Thomas Pringle

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Thomas Pringle

Thomas Pringle (5 January 1789 – 5 December 1834) was a Scottish writer, poet and abolitionist. Known as the father of South African poetry, he was the first successful English language poet and author to describe South Africa's scenery, native peoples, and living conditions.

Abolitionism in the United Kingdom Movement to end slavery in the United Kingdom

Abolitionism in the United Kingdom was the movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to end the practice of slavery, whether formal or informal, in the United Kingdom, the British Empire and the world, including ending the Atlantic slave trade. It was part of a wider abolitionism movement in Western Europe and the Americas.

Contents

Life

Born at Blaiklaw (now named Blakelaw), four miles south of Kelso in Roxburghshire he attended Kelso Grammar School and went on to study at Edinburgh University, where he developed a talent for writing. Injured in an accident in infancy, [1] he did not follow his father into farming, but after attending Kelso grammar school and later Edinburgh University worked as a clerk and continued writing, soon succeeding to editorships of journals and newspapers. In 1816 one of his poems celebrating the countryside near Kelso came to the attention of the novelist Sir Walter Scott, who admired it. A friendship developed between the two and by Scott's influence, whilst facing hard times and unable to earn a living, Pringle secured free passage and a British Government resettlement offer of land in South Africa, to which he emigrated in 1820.This was a scheme to populate the frontier of the Cape with Settlers and provide a buffer against the Africans. He headed a party of Scottish Settlers whose farms were granted in the Baviaans River Valley miles away from the bulk of the 5,000 English Settlers who were granted land in the area of Grahamstown. Being lame, he himself took to literary work in Cape Town rather than farming, opened a school with fellow Scotsman John Fairbairn, and conducted two newspapers, the South African Journal, and South African Commercial Advertiser. However, both papers became suppressed for their free criticisms of the Colonial Government, and his school closed.

Kelso, Scottish Borders town and parish in Scottish Borders, Scotland

Kelso is a market town in the Scottish Borders area of Scotland. Within the boundaries of the historic county of Roxburghshire, it lies where the rivers Tweed and Teviot have their confluence. The town has a population of 5,639 according to the 2011 census and based on the 2010 definition of the locality.

Roxburghshire Historic county in Scotland

Roxburghshire or the County of Roxburgh is a historic county and registration county in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. It borders Dumfriesshire to the west, Selkirkshire to the north-west, and Berwickshire to the north. To the south-west it borders Cumberland and to the south-east Northumberland, both in England.

Edinburgh Capital city in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

Without a livelihood, and with debts, Thomas returned and settled in London. An anti-slavery article which he had written in South Africa before he left was published in the New Monthly Magazine , and brought him to the attention of Buxton, Zachary Macaulay and others, which led to his being appointed Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society. He began working for the Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society in March 1827, and continued for seven years. He offered work to Mary Prince, a former slave, enabling her to write her autobiography describing her experiences under slavery in the West Indies. This book caused a sensation, partly arising from libel actions disputing its accuracy, [2] [3] and went into many editions. He also published African Sketches and books of poems, such as Ephemerides .

Zachary Macaulay abolitionist and governor of Sierra Leone, founder of University of London

Zachary Macaulay was a Scottish statistician, one of the founders of London University and of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, an antislavery activist, and governor of Sierra Leone, the British colony for freed slaves. Like his famous son Thomas Macaulay, he divided the world into civilisation and barbarism with Britain representing the high point of civilisation because of its adherence to Christianity. He worked endlessly to end the slave trade and to Christianize and improve the world.

Anti-Slavery Society everyday name of two different British organisations

The Anti-Slavery Society was the everyday name of two different British organisations.

Mary Prince writer and enslaved woman

Mary Prince was a British abolitionist and autobiographer, born in Bermuda to an enslaved family of African descent. Subsequent to her escape, when she was living in London, England, she wrote her slave narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831), which was the first account of the life of a black woman to be published in the United Kingdom. This first-hand description of the brutalities of enslavement, released at a time when slavery was still legal in Bermuda and British Caribbean colonies, had a galvanising effect on the anti-slavery movement. It was reprinted twice in its first year.

As Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society he helped steer the organisation towards its eventual success; in 1834, with a widening of the electoral franchise, the Reformed British Parliament passed legislation to bring an end to slavery in the British dominions - the aim of Pringle's Society. Pringle signed the Society's notice to set aside 1 August 1834 as a religious thanksgiving for the passing of the Act. However, the legislation did not came into effect until August 1838, and Thomas Pringle was unable to witness this moment; he had died from tuberculosis in December 1834 at the age of 45.

Tuberculosis Infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.

In his memory, Josiah Conder's Biographical Sketch of the Late Thomas Pringle (1835) was published, sold bound together with Thomas Pringle's own Narrative of a Residence in South Africa (1834).

Josiah Conder (editor and author) British writer

Josiah Conder, correspondent of Robert Southey and well-connected to Romantic authors of his day, was editor of the British literary magazine The Eclectic Review, the Nonconformist and abolitionist newspaper The Patriot, the author of romantic verses, poetry, and many popular hymns that survive to this day. His most ambitious non-fiction work was the thirty-volume worldwide geographical tome The Modern Traveller; and his best-selling compilation book The Congregational Hymn Book. Conder was a prominent London Congregationalist, an abolitionist, and took an active part in seeking to repeal British anti-Jewish laws.

His remains were interred in Bunhill Fields, where he was commemorated with a memorial stone bearing an elegant inscription by William Kennedy. In 1970, however, his remains were brought to South Africa, to the church near the farm his family owned in the Baviaans Valley, and re-interred there. [1] [4]

Bunhill Fields cemetery

Bunhill Fields is a former burial ground in central London, in the London Borough of Islington, just north of the City of London boundary. The site is managed as a public garden by the City of London Corporation. It is about 1.6 hectares in extent, although historically it was much larger.

William Kennedy (1799–1871) was a Scottish poet, journalist and writer, known also as a diplomat.

Books

Sources

Notes

  1. 1 2 Finkelstein, David (May 2009) [2004]. "Pringle, Thomas (1789–1834)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/22807.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Pringle v. Cadell, Court of Common Pleas, 21 February 1833. Pringle was awarded damages of £5 against Cadell, the London publisher of Blackwood's Magazine. The November 1831 edition of the magazine contained an article by pro-slavery writer James MacQueen challenging the accuracy of Pringle's account of Prince's experiences. The article suggested Pringle had misrepresented or suppressed facts, and also implied a slur on his female relations. The Times, 22 February 1833, pg. 4
  3. Wood v. Pringle, Court of King's Bench, 27 February 1833. John Adams Wood, Mary Prince's former master, won £25 in damages after producing witnesses to persuade the court that the portrait of his general character given in the book was unfair, and that Prince's accusations had been exaggerated. The Times, 1 March 1833, p. 6
  4. Photo gallery of Pringle's grave http://www.stevebailey.co.za/steves-photo-blog/2011/04/02/the-home-of-thomas-pringle/

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