The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society

Mayor Our Honorary President 2017-18:
His Worship Cllr Kevin Brookes, Mayor of Weymouth
  Harriott Our Patron:
Mr Ainsley Harriott, TV Chef

About the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society

The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society was formed on 1st August 2010 after a meeting with Mr Paul Kimber, Mayor of Weymouth and Portland, Councillor Bill White and local people. A draft constitution has been drawn up and which was discussed at the inaugural meeting (see below). By clicking the buttons on the sidebar, you can download a pdf copy of the constitution and a membership form

The then Mayor kindly agreed to become Honorary President of the Society and to propose to the council that subsequent holders of the Mayoralty will follow suit

Aims of the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society

The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society has the following aims:

The Society held its inaugural meeting on 16th February 2011, the account of which is reported below

December 2011: The Thomas Fowell Buxton (TFB) Society was recognised by HMRC as a Charity

With the agreement of 86% of the members, the Society adopted a new constitution with the following object:

This new constitution follows the model constitution for small charities recommended by the Charities Commission.

HM Revenue and customs confirmed on 5th December 2011 that the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society is a Charity for tax purposes with effect from 4th November 2011. Also that the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society is confirmed as a charitable company (Ref XT 31347)

September 2014: The Thomas Fowell Buxton Society (TFBS) became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation

This is a new type of organisation which fits our small society.

The Society is recognised by the Charity Commission and has a registration number 1,158,648

A copy of the TFBS Charity's Governing Document can be downloaded by clicking this link


Download the minutes of AGM 2012 here

Download the minutes of AGM 2013 here

Download the minutes of AGM 2014 here

Download the minutes of AGM 2015 here

Download the minutes of AGM 2016 here

Download the minutes of AGM 2017 here


The inaugural meeting of the Society was held on Wednesday 16th February 2011 at St Augustine's Hall Weymouth. The Mayor, Cllr Paul Kimber presided and Dr John Fannon took the Chair. Attendees were:

  • The Mayor, Mr Paul Kimber, Honorary President;    The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Graham Winter;   Mrs Mary Winter;
  • Cllr David Mannings;   Cllr Bill White;   Dr John Fannon; Acting Chairman;   Mrs Joyce Fannon;   
  • Henry Brackenbury; Acting Treasurer;   Mrs Marilyn Brackenbury;    Mr John Birtwhistle;   Mr Ben Buxton;
  • Ms Barbara Cohen;   Mr Richard Cropper;   Miss Chloë Fenton;   Mrs Elsa Fenton;   Mrs Jane Marlborough;
  • Mr Alan McKechan;   Mrs Anne McKechan;   Mr Trefor Morgan;  Mrs Liliane Mutton;   Mrs Margaret Naine;
  • Mr John Nairn;   Mrs Elisabeth Orrell;   Mr John Tomblin;   Mr Karl Williams;   Mr Roy Parry;

Apologies were received from Cllr Anne Kenwood and Cllr Joy Winstanley

1. Welcome

The Mayor welcomed everyone to this, the inaugural meeting of the Society. Early last summer he had been approached by a small action group comprising Cllr Bill White, John and Joyce Fannon and Henry and Marilyn Brackenbury to discuss the need to celebrate the achievements of one of Weymouth's most illustrious MPs. He had advised that a grass roots organisation needed to emerge. Following this, the Society was formed last August and draft constitution drawn up. He was delighted to be invited to become Honorary President. Such was the support of the Borough Council that he was confident that his successors would also be happy to undertake this role. Much work had been carried out in the intervening months by the action group in the run up to this inaugural meeting, and this would be reported presently. The Mayor then invited Dr Fannon to chair the remainder of the meeting and Dr Fannon asked Bill White to begin the procedings by reminding us of the need for this Society.

2. Background - the need for a Thomas Fowell Buxton Society

Cllr Bill White, said that the life and achievements of Thomas Fowell Buxton were a treasure, long forgotten in Weymouth and it was time to rectify this. As the Olympics were approaching - with equal opportunities for all, it was surely appropriate to reflect on Thomas Fowell Buxton's achievements in abolishing slavery in the British Empire. The motto which he took 'Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might' was surely a spur to us to achieve a suitable monument to him and to ensure that his name was now to be continuously remembered as one of the Olympic Legacies.

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3. Thomas Fowell Buxton - the Man and his Achievements

Mrs Joyce Fannon who had researched the life and times of Thomas Fowell Buxton over many years then gave a 20 minute synopsis of this man's achievements, with the aid of the following timeline distributed to the attendees.

  • 1807 Slave Trade abolished.
  • 1808 Thomas Fowell Buxton married Hannah Gurney. Her sister was Elizabeth Fry, who figures with Thomas Fowell Buxton on the back of the £5 note. He later supported his sister in law in effecting prison reform.
  • 1808 he joined the brewing firm later to be known as "Trueman, Hanbury and Buxton". In Spitalfields, London. Engaged a teacher to teach the workers, including children, to read and write.
  • 1814, on death of Sarah Buxton Thomas Fowell Buxton inherited Belfield Estate in Wyke Regis, Weymouth. He had known Belfied House, A beautiful Georgian palladian mansion, throughout his youth on frequent visits to his grandmother.
  • 1815 gave £100 towards the rebuilding of St Mary's Church in Weymouth.
  • 1817 his brother Charles Buxton died in Weymouth and buried at All Saints Church Wyke Regis. He had married a local girl- Martha Henning.
  • 1818 Thomas Fowell Buxton elected to Parliament as MP for Weymouth.
  • 1820 death of George III and re-election of Thomas Fowell Buxton to Parliament. Same year four of his children died within a month and family moved from Brick Lane in Spitalfields to Cromer in Norfolk to be near his wife's family.
  • 1823 Thomas Fowell Buxton took over the Anti Slavery Society from his friend and mentor, William Wilberforce.
  • 1823 Revolt in Demerara. Thomas Fowell Buxton blamed and lampooned in the press as being responsible due to his opposition to slavery.
  • 1823-1833 hard work at the parliamentary level towards abolishing slavery. Also involved in bringing down the number of crimes meriting capital punishment from over 200 down to 8. Also worked for the abolition of suttee in India, where widows were put on their husbands' funeral pyres.
  • 1832 Slave Revolt in Jamaica.
  • 1833 Slavery abolished in British Empire. Thomas Fowell Buxton became known as "Liberator" within his family.
  • He retired from politics in 1837. The Weymouth electors did not return him to parliament.
  • 1839 Thomas Fowell Buxton (C of E) and his Quaker wife went to Rome and had audience with the Pope, Gregory XVI. All three passionately pro-active against slavery.
  • 1840 made "Baronet of Bellfield in the County of Dorset and of Runton in the County of Norfolk".
  • 1845 Thomas Fowell Buxton died at his home Northrepps Hall, Norfolk aged 59 years old.

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4. Activities currently being undertaken

4a. Plans for a Monument

Dr Fannon then outlined the activities that were being taken to have a monument erected in Weymouth in a prominent position to coincide with next year's Olympic Games. As Weymouth college had an international reputation for stone masonry, the action group decided to approach the college to enquire about the practicality of building a monument and received immediate and enthusiastic support. The Mayor accompanied the action group to the Dorset Skills Centre at Poundbury in early December and the outcome was that the students were invited to compete amongst themselves for a design which had to meet the following criteria.

  • To make known Thomas Fowell Buxton, the man and to celebrate his achievements
  • To be a credit to Weymouth

At the same time, the design needed to be practicable (i.e. could be built) and also had to meet the the requirements of the syllabus. The designs will be judged in early May. The winning design will be built during the academic year beginning September 2011 and will completed in early summer 2012.

The action group contacted the Weymouth and Portland planning department and also the Dorset Highways Department, who are both very supportive. The most favoured site at present is the Manor Roundabout at the junction of the new relief road and the start of Weymouth Way. It is essentially the gateway to Weymouth and would be seen by all vistors entering the town

The sequence of events is understood to be:

  • Finalise the Design, estimate weight, get engineers' judgment
  • Prepare foundations at the agreed site
  • Procure stone
  • Estimate blockwork required to construct monument
  • Stone delivered from Quarry to Weymouth College Stone Store
  • Stone is sawn up and prepared for students to work on
  • Stone blocks delivered to Dorset Skills Centre
  • Students work on the stone to prepare the monument
  • Mock-up Assembly to check it all fits together
  • Carry out blockwork at the site for any plinth
  • Transport dressed stone to site for erection of monument
  • Clad the blockwork with dressed stone to assemble the monument
  • Erect superstructure

4b. Education Initiatives

While the current focus was on the procurement of a monument this must not be allowed to cloud the longer term issues of the need to keep the memory of Thomas Fowell Buxton alive in the town.

Education initiatives have already been put in train with initial contact being made with Kris Hallet of Dorset Community Action with regard to a multicultural link up and also with Elisabeth Orrell of Fair Trade. There has been agreement for a joint meeting in April towards a possible combined educational package for both Primary and Secondary Schools in the area.

There is only a certain amount of information that can be put on the monument and we needed to set up opportunities in the town for those wishing to know more. These might be via Tourist Information, biography in W H Smith's Dorset Section, historical tourist trails in the town and a section in the Museum when it is reinstated.

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The meeting adjourned for 20 minutes for people to take refreshments and the acting Treasurer Henry Brackenbury collected subscriptions. The meeting then reconvened with only the signed up members present to consider the draft constitution, which was distributed to all present

5. The Draft Constitution

The constitution was accepted with the following amendments

  • the aims of the Society should also include an emphasis on education
  • the aims of the Society should also include to work to end racism
  • the Society should establish links with the Anti-slavery Society in London
  • the annual accounts submitted by the Treasurer should be audited by an independent person

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6. Election of Committee Members

On a suggestion by Bill White, it was agreed that the meeting should seek people willing to serve on a committee and then at the first meeting, the committee should elect people to take the responsbilities set out in the constitution. It was also suggested and agreed that any member of the Society shuld be free to attend committee meetings (giving due notice to the Secretary), with the proviso that they should be willing to accept tasks that might be placed on them at such meetings. The following people voluntered to join the committee:

  • Henry Brackenbury;   Marilyn Brackenbury;   Barbara Cohen;   John Fannon;   Joyce Fannon;
  • Paul Kimber (after his Mayoral duties had finished);   David Mannings;   Trefor Morgan;   Liliane Mutton;
  • Elisabeth Orrell;   Bill White   

Mr Alan McKechan proposed that the society accept these nominations, Jane Marlborough seconded and the proposal was carried

7. Adjournment

Trefor Morgan pointed out that 1st August, the date of the constitution of the Thomas Fowell Buxton Society was also the anniversary of the Act of Parliament in 1833 which formally brought slavery to an end in the British Empire. An auspicious choice! He also reminded people that Buxton's birthday was 7th April and is coming up shortly. It was perhaps possible to organise some sort of event for that day (a Thursday this year). (This could be considered by the committee.

The Chairman then thanked all for attending the meeting, and thanked Marilyn Brackenbury for looking after everyone, with the refreshments. Members who have volunteered to join the committee would be notified quickly as to the date of the first meeting. The meeting was then adjourned.

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