|Thomas Walker, 1794|
But long before that, I had come across the remarkable Thomas Walker, who had lived at Barlow Hall, and was the Boroughreeve*** for Manchester.
He was at the centre of radical political thought arguing for civil liberty, constitutional reform and the abolition of the slave trade.
In a letter to John Cartwright he condemned “that Christian wickedness, whereby an hundred thousand Africans are annually murdered” and in another letter sought help from Edward Cartwright, the inventor of power loom to procure “me a list of Wool Spinners and other manufacturers to whom our [abolitionist] papers might be sent with effect.”
And as Chairman of the Manchester Anti Slavery committee along with Thomas Cooper, and others, he saw the opportunities for building on the growing opposition in Manchester to the slave trade. He turned the visit of Thomas Clarkson in 1787 into a major propaganda event by persuading Clarkson to preach at the city’s Collegiate Church.
It was a great success, as Clarkson remarked “when I went into the church it was so full that I could scarcely get to my place; for notice had been publicly given. I was surprised, also, to find a great crowd of black people standing in the pulpit.” ****
The success of that Sunday sermon was followed up by a petition to Parliament which the Committee had already planned. In all over 11,000 people called for an end to the African trade. This amounted to one fifth of the city’s population reflecting working class opposition to the slave trade and the practical campaigning skills of Walker and the others.
But for every Thomas Walker there was a Wilbraham Egerton whose family had owned great chunks of south Manchester including Chorlton-cum-Hardy since the mid 18th century.
I missed his connection to the Slave trade but was alerted to it by Cllr Dave Rawson of Chorlton Park Ward, and I went looking on that database.
|The Insurrection, 1824|
Together as trustees they applied for and were granted on November 30th, 1835, £10058 15s 4d as compensation for the 185 individuals who had been slaves on the Greenwich Park plantation in Demerara in British Guiana.
The same database records that Greenwich Park had been owned by Margret Boode, née Dannett from 1817, passing to her daughter in 1826.
Back in 1817 the plantation owned 201 slaves, which had fallen to 190 in 1832.
Just how Wilbraham Egerton came to be a trustee is as unclear, but I know he took over from James Dannett, and that his fellow trustee, was related to the Egerton’s.
Nor is that quite all, because the Legacies database also records a young Emily Lawes Pink, who was born in Jamaica in 1819, lived in Chorlton on Medlock and was buried aged just 19 in our own parish graveyard, here in Chorlton.
|The Egerton's proposed three routes for their new road, 1853|
I did however come across an account of the “Insurrection of the Negro Slaves in the Colony of Demerara” ***** in 1823, which was published the following year.
And this may offer up more information on Greenwich Park.
All of which leaves Wilbraham Egerton, who was a class ridden old representative of the aristocracy, opposed to any progressive moves during his time in Parliament and after.
And that in turn offers up the uncomfortable link with the road that bears his name.
|The favoured route crossing Barlow Moor Lane, 1853|
Wilbraham Road was planned in the 1850s and was not cut for another decade.
By which time Wilbraham Egerton was dead.
And it is likely that this superhighway linking Stretford through Chorlton to Fallowfield was the work of his son or grandson.
Wilbraham Egerton died in 1856 and was succeeded by his son William, who named his son Wilbraham.
Of course, the Egerton Papers, may well include details of the deliberations that led to both the road and to its name. *******
We shall see.
Location; British Guiana, and Chorlton-cum-Hardy
Pictures; Thomas Walker, 1794, front cover, Account of An Insurrection of the Negro Slaves in the Colony of Demerara, 1824, proposed routes for what was to become Wilbraham Road, 1853
*Who in Chorlton owned a slave in the summer of 1831? https://chorltonhistory.blogspot.com/2020/05/who-in-chorlton-owned-slave-in-summer.html
**Legacies of British Slave-ownership, UCL, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/
***"The regulation of the police is in three officers, viz a Boroughreeve or Head-Borough, and two constables. These officers are annually elected in October by a jury of the Leet summoned by the Lord of the Manor. The Boroughreeve is considered the principle officer, presides at public meetings, is applied to upon all public business, has the distribution of certain charities...” Walker, Thomas, A Review of some of the events of the last five years, London 1794 page 23, Google edition page 194
**** Correspondence of Thomas Walker, quoted from Culture Minister defers export of anti slavery campaigner’s letters, Department of Culture, Media and Sports, February 25 2010
*****Clarkson, Thomas, History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishments of the Slave Trade, John Parker, London, New Edition 1839, Page 244, Google edition page 263
******Account Of An Insurrection of the Negro Slaves in the Colony of Demerara which broke out on the 18th of August, 1823, Bryant, Joshua, 1824
********Egerton Papers, M24 /1/15, Central Ref