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8 - Colonial Sins and Priscilla Buxton’s Quest for Virtue

from Part III - Britain, the Cape Colony, West Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2022

Elizabeth Elbourne
Affiliation:
McGill University, Montréal
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Summary

By the 1830s, a number of British humanitarians saw empire as a solution to problems. The final section of this book focuses on the Buxtons, a powerful British gentry family whose members turned from the abolition of slavery to the defence of Indigenous peoples in the British settler empire in the late 1830s. This first chapter of two discusses Priscilla Buxton, daughter of leading abolitionist MP Thomas Fowell Buxton and his close collaborator, who sat at the centre of an empire-wide information gathering network. She spent much of her life on international political causes in response to her deep sense of Christian duty even as she also ultimately supported an expedition that would have begun the colonization of what is today Nigeria. The chapter analyses the evidence that Buxton accumulated about police and settler killings on the Eastern Cape frontier and shows how a political case was made, relayed in part through kinship networks. The study also follows the fate of key stories, notably evidence for the killing of Xhosa chief Sigcau and seven of his men by settlers on commando, once they entered the discursive space of a commission of inquiry and were attacked by the supporters of the colonial administration.

Type
Chapter
Information
Empire, Kinship and Violence
Family Histories, Indigenous Rights and the Making of Settler Colonialism, 1770-1842
, pp. 307 - 347
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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