S. Paul's Deptford opposes all forms of slavery and oppression
S. Paul's Deptford opposes all forms of slavery and oppression.
The entire British establishment and all its institutions, including the Church of England, have serious questions to face up to in respect of slavery, imperialism, and colonialism.
Here at S. Paul's, Deptford, we oppose all forms of slavery, historic and modern, and we repent of all historic connections to slavery.
We believe that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ commits us to struggle against all forms of racism and fascism, imperialism, exploitation, and to work in solidarity with all people of goodwill to build a world of justice, peace and equality.
A note regarding the history of S. Paul's church
S. Paul's church was built under the power of certain Acts, passed in the ninth and tenth years of Queen Anne, for the building fifty new churches in and near London by the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, an organisation set up by an Act of in 1711, following the New Churches in London and Westminster Act 1710.
The Commission was funded by a duty on coal coming into London. This tax was originally levied in 1670 to pay for the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral, and City churches destroyed in the Great Fire of London. When the Commission was set up the duty was assigned to it. In 1718 the duty became part of general government revenues but was still used to fund the Commissioners' work.
By an Act of Parliament, passed in 1730, the sum of £3500, (out of the duty on coals) was allotted for the maintenance of the rector of the new church at Deptford, (afterwards dedicated to S. Paul,) to be laid out in the purchase of lands or other hereditaments in fee-simple.
Deptford was a slaving town for the first 100 and more years of the history of S. Paul’s, Deptford, and inevitably, the church was not untouched by these terrible historic realities.
There is a memorial to Mydiddee, buried in the churchyard at the front of the grass at the west end, south side.
Mydiddee had travelled from the South Pacific with Captain Bligh, most famous for being subjected to mutiny on the Bounty, his previous ship. Less well-known is that the purpose of Bligh's journey was to obtain breadfruit plants, with the idea that they could be grown in the Caribbean to feed slaves cheaply. At the time, the islands could not produce sufficient food for their inhabitants, and it had to be exported expensively from North America - particularly difficult now the American War of Independence was underway. Bligh returned from the second breadfruit expedition on HMS Providence with the plants, and with Mydiddee.
The Inscription reads:
"Mydiddee, A native of Tahiti. Sailed to England with Captain William Bligh in HMS Providence. Died in Deptford, 4th September 1793. Stranger with solemn step approach and know, A fav'rite son of nature sleeps below.From that fam'd queen of southern isles he came, fair Otahytey, fir'd by British fame: And Providence each deep safe wafted o'er, Yet only gave to hail the promis'd shore; For here could life alas! no more supply, Than just to look around him and to die. Edward Harwood, surgeon of the Providence."