ABSTRACT

Buxton (1786–1845) was a lifelong humanitarian campaigner. As a child he spent much time with the Gurneys, a prominent Norwich family of bankers and philanthropists, and after a brilliant career as a student at Trinity College, Dublin, he married into the family. The prison reformer Elizabeth Fry was his sister-in-law. He went into the brewery business in London, and in 1816 led a fund-raising campaign to help the starving poor there. Following his sister-in-law’s lead, and the example of earlier campaigners such as John Howard, he investigated prison conditions in England and especially London, and published his Inquiry to national and international acclaim. Buxton was elected to Parliament the same year and joined the prison reform group there. He took up the anti-slavery campaign and eventually became one of its leading figures, succeeding William Wilberforce.