Today sitting on my desk is a small single sheet we bought recently – a broadside handbill or flyer which advertises a sermon preached at the Episcopal Chapel, Glasgow, in 1814, by the Rev. Isaac Saunders on behalf of the Missionary Society for Africa and the East. This was an English society, whose vice-presidents included William Wilberforce, and Saunders was a minister in London – these were the days when a visiting preacher was a crowd-pulling attraction. He would preach three sermons on Sunday August 14th, almost exactly 196 years ago.
The flyer lists the Society’s activities around the world from Malta to New Zealand, but one of the most interesting to me was the offer to sponsor a child. Today everyone is familiar with the flyers which fall out of magazines asking people to sponsor a child in a developing country for a small sum of money every month. This flyer offers the same opportunity to 19th-century Glaswegians, but under rather different conditions:
‘The Society clothes, maintains, and educates a poor African child for £5 per annum, and affixes any name to such poor liberated child, as the benefactor may wish.’
Of course, we have to set a document like this in the context of its time – and the Library offers plenty of resources for people wanting to investigate the relationship between Scotland and Africa during this period, such as our holdings on slavery and abolition and mission collections.