John Ivatt Briscoe

MP (Whig-Liberal)

Elections / Constituences

Surrey Surrey
1830 - 1832 
Surrey Eastern Surrey
1832 - 1835 
Westbury Wiltshire
1837 - 1841 
Surrey Western Surrey
1857 - 1870 

Parliamentary Notes

West India Colonies - Slavery House of Commons 13/12/1830

Mr. Briscoe was convinced that the general question of Slave Emancipation must very soon be forced on the attention of his Majesty's Ministers, and it was desirable that such a question should be settled, not only by a vote of that House, but with the consent of the West-India proprietors, and under the sanction of his Majesty's Government. The petitions which he had seen against slavery rested their claims on the highest 'vantage ground; they designated slavery as a crime disgraceful to man, and they dwelt on the moral and mental degradation of the slave. These petitions had likewise additional weight by having affixed to them the signatures of clergymen of all denominations, who held that it was revolting to Christianity that it should be argued that slaves, were private property, and therefore must not be meddled with. He had looked at the subject with much patient attention, and he was convinced that the time was come when the Parliament must take the matter in hand, and decide that the slave should be set free.

Colonial Slavery House of Commons 23/11/1830

Mr. Briscoe, although he admitted that he was not a statesman, felt competent to decide in the abstract, that slavery was a crime, and a foul stain on the character and honour of Great Britain. He had little expected, when he took his seat in the House of Commons, that he should see the day when such an assertion was made, as that the condition of the slave in the West Indies was preferable to that of the English peasant. He challenged the hon. Gentleman who made that statement to submit the proposal to the most wretched and hopeless of the peasantry, and to be governed by the answer he should receive. As to the rights of the West-India proprietors, he was ready to give compensation whenever a case of loss could be established.

This immediately followed the remarks of Mr Bernal [MP for Rochester, Kent] that 'His being a West Indian land-owner himself should never deter him from speaking his sentiments on the subject, though he had never, and he never would countenance abuses of any kind. Affected religion and bastard morality had been called in to aid the cause of the antagonists of slavery, and to destroy the sacred and recognised rights of property in the West-Indies. He only wished to add, that the West-India interests, tired of having the question so long hanging over their heads, were now anxious that it should be brought forward in some shape or other. All they asked was an honest, impartial, and liberal inquiry into the actual condition of the slaves and of the colonies.' (co. 651)