Teston Connection with the Anti-Slavery Bill 1807
In July 2007 the Village of Teston held a series of events to commemorate the connection of the Parish with the movement to abolish the British Slave Trade, and the passing of the Anti Slave Trade Bill in 1807.
Much of the evidence of the horrific conditions suffered by the Slaves both in the transportation, sale and working conditions, was provided by the Reverend James Ramsay. A Naval surgeon, he was invalided out of the British Navy after service in the West Indies, where he had observed at first hand the degradation of the Slaves in transit.
Ramsay took up Holy Orders, and from 1762 to 1781 was in charge of the livings of Christchurch, Nicolatown, and St John’s Capisterre, St Christopher (St Kitts).
Whilst there, Ramsay was in constant conflict with the wealthy West Indies interest, as he struggled to improve the conditions of the slaves physically, spiritually and economically.
Eventually he returned to England, taking up the livings of St Peter & St Paul, Teston and St Mary, Nettlestead, residing in the Vicarage at Teston, near to his old friend and commander, Sir Charles Middleton, later Lord Barham. Whilst here at Teston, Ramsay took up the pen, publishing pamphlets, letters and papers, which drew much vitriolic criticism from those with interests in the economics of the highly profitable Slave Trade. Ramsay’s friends Sir Charles and Lady Margaret Middleton, who lived at Barham Court, Teston, were devout Evangelical Christians. They supported Ramsay, and encouraged him, giving his ideas and information direct access to those in the highest office in the land, and to others who were pursuing the cause of the Slaves. Indeed it was the Middletons and Ramsay who gave William Wilberforce the impetus to take up the cause in Parliament.