Robert Wedderburn - (1762 - 1835) Abolitionist, Writer & Preacher
'The earth cannot be justly the private property of individuals, because it was never manufactured by man;
therefore whoever sold it, sold that which was not his own.'
Robert Wedderburn was born in Jamaica in 1762. He was the son of a Jamaican slave Rosanna and
James Wedderburn, a respected member of Edinburgh society who made a very handsome fortune
from the Jamaican slavery trade.
He was never acknowledged by his father and is rarely spoken
of in relation to the famous Scottish Wedderburn family.
Robert, who was born a free man due to a concession his mother sought whilst pregnant, was well educated in Jamaica.
There he was also witness to the terrible atrocities that slavery inflicted and began to battle against the injustices
of the slave trade.
He set off for London in 1779, some say to try and establish a relationship with his father who he had previously only met once in his life. However, on his arrival in London, he was disowned by his father, who claimed that Robert was lying and simply trying to get hold of
the family fortune.
Robert went on to become a leading activist against slavery and was imprisoned for attacking the government’s position on
the slave trade. The Home Secretary called him a 'notorious firebrand' and he was put on the Government's secret list of 33 leading reformers. On release
from his two-year sentence in Dorchester prison, Robert published The Horrors Of Slavery, a vivid record of the history, ideas and rhetoric of the movement to abolish slavery.
Robert Wedderburn, was a prolific writer. Perhaps his most famous work was the anti-slavery The Axe Laid to the Root, in which he set out his communistic principles.
'The earth cannot be justly the private property of individuals, because it was never manufactured by man; therefore whoever sold it, sold that which was not his own.' The Axe Laid To The Root.'
'I thank my God, that through a long life of hardship and adversity, I have ever been free in both mind and body: and have always raised my voice on behalf of my enslaved countrymen' The Horrors of Slavery.
Indeed we owe a lot to this mixed-race young man who could have been content with being born free in such terrible times. He died at the age of 73 in London, just one year after the abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade, and was still not accepted as a true Wedderburn.