The UK Parliamentary Archives web site at www.parliament.uk/slavetrade has seen a flurry of activity since it went live, March 19, 2007. The site features a digitised, transcribed version of the petition from Manchester 1806 which is the biggest surviving parliamentary anti slave trade petition. Already individuals are finding names believed to be ancestors. David Prior of the Parliamentary Archives said: "I am bowled over by the feedback we are receiving from people who have recognised names on the petition. Anyone whose ancestor signed the petition will have a unique insight into that person's opinion on this issue at that time."
The 1807 Act of Parliament to abolish the British Slave Trade was the culmination of one of the first, and most successful public campaigns in history. The petition supported the Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill of 1806 and was signed by inhabitants of Manchester. It was laid before the House of Lords on 14 May 1806. Also available online is part of the 1807 Act itself and a much smaller pro slave trade petition. These documents along with others will feature in a comprehensive web site being launched by the Parliamentary Archives in May. Both the Manchester abolition petition and the 1807 Act will be key exhibits in The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament and People exhibition in Westminster Hall from 23 May to 23 September 2007. It will be open to the public, free of charge. For further information please contact Ruth Cobb, at 24 Hour Museum.