. Irish influence is evident in the surnames of many residents, the island’s resemblance to Ireland’s coast and the fervour with which Montserrat celebrates St Patrick’s Day. In fact, Montserrat is the only place outside of Ireland where St Patrick’s Day is an official public holiday.
The Arawak and Carib were Montserrat’s first residents before Christopher Columbus discovered the island and named it after Catalonia’s Monastery of Montserrat in 1493. Many of the first European settlers were indentured Irish servants transported to the New World against their will, much like the African slaves who followed after Montserrat became an English territory in 1632.
Sugar and Sea Island cotton plantations, along with rum, formed the backbone of Montserrat’s economy for several decades. France briefly captured the island in 1782, but became a British territory under the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolutionary War. This dramatic period in island history is displayed at the Montserrat National Trust headquarters (P. O. Box 393, Olveston).
St Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday after a failed March 17, 1768 slave uprising, but the island did not abolish slavery until 1834. When Montserrat’s economy suffered after sugar prices plummeted in the 19th century, a British philanthropist named Joseph Sturge purchased his own sugar estate in 1857 to prove that hiring paid workers was more beneficial than using slave labor. The Sturges became Montserrat’s most powerful family. They started a school, began Montserrat’s commercial lime juice industry and founded the Montserrat Company Limited. After the Sturges began selling land to the local population, most of the island was owned by shareholders.
Between 1871 and 1958, Montserrat was part of the British Leeward Islands colony, becoming part of the West Indies Federation during the following four years. After Sir George Martin opened his AIR recording studio in 1979, many of the world’s top musicians flocked to the island to record their albums in Montserrat’s private and tranquil surroundings.
Hurricane Hugo, however, brought an abrupt end to Montserrat’s growth when the Category 4 storm destroyed 90 percent of the island’s buildings, including AIR Studios. Once Montserrat recovered from that natural disaster, the long-dormant Soufrière Hills volcano buried Plymouth, the island’s capital, in over 39 feet of mud. The Soufrière Hills volcano also destroyed Montserrat’s airport and forced over half the population to relocate.
To this day, the southern part of Montserrat hit hardest by the Soufrière Hills volcano remains unsafe for people to live in or visit. To view the mighty volcano, you can head to Jack Boy Hill or the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (P. O. Box 318, Flemmings, Salem). The residents who chose to stay have worked hard to rebuild both their island and their tourism industry which is evident in their cheerful and welcoming hospitality.
Most of Montserrat’s population are descendants of people who arrived on the island against their will. These include not only the African slaves brought to the Caribbean, but also Irish indentured servants who first came to Montserrat during the 16th century. Irish influence remains strong in Montserrat, which has celebrated St Patrick’s Day as an official public holiday since 1768, the year a failed slave uprising broke out during Ireland’s national holiday.
Irish influence is also very much evident in Montserrat’s traditional music, especially the drumming and fife playing accompanying the standard Caribbean rhythms found elsewhere in the West Indies. Montserrat’s music contains several African influences such as shak-shak instruments made from calabash gourds. Cricket is Montserrat’s most popular sport and the British subjects are happy to welcome visitors to their casual and peaceful lifestyle.
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From Graces Guide
Joseph Sturge of Birmingham, philanthropist. Brothers included John Sturge, Charles Sturge and Edmund Sturge
1793 Born at Elberton, Gloucestershire, son of Joseph Sturge (1763–1817), a farmer and grazier, and his wife, Mary Marshall (d. 1819) of Alcester, Warwickshire.
In partnership with his brother Charles Sturge (1801–1888), who was associated with him in many of his later philanthropic acts, he created one of the largest grain-importing businesses in Britain.
With other family members he invested in railways and in the new docks at Gloucester.
1831 Devoted himself to philanthropy and public life.
1834 Married Eliza Cropper but she died in 1835
1846 Married Hannah Dickinson (1816–1896), daughter of ironmaster, Barnard Dickinson of Coalbrookdale, and grand-daughter of Abraham Darby (1750-1789)
1859 Joseph Sturge, anti-slavery campaigner and Quaker philanthropist, died at his home in Wheeley’s Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham on May 14th 1859