Letters from anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce to Abel Smith

Jill Barber

Letters from William Wilberforce to Abel Smith, 1822-30

Abel Smith of Woodhall Park, Watton-at-Stone, is 33 when the aging Wilberforce writes to his ‘young friend’ in this letter, dated 1822, to ask him to be an executor of his will.

Wilberforce names the other executors as John Thornton and James Stephen, who was the son of the legal mastermind behind the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

Abel Smith was MP for Hertford, and ‘the estimation in which I hold you’, suggests that he shared Wilberforce’s convictions, and was a fellow supporter in Parliament of the abolition of slavery.

Four letters from William Wilberforce survive in the Abel Smith collection at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies [D/EAS/4414-17].

This page was added on 15/09/2010.

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  • In 1804 in Philadelphia my lineage grandfather, Oliver hale, a descendant of samuel hale (baptized 1615 at watton at stone) indentured to Glastonbury Connecticut in 1630, was involved in a 13 day hearing on the abolition of slavery…..environmental minds think alike? Maybe watton at stone was the epicenter of the movement.

    By Ken Hale (06/11/2022)