1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buxton, Sir Thomas Fowell

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BUXTON, SIR THOMAS FOWELL (1786-1845), English philanthropist, was born in Essex on the 1st of April 1786, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where, in spite of his early education having been neglected, hard work made him one of the first men of his time, with a high reputation as a speaker. In 1807 he married Hannah Gurney, sister of the celebrated Elizabeth Fry. As his means were not sufficient to support his family, he entered in 1808 the brewery of Truman, Hanbury & Company, of which his uncles, the Hanburys, were partners. He devoted himself to business with characteristic energy, became a partner in 1811, and soon had the whole concern in his hands. In 1816 he brought himself into notice by his speech on behalf of the Spitalfields weavers, and in 1818 he published his able Inquiry into Prison Discipline. The same year he was elected M.P. for Weymouth, a borough for which he continued to sit till 1837. In the House of Commons he had a high reputation as an able and straightforward speaker, devoted to philanthropic schemes. Of these plans the most important was that for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies. Buxton devoted his life to this object, and through defeat and opposition, despite the attacks of enemies and the remonstrances of faint-hearted friends, he remained true to it. Not till 1833 was he successful, and even then only partially, for he was compelled to admit into the bill some clauses against which his better judgment had decided. In 1837 he ceased to sit in the House of Commons. He travelled on the continent in 1839 to recruit his health, which had given way, and took the opportunity of inspecting foreign prisons. He was made a baronet in 1840, and then devoted himself to a plan for ameliorating the condition of the African natives. The failure of the Niger expedition of 1841 was a blow from which he never recovered. He died on the 19th of February 1845.

See[edit]

  • Memoir and Correspondence of Sir T.F. Buxton (1848), by his third son, Charles Buxton (1823-1871), a well-known philanthropist and member of parliament.