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Clapham Sect


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An influential evangelical network whose activity in the early 19th cent. found a base in Clapham. The name was popularized and perhaps coined by Sir James Stephen in the Edinburgh Review (1844). The banker Henry Thornton (1760–1815) provided the Clapham core but the ‘sect's’ dominant figure, their kinsman William Wilberforce, also lived there (1797–1808). The original group, ranging from Granville Sharp, the oldest, to Thomas Clarkson, the last survivor, provided some 60 years of public service. Their greatest victories were the abolition of the slave trade (1807) and of slavery itself in the British empire (1833).

Subjects: Religion


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