Edward Colston (2 November 1636 – 11 October 1721) was a
Bristol-born English slave
A controversial presence: the 1895
statue of Edward Colston
Much of his wealth, although used often for generous
purposes, was acquired through the trade and exploitation of
Life and career
He was born 2 november 1636
in Church Street, Bristol, the youngest of at
least fifteen children. His parents were William Colston
, a prosperous merchant and
Batten). He was brought up in Bristol until the time
of the English Civil War, when he
probably lived for a while on his father's estate in Winterbourne, south Gloucestershire. The family then moved to London where Edward
may have been a pupil at Christ's Hospital.
He founded many succesful schools such as which is a very well
rated school, Colston Primary school, which is great to kick start
bright happy children. Ther is also Colston Coliegites aswell. All
of these schools are in his home town, Bristol.
apprenticed to the Mercers Company
for eight years and by 1672 was shipping goods from London.
up a lucrative business, trading with Spain, Portugal, Italy and Africa.
In 1680, Colston became a member of
the Royal African Company
which had held the monopoly in Britain
and slave trading since 1662.
His parents had resettled in Bristol and in 1682 he made a loan to
the Corporation, the following year becoming a member of the
Society of Merchant
and a burgess
1684 he inherited his brother's mercantile business in Small
Street, and was a partner in a sugar refinery in St. Peter's
Churchyard; shipping sugar from St. Kitts. But he was never resident in Bristol,
carrying on his London business from Mortlake in Surrey until he
retired in 1708.
almshouses in King Street and on St. Michaels Hill, endowed Queen
Elizabeth's Hospital school and helped found Colston's School, which opened in 1710 leaving an endowment to be
managed by the Society of Merchant Venturers for its upkeep.
He gave money to schools in Temple and other parts of Bristol, and
to several churches and the cathedral. He was a strong Tory
and high-churchman, and was returned as Member of Parliament
(MP) for Bristol
in 1710 for
just one parliament. David Hughson writing in 1808 described
Colston:[Cromwell House was certainly the residence, in the
last century, of] that excellent man Edward Colston, Esq. the great
benefactor of the city of Bristol, who, in his lifetime, expended
more than 10,000L. [£] in charitable
He died 11 October 1721
at his home, (old) Cromwell House (demolished
1857), in Mortlake. His body was carried back to Bristol and was
buried at All Saints
His tomb was designed by James Gibbs
Colston and Bristol today
A statue, designed by John
Cassidy, was erected in the centre of Bristol in 1895
commemorating Colston. He was widely viewed as an
inspirational figure for the city, due to his donations of money to
schools and other causes. His name permeates the city in such
landmarks as Colston
Hall, Colston Hill, Colston
Street, Colston Parade, Colston's Girls' School and Colston's School. He is also remembered,
particularly in schools, by Colston's Day, on 13 November.
Cromwell House, Mortlake.
Where Colston died in 1721
A popular British bread, the Colston bun
is named after Sir Edward Colston