John Woolman was a famous Quaker in the 18th Century. He lived in New Jersey and was a strong abolitionist. In 1772 Woolman sailed to Britain to speak out against slavery. Instead of taking a passenger’s cabin, he showed his egalitarian spirit by lodging with the crew. When he arrived in London, the Quakers were rather taken aback by his shabby clothing, but when he spoke condemning the injustice of slavery, he was accepted.
To spread the word, he set off to travel north to York but declined to travel by stagecoach because he felt it was cruel to drive the horses so hard. Instead, he walked, preaching against slavery en route. Sadly, he picked up smallpox along the way and died just after reaching York. He is commemorated by the establishment of John Woolman House. This is a Quaker residential home for older people, close to New Walk. The doors facing New Walk are painted in bright colours.