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William Smeal

Burrell Collection Photo Library

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William Smeal

William Smeal, Secretary of the Glasgow Anti-Slavery Society, 1865. It appears from the photograph that Smeal had a severely disfigured or false nose.

Smeal was a Gallowgate tea merchant and Quaker who founded the Glasgow Anti-Slavery Society in 1822. The Glasgow group was one of the most active in Britain. Smeal was involved in anti-slavery organisations such as the Glasgow Emancipation Society and the Glasgow Freedmen's Aid Society from the 1830s until his death in the 1870s. The William Smeal Collection in the Mitchell Library contains manuscripts and printed material relating to the anti-slavery movement in Britain during his lifetime.

Jane, Smeal's daughter, was one of the leading figures in the women's anti-slavery movement and established the Glasgow Ladies Emancipation Society in the 1830s. Jane found that her cause did not appeal to the well-off women of the city who were the mainstay of most charitable groups and wrote "... neither the noble, the rich, nor the learned are to be found advocating our cause. Our subscribers and most efficient members are all in the middling and working classes but they have great zeal and labour very harmoniously together".

Reference: 960.77.521

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums

anti-slavery movement, false noses, Glasgow Anti-Slavery Society, Glasgow Emancipation Society, Glasgow Freedmen's Aid Society, Glasgow Ladies Emancipation Society, Mitchell Library, Quakers, slavery, Society of Friends, tea dealers, tea merchants, women

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