Selena Spurgin, 1842

Nothing is known of Selina Spurgin, but that would not be the case or William Knibb (1803-1845), although the reference to South Africa as pertaining to Knibb is not clearr. Knibb was originally from Kettering, Knibb, and along with his older brother, Thomas, moved to Bristol in 1816 to work with J. G. Fuller (Andrew Fuller’s son). The Knibb brothers joined the church at Broadmead and became Sunday school teachers. William was baptized there in 1822. Shortly thereafter, Thomas Knibb became a BMS missionary in Jamaica, but he died within a few months of his arrival. William promptly volunteered to take his place, sailing with his wife, Mary, for Jamaica in 1825. He first ministered at Savanna-la-Mar, then at Falmouth, from which the majority of his anti-slavery activities were conducted. Though discouraged by the BMS in London, Knibb was openly vocal in his opposition to slavery, and undoubtedly his activities were instrumental in provoking the Jamaica slave revolt of 1831-1832. Many of his followers were persecuted and imprisoned as a result of the uprising. After being held prisoner by the government, Knibb was released in February 1832, his chapels having suffered considerable damage. The criminal cases at Montego Bay against Knibb and his coworkers Thomas Burchell, Thomas Abbott, Walter Dendy, and Francis Gardner were eventually dropped. Knibb returned to England and, along with Burchell and James Phillippo, spoke in churches and meetings across England, advocating the end of the persecution of the missionaries and slavery in Jamaica. His efforts led to the abolition of slavery throughout the British Commonwealth in 1834.

Selina Spurgin, Stratford St. Mary’s, Suffolk, to Joseph Angus, Baptist Mission House, Fen Court, Fenchurch Street, London, 11 October 1842.


With feelings of pleasure I have to inform you by the aid of a servt of the Langham friends I have been able to get up a Box of useful, as well as fancy articles, which I intend for Mr Knibb for South Africa.

I have made up many things I consider suitable for some of the Missionaries Wives, Children, and native teachers—which I hope will prove acceptable to our worthy & ever esteemed friend.

I shall feel much obliged by your informing me when you would like me to send up the Jubilee box and where to have it left, as I think of asking some friend to take charge of it to London who may be going up without any luggage In this case I would inform you by post the day it would be there—and then it would go free of all expense.

Waiting Your reply

I remain dear Sir

Yours very respectfully

Selina Spurgin

Stratford St Mary’s


October 11th

Text: Methodist Archives, MAW, Box 39 (BMS 1621), John Rylands University Library of Manchester; Timothy Whelan, ed., Baptist Autographs in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 1741-1845 (Macon: Baptist History Series, Mercer University Press, 2009, p. 257.