The British campaign to abolish the slave trade is generally considered to have begun in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers ' antislavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783.   The same year, Wilberforce, while dining with his old Cambridge friend Gerard Edwards,  met Rev. James Ramsay , a ship's surgeon who had become a clergyman on the island of St Christopher (later St Kitts ) in the Leeward Islands , and a medical supervisor of the plantations there. What Ramsay had witnessed of the conditions endured by the slaves, both at sea and on the plantations, horrified him. Returning to England after fifteen years, he accepted the living of Teston, Kent in 1781, and there met Sir Charles Middleton , Lady Middleton, Thomas Clarkson , Hannah More and others, a group that later became known as the Testonites .  Interested in promoting Christianity and moral improvement in Britain and overseas, they were appalled by Ramsay's reports of the depraved lifestyles of slave owners, the cruel treatment meted out to the enslaved, and the lack of Christian instruction provided to the slaves.  With their encouragement and help, Ramsay spent three years writing An essay on the treatment and conversion of African slaves in the British sugar colonies , which was highly critical of slavery in the West Indies. The book, published in 1784, was to have an important impact in raising public awareness and interest, and it excited the ire of West Indian planters who in the coming years attacked both Ramsay and his ideas in a series of proslavery tracts.