Nero, David Victor Adolphus ( Gustavus Fraser )
- Jeffrey Green
charlatan from British Guiana who tricked and cheated numerous people in Britain in 1886. Nero can be listed among several con artists of African descent who attempted frauds in Victorian Britain, including posing as fugitive American slaves, colleagues of explorer David Livingstone, inheritors of wealth and rank in Africa, and collecting funds for black charities in Africa, the United States, and Canada. Details of these activities have been gleaned from newspaper reports, and one must assume the most successful charlatans were never arrested. Indeed, there were so many bogus claimants that their activities eroded the trust of potential patrons, and British abolitionists often needed the testimony of American antislavery campaigners in order to prove their legitimacy.
This sort of phenomenon has a long history, with English servant girl Mary Willcocks claiming to be the princess of Javasu in the 1820s. In a famous 1910 incident the author Virginia ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography.