After Abolition Came Naval Patrols

For decades after Britain abolished the slave trade, the Royal Navy moved from protecting the industry to pursuing slave ships and freeing the victims.

They were busy off the coast of West Africa from 1808 and in 1819 the West Africa Station captured 16,000 slave ships, freeing 150,000 slaves. There were many who opposed the huge expense and loss of sailors’ lives, but Wilberforce’s successor campaigned for it to continue.

If you visit old churches you may find memorials to sailors who died in this service, often from tropical diseases. They raided slave pens and pursued slavers up rivers which led to navy adopting steam to make arrests.

In poets corner , Bristol Cathedral is this brass memorial to Captain John Sanderson who probably gave his life to this cause. He died off the Congo River June 27 1859 and was buried at Loango.

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