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Newton, John  

John Gilmore

Clergyman of the Church of England who led what he later considered to be a reprobate youth and worked in the slave trade. It was while on a slaving voyage (1748–9) that he experienced a religious conversion. Nevertheless, he continued to work in the slave trade, and made three more voyages before retiring from the sea in 1754. He became widely known as an evangelical Christian, and was eventually ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1764, serving first in the parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire, and later, from 1780 until his death, at St Mary Woolnoth in London.

At Olney, Newton became a close friend of the poet William Cowper, and together they wrote the collection known as the Olney Hymns. Newton's own contributions include the words to some of the best known hymns in the English language ...

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Peckard, Peter  

John Gilmore

Clergyman of the Church of England and campaigner against the slave trade. Peckard was educated at the University of Oxford and held various positions in the Church before becoming Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1781. He retained this office until his death, and was also Dean of Peterborough from 1792.

In 1785, as Vice‐Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Peckard set the subject for a university Latin essay competition: Anne liceat invitos in servitutem dare? [‘Is it lawful to make men slaves against their will?’] The prize was won by Thomas Clarkson, who entered the competition in search of academic honours but discovered his life's work in the process.

Peckard was himself an eloquent critic of the slave trade. In a 1788 sermon before the University of Cambridge he stated that there was no validity in any of the arguments usually brought forward ...