James Field Stanfield (1749-1824) was the first ordinary seaman involved in the slave trade to write about its horrors. He became a supporter of the campaign to abolish the slave trade after his experience on a slave ship which he described as "a floating dungeon".
In 1788 Stanfield wrote Observations on a Guinea Voyage, vividly describing his experiences on the voyage from Liverpool to Benin in West Africa. It was published as a series of letters addressed to Stanfield's friend and a leading anti-slavery campaigner, the Reverend Thomas Clarkson. Clarkson added this to the evidence collected for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, of which he was a founding member.
James Field Stanfield enjoyed a colourful career. After his experiences at sea, he became an actor and joined the Scarborough-Sunderland theatre circuit in 1789 and set up his own theatre company in 1799. Between 1793 and 1796 he temporarily gave up acting and became a brandy merchant in Sunderland, where he spent the next twenty years. His son, Clarkson Stanfield, was born in Sunderland and became a famous painter. Clarkson was named after the famous abolitionist Thomas Clarkson.