Transcription from the Yearly Meeting minutes (Volume 17/298 – 307)
To the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled.
The Petition of the People called Quakers,
That your Petitioners met in this their annual assembly, having solemnly considered the state of the enslaved negroes, conceive themselves engaged in religious duty, to lay the suffering situation of that unhappy people before you, as a subject loudly calling for the humane interposition of the Legislature.
Your Petitioners regret, that a nation professing the Christian Faith, should so far counteract the principles of humanity and justice as by a cruel treatment of this oppressed race, to fill their minds with prejudices against the mild and beneficent doctrines of the Gospel.
Under the countenance of the laws of this country, many thousands of these our fellow-creatures, entitled to natural rights of mankind, are held, as personal property, in cruel bondage; and your Petitioners being informed, that a Bill for the regulation of the African trade is now before the House, containing a clause which restrains the officers of the African Company from exporting Negroes. Your Petitioners, deeply affected with a consideration of the rapine, oppression, and bloodshed attending this traffic, humbly request that this restriction may be extended to all persons whatsoever, or that the House would grant such other relief in the premises, as in its wisdom may seem meet.
Signed in and on behalf of our yearly meeting, held in London, the 16th day of 6th month, 1783.
Petition from London Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends, presented to Parliament on 16 June 1783
The petition that the Yearly Meeting sent to Parliament is transcribed in both the Yearly Meeting minutes (Volume 17/298 – 307) and Meeting for Sufferings minutes (Volume 36/ 408 – 413). This transcript is from the Yearly Meeting minutes.
This was the first petition made to Parliament and was signed by 273 Quaker members, including William Rathbone, Dr Jonathan Binns, and Samuel Hoare Jnr.