At each stop on the walk there will be a story and an activity. Worksheets for children to use during the walk need to be downloaded and printed off at school and brought with you.
Story Three: Peter Peckard (1718–1797)
Peter Peckard was born nearly 300 years ago. He was a priest and a preacher. He was a very important man, because he was master of Magdalene College and Vice-chancellor of Cambridge University. One of his jobs as Vice-chancellor was to preach sermons here in this church. Imagine that there was a huge three-decker pulpit right in the middle here. He would stand, towering over everyone, with university students, lecturers and important visitors below him in the congregation. He could talk to them about anything he liked!
He heard a story that shocked him so much that he preached sermons about it. It was the story about what happened on a slave ship called The Zong when it was crossing the Atlantic Ocean. There was a lot of disease, and many slaves were dying. The captain of the ship knew that dead slaves were worth nothing. So, he took 133 sick slaves, still in chains, and threw them into the sea.
The Captain said he had to do that because the ship was running out of water, but that was a lie. He just wanted to claim some money from the insurance company.
Olaudah Equiano was one of the first people to hear this terrible story, and he spread the news. Peter Peckard was so upset that slaves could be treated this way that he started preaching about it right here in this church. He said people should not be treated as a piece of property. He was one of the earliest campaigners against slavery, and he also started writing pamphlets and books about it. But he didn’t just talk and write – he actually did things. He helped Olaudah Equiano to travel around England and sell his book. Peter was the person who set the title in the writing competition that Thomas Clarkson entered, and helped to change Clarkson’s life. Thomas Clarkson came here to this church to listen to Peter Peckard preaching. Peter helped to inspire many people. One of the works he published was called “Am I not a man and a brother?” He said that we are all brothers in Christ, so how can we make our fellow human beings our slaves?
Another of the anti-slave campaigners was Josiah Wedgewood, who owned a pottery business. Josiah was very rich, and he paid one of his workers to design a logo against slavery, using Peckard’s title.
This logo was stamped on letters and leaflets, but also used on badges, brooches, and even on plates and teapots. Lots of people couldn’t vote, especially women, so they didn’t have any say in how the country was run. But they could still show they were against slavery and spread the word by using and wearing these things.
Peter Peckard had a wife called Martha. Martha supported the campaign against slavery, and she would have worn a brooch like this. She was also the person who paid for Anna Maria Vassa’s memorial, and probably wrote a poem about her. Peter made speeches in the pulpit, and Martha must have talked about slavery to her guests whilst pouring tea from an anti-slavery tea set.
Activity Three: Anti-slavery Sermon
Slavery isn’t just something that happened in the past. It happens in the world today, and children are often the victims. Child slaves are forced to make some of the clothes we can buy in our country, and even the footballs for children to play with in the playground.
In groups of five. the children will be asked to discuss the cards given to them and put them in order of importance. The cards give them a set of arguments Peter Peckard used when he preached his sermons against slavery. Children will be invited to choose one of their group to come up into the pulpit to preach and say which argument you thought was most important.
Slavery is a vile traffick. It is radically, absolutely and essentially evil; loaded with all possible malignity and totally destitute of any real good.
I firmly believe that so far our kind Creator has, by the very frame and constitution of our nature, shown to men what is Good.
Slaves are torn from their country and their friends by the violence of hard-hearted ruffians, then doomed to chains and excruciating misery.
Let us look with an eye of pity on those who are fast bound in misery and iron … let us break their bonds assunder and cast away their cords from us.
To those who join the great work of Justice and Mercy, may heaven prosper and reward their labours.
Is allowing slavery our Gospel of Peace and Liberty? I pray that all the world agree with me in receiving with horror the very idea of slavery and inhumanity.
“It is God who hath made us, and not we ourselves: we are his people and the sheep of his pasture”. Nor can we, without guilt, alienate this property from God, or transfer it from him to man.