Slavery abolitionists celebrated
Ipswich street names
The bi-centenary of the
Abolition of Slavery Act
which became law on 25th March, 1807 gave us all a chance to reflect on
the spoils of Empire and the price paid by so many anonymous people who
were sold into slavery in the production of those vast riches. Two of
the important figures in the history of Ipswich are Dykes Alexander and
his son Richard Dykes Alexander, a noted photographer of the town. The
latter built his house on the corner of St Matthews Street and Portman
Road; long empty, this distinguished building was in 2009 extended and
refurbished as student flats. When Richard Dykes Alexander made land
for housing in the 1850s he stipulated that some of the street names
should be those of leading abolitionists. Four British names and
arguably four American names appear in the list.
Gibbons (1801-1893): an American Quaker who aided runaway
slaves; she also nursed in the American Civil War and became a teacher.
Her father, Isaac Hopper, and her new husband, James Gibbons, were
disowned by the Society of Quakers for their anti-slavery
activities. See Elliott Street Bakery.
(1789-1828): a Quaker and doctor of medicine. He created a an American
institution for the education and maintenance of children of African
and Indian descent and he lived in Burlington, New Jersey, whence we
get the name Burlington Road.
(1758-1797): an MP and friend of Wilberforce and Pitt, in whose
government he served. An active supporter of abolition. On wonders why
the 'l' and 't' in the name were doubled when it came to the
street-naming. See Elliott Street Bakery.
Could it be that Elliott Street in Ipswich is actually named after
(1759-1833): independent MP for Kingston Upon Hull, friend of William
Pitt (The Younger). The main public face of the activisits, he is
buried in Westminster Abbey next to Pitt. See also Primitive Methodist Chapel.
(1713-1784): born in France, moved to Holland, London and finally to
Philadelphia; he bacame a Quaker. His writing influenced Clarkson's
Cambridge essay opposing slavery. We have a comparison
of period and contemporary views of Benezet
(1735-1813) challenged slavery in law and was the first President of
the 1787 Abolition Committee. Interesting that the Borough chose the
first name of this gentleman for the street name, particularly as we
haven't been able to trace an already-existing 'Sharp Street'.
Above: Dillwyn Street: so good they
named it twice.
Dillwyn (-1824): a Quaker merchant born in Philadephia, he
campaigned against slavery in England from 1774. His daughter married
Richard Dykes Alexander (see our Plaques
(1760-1846) is the best known of the abolitionists, living for the last
thirty years of his life at the late 16th century Playford Hall.
William Wilberforce's right
hand man, he is said to have travelled 10,000 miles on horseback over
twenty years interviewing sailors, lecturing, collecting facts and
eyewitness accounts for the movement and for Wilberforce's speeches.
There is a memorial to Clarkson in Playford church. Home of St Matthews Hall lettering. See also Primitive Methodist Chapel.
see Samuel Emlen (above). The sign unearthed from its moorings, leans
against the former Presbyterian church wall (The Oasis Centre) in
Richard Dykes Alexander's house is situated at the top of Mill Street
(now the upper section of Portman Road) as it meets St Matthews Street.
The map detail (above) from White's map of
Ipswich 1867 shows the garden behind the house in which the
pioneering photographer was himself photographed with family members
The large parcel of land which he owned enabled the residential streets
to be laid out celebrating the slavery abolitionists in their naming.
date two curving roads come off the centre of Burlington Road and they
are 'Burlington Road North' (meeting Benezet
Street at London Road) and 'Burlington Road
South' (meeting Mill Street). Today they are Stevenson Road and Galton
Road respectively. In 1867 Gibbons Street and Elliott Street had not
We are indebted to the Ipswich Society Newsletter,
Issue 168, July 2007
for this information.
name plaque examples: Alston Road;
Cauldwell Hall Road; Cavendish Street; Marlborough Road; Rosehill area;
Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land
Society (F.L.S.); California
Street index; Origins of street names
Dated buildings list; Dated buildings examples;
Named (& sometimes dated) buildings
Street nameplate examples; Brickyards
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throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
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