On 25th March 1807 the slave trade was abolished in Britain and the British Empire. This was the result of over fifty years of legislation regulating the practice, and a further twenty years of sustained campaigning, lobbying and protesting. Concern about the slave trade and the treatment of African people started to become a social issue in Britain in the 1770s,. Many different people spoke out, including politicians, religious groups, journalists, former slaves, and artisans.
The British Abolitionist Movement was a true grass-roots campaign, and soon politicians and legislators could not ignore the widespread desire for an end to slavery. Lancaster, however, was one of the few towns to send a pro-slavery petition. The Abolition Movement did not greatly impact the town as the slave trade had already begun to dwindle.
In 1799 an Act of Parliament regulating the trade decreed slaving ships could only sail from Liverpool, London and Bristol. Accordingly Lancaster's merchants had returned to trading other products and goods. The few Lancaster investments in the slave trade continued from Liverpool. As a result, Lancaster's historical role in the slave trade has long been overlooked.