Thomas Fowell Buxton

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, politician, philanthropist and slave trade abolitionist, was born on 1st April 1786, eldest son of Thomas and Anna (Hanbury). He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and in 1807 married Hannah Gurney (d.1872), who came from a Quaker family. He interested himself in prison and legal reforms and was a member of the African Institution and Vice President of the Anti-Slavery Society, as well as a benefactor to the RSPCA. Sir Thomas was made a baronet and died in Norfolk on 19th February 1845. He is buried at Overstrand church. His son Edward (1812-1858) succeeded to the title and another son Charles (1822-1871) became a politician. Charles erected a memorial fountain for his father in the gardens adjoining the Houses of Parliament.

A seated statue, by sculptor Frederick Thrupp, was erected in the north choir aisle of Westminster Abbey, near William Wilberforce's monument. The inscription reads:

To the memory of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Bart., born April 1. 1786, died February 19. 1845. Endued with a vigorous and capacious mind, of dauntless courage and untiring energy, he was early led by the love of God to devote his powers to the good of Man. In Parliament he laboured for the improvement of prison discipline, for the amendment of the criminal code, for the suppression of suttees in India, for the liberation of the Hottentots in southern Africa, and above all, for the emancipation of eight hundred thousand slaves in the British Dominions. In this last righteous enterprize, after ten years of arduous conflict, a final victory was given to him and his co-adjutors, "By the good hand of our God" on the memorable 1st of August 1834. The energies of his mind were afterwards concentrated on a great attempt to extinguish the slave trade in Africa, by the substitution of agriculture and commerce, and by the civilizing influence of the Gospel. Exhausted in mind and body, "He fell asleep" reposing in faith on his Redeemer, in the 59th year of his age. This monument is erected by his friends and fellow labourers at home and abroad; assisted by the grateful contributions of many thousands of the African race.

Further reading

Charles Buxton "Memoirs of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton", 1848

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004



1st April 1786


19th February 1845


Politician; philanthropist; abolitionist


North Choir Aisle

Memorial Type


Material Type


Thomas Fowell Buxton
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Bt by William Holl Sr, or by William Holl Jr, after Henry Perronet Briggs

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

Thomas Fowell Buxton
Thomas Fowell Buxton monument

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2023 Dean and Chapter of Westminster