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John Clarkson (d.1828)

John Clarkson was born at Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, the son of the headmaster of Wisbech Grammar School. He entered the Royal Navy at the age of twelve and reached the rank of lieutenant in 1783, whereupon he retired on half-pay. In 1791, Clarkson was sent to Nova Scotia by the directors of the newly-formed Sierra Leone Company to recruit settlers from among the free black population. In 1792 he brought nearly two thousand of them to West Africa and was appointed governor of the colony of Sierra Leone. His tenure lasted less than a year, as his willingness to champion the cause of the colonists did not endear him to the Company. He subsequently went into business in Essex and was a founder of the Society for the Promotion of Universal Peace.

Clarkson was a devout evangelical Christian and a fervent supporter of abolition. His brother Thomas was also a leading light in the anti-slavery movement.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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