Piety and profit in 19th-century Preston

UClan Arts Centre
St Peter’s Church, now serving as the UCLan Arts Centre. © Copyright Galatas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

When Sir James Allan Park, the recorder of Preston, laid the foundation stone of St Peter’s Church (now the University of Central Lancashire Arts Centre) on a summer’s day in 1822 on land donated by his son, also named James Allan, he can hardly have expected the ceremony to have sparked an angry article in the Manchester Guardian in which he was accused of ‘unparalleled humbug’ and his son of property speculation.

The charges may have been politically motivated. If, however, the Parks and their relatives had instead been accused of profiting from West Indian slaveholding, they would probably have not seen it as a charge worthy of noticing. For the thing that shocks today is that they and their contemporaries would have felt perfectly justified in owning slaves on the sugar plantations, and would have happily accepted the generous compensation they received when those slaves were freed in 1833.

Piety and profit in 19th-century Preston

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