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Zachary Macaulay


1768 - 1838

Abolitionist. Born in Inveraray (Argyll & Bute), the son of the parish minister and younger brother of Colin Macaulay (1768 - 1838), a Lieutenant-General in the Indian Army. He was largely self-taught and began his career in a merchant's office in Glasgow but was soon sent to work on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, where he became horrified by slavery.

He returned to Britain in 1789 and began working for the emancipation of slaves, and was seen as a leading member of the campaign which eventually brought about the Slave Trade Act of 1807. In 1790, he was invited to Sierra Leone, the colony in West Africa set up for freed slaves. He returned to serve as Governor 1794-99 and his period in office was regarded as successful in the early development of the colony. Following the successful abolition of slavery in Britain, Macaulay went on to work for the adoption of similar legislation in other European countries and sought the complete outlawing of slavery across the globe.

He was active in the Clapham Sect of the Church of England, an evangelical group, and edited the Christian Observer (1802-16). Macaulay was also a passionate educator, supported the initiatives of Dr. Andrew Bell (1753 - 1832) and was one of the principal founders of the University of London.

Macaulay died in London and has a memorial in Westminster Abbey.


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