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The Clapham Sect was an influential group of like-minded Church of England social reformers in Englandmarker at the beginning of the nineteenth century (active c. 1790 – 1830).

Campaigns and successes

Its members were chiefly prominent and wealthy evangelical Anglican who shared common political views concerning the liberation of slaves, the abolition of the slave trade and the reform of the penal system.

The group's name originates from Claphammarker, then a village south of London (today part of south-west London), where both Wilberforce and Thornton, the sect's two most influential leaders, resided and where many of the group's meetings were held. They were supported by Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London, who sympathised with many of their aims.

After many decades of work both in British society and in Parliamentmarker, the group saw their efforts rewarded with the final passage of the Slave Trade Act in 1807, banning the trade throughout the British Empire and, after many further years of campaigning, the total emancipation of British slaves with the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. They also campaigned vigorously for Britain to use its influence to eradicate slavery throughout the world.

Lampooned in their day as "the saints", the group published a journal, the Christian Observer, edited by Zachary Macaulay and were also credited with the foundation of several missionary and tract societies, including the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Church Missionary Society.


Members of the Clapham Sect included:


See also

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