Category Archives: Life and works

TFB’s eventful life and the achievements

The Mayor Making Ceremony at Weymouth, 2013 – and a little History

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Cllr Ray Banham, Mayor of Weymouth and Hon. President of the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society

On Thursday, my wife and I, were invited to attend the ‘Mayor making Ceremony’ at the Pavilion Theatre Weymouth, when Councillor Ray Banham was elected as this year’s Mayor of Weymouth. The Thomas Fowell buxton society has a special interest because all the Mayors since the Society was inaugurated in 2010 have consented to be our Honorary President.

As deputy Mayor, Ray had attended our AGM in February and kindly took the Chair for the afternoon.

In Mayor Banham’s inaugural speech, he mentioned that the office of Mayor was instituted in 1571 by Queen Elizabeth. As I was not taking notes, I wanted to make sure that I had heard correctly, and therefore decided to do some googling about Weymouth’s history. Sure enough, google found a book by an Nineteenth Century Antiquarian “The History and antiquities of the Borough and Town of Weymouth” by George Alfred Ellis 1829, and I was able to scan through the pages and locate the event 1st June 1571.

The boroughs of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis facing each other across the harbour had been so long at loggerheads, complaining to Parliament that the Queen decided to sort it all out by combining them into a single unit. Bernard Maior, was the first Mayor and Cllr Ray Banham is his 430th successor!

In this same history book, there is an account of our hero TFB and his election to Parliament in 1826. (Recall that he had first been elected in 1818 and by 1823 he was leading the anti-slavery movement. This election was important to him and the cause.) This was a stormy election – with armed mobs roaming the town and the  Military called out to keep the King’s peace. The account states:

The military conducted themselves with great degree of forbearance, though provoked by repeated acts of imprudence; the chief magistrate was knocked down, the hall taken by storm, polling books destroyed, and the poll closed by force and arms. The town itself though protected by the military who scoured the streets, and by an extra number of the posse commitatus  hired at 5s. per day, was a scene of wild anarchy riot and confusion, for such were the horrid contests that ensued that nearly betokened a civil war; neither did the close of the poll arrest the irascibility of the malevolent passions excited! Legal proceedings were instituted at the County hall, pecuniary compensations were awarded and several of the most active were incarcerated in the county gaol.” 

After everything had settled down the votes for the candidates were as follows:

T. F. Buxton, Esq.                   248

Colonel Gordon                      189

Rt. Hon. Thos. Wallace           177

Masterton Ure Esq.                 170

J. W. Farrer, Esq.                    153

So Buxton and Gordon, Wallace and Ure were returned as members for Weymouth. This was before the parliamentary reform act when Weymouth returned 4 members to Parliament.

 

 

Welcome to Buxtonabilia!

This is a space where admirers of the work of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton can exchange views, and post news items. This will include Buxton memorabilia, hence the name of this blog “Buxtonabilia” 

Who was Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton and why are we so interested in him?

Buxton was a philanthropist and Parliamentarian and was MP for Weymouth, Dorset between 1818 athomas2nd 1837. During his time in Parliament he achieved many changes for the common good. but his most memorable achievement was the Act of Parliament of 1833 to abolish slavery in the British Empire.

William Wilberforce’s Act of 1807, abolished the Slave Trade, but people were still enslaved on the plantations. Their children were not their own, and they or their children could be sold on. It was necessary to finish the task.

Thomas Fowell Buxton took over the leadership of the anti-slavery movement in parliament from William Wilberforce in 1821

.In 1833 after a long campaign in which he was subjected to virulence, lampooning and attempts at character assassination, he succeeded in having Parliament pass an Act for the liberation of slaves. All slaves became free from midnight on 1st August 1834. On that day, 800,000 slaves ceased to be property, bought and sold at market like cattle, subject to arbitrary and often very cruel punishments, and with no standing in law. They became citizens, able to own property, maintain their marriages and families and their children became their own.

In spite of many people’s fears, the liberation passed off peacefully. There was no revenge, and neither did the erstwhile owners misbehave. Buxton and his colleagues had achieved the liberation by parliamentary process – something that could only be achieved in the USA by a great civil war.

Buxton inherited Belfield House, Wyke Regis, Weymouth from his grandmother in 1814. Belfield House, fully completed in 1786 is in the palladian style, and is in private hands today.

Buxton lost his Parliamentary seat in the 1837 election and retired from politics. In 1840 he was made “Baronet Buxton of Belfield in the County of Dorset and of Runton in the County of Norfolk“.

However, the years of hard work had taken its toll. He died at Norfolk in 1845 at the comparatively early age of 59.