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Jeffrey Green

served the British military in the American War of Independence, during which he led guerrilla raids on American troops around New Jersey. He then took a leading role in the settlement of black Empire Loyalists in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1783. Some suggest he had been a slave in Virginia, but his literacy, along with comments of contemporaries, strongly suggest he was from Barbados. He married a free and financially stable New Yorker named Margaret, and ran a school in Birchtown, Nova Scotia (in the very south of the province), where about 1,500 former slaves lived. When the future British king William IV (then a Royal Navy officer stationed in Halifax) visited Birchtown in 1788, he was entertained by Blucke, who was the most successful of the settlers.

About six hundred people from Birchtown joined the black exodus to Sierra Leone, West Africa, in 1792 reviving a ...

Article

Jane Poyner

British colonel turned revolutionary, and African‐Caribbean wife (also described as African‐American in origin). In 1790, when Colonel Despard arrived in London after nearly twenty years of British military service in the Caribbean, he brought with him his wife, Catherine, and their young son James. Catherine's background remains unclear: by some accounts she was the daughter of a Jamaican preacher, by others an educated Spanish Creole. The couple had married some time between 1786 and 1789, while Edward was Superintendent of the newly created British enclave of Belize. The Despards' mixed‐race marriage was perhaps the only such example in Britain at the time.

In London the Despards, turning their backs on respectable society, threw themselves into radical politics, Catherine focusing her energies on abolitionism and prisoners' rights. Edward's political views fell under government suspicion and Catherine took an increasingly public role in defending him against charges of ...

Article

John Davidson

James Africanus Horton was a pioneer African nationalist. Largely forgotten for eighty years after his death, interest in him revived during West Africa’s advance to independence. His major works, West African Countries and Peoples (1868) and Letters on the Political Condition of the Gold Coast (1870), were republished in 1969 and 1970, respectively. Horton exemplified the contribution of the Krio elite of Sierra Leone to the development of West Africa in the mid-nineteenth century. He rejected the argument that Africans were inherently biologically inferior. He argued for extended provision of education, for the building of railways, and for economic development generally. He hoped that the British colonies would expand, with a provision for African self-government and a major role for Western-educated Africans.

Horton was born in Gloucester, Sierra Leone, in 1835 His parents were Igbo recaptives from Eastern Nigeria who were rescued from a ...

Article

David Killingray

West African medical doctor, army officer, and political writer born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the son of a liberated slave. He went to school and studied at Fourah Bay Institute with a view to entering the Christian ministry. However, along with two other men, he was selected in 1853 to study medicine in Britain with a view to returning to West Africa as an army medical officer. Horton studied first at King's College London and graduated from Edinburgh in 1859. He was very conscious that he was an African and adopted the name ‘Africanus’. Commissioned into the Army, he returned to West Africa, where he spent twenty years practising as a military doctor and occasionally serving as an administrator. He retired as a lieutenant‐colonel in 1880 Early in his career many of his white fellow doctors resented his role and they persuaded the War Office not to appoint ...

Article

Nazneen Ahmed

First Baron Barham, British naval administrator, and politician active in the campaign to abolish slavery. Middleton entered the Royal Navy in 1741, passing his lieutenant's examination in 1745. He was appointed to the illustrious position of Comptroller of the Navy in 1778, despite a lack of experience of naval administration. He proved to be adept at his role, creating numerous structural and administrative reforms to increase the efficiency of the Navy, for example, the introduction of lemon juice into navy victuals to prevent scurvy, and the introduction of the carronade cannon. His attention to strategic details at ship level contributed significantly to the victory at Trafalgar. His achievements as naval Comptroller were publicly recognized when he was created a baronet in 1781. Middleton and his wife held profoundly evangelical Anglican beliefs. During the 1780s, and through the influence of the clergyman James Ramsay a former ...

Article

John Gilmore

Clergyman of the Church of England and critic of Caribbean slavery born in Scotland. Originally trained as a surgeon, he spent six years in the Royal Navy in that capacity. On one occasion during this period he visited a slave ship where there was an epidemic on board in order to provide treatment to the victims. Ramsay eventually decided to leave the Navy because of an accident that had left him lame. In 1762 he was ordained by the Bishop of London, and returned to the Caribbean island of St Kitts (St Christopher), which he had previously visited while in the Navy. He spent most of the next nineteen years in St Kitts, as rector of two parishes there, and married the daughter of a local planter.

Ramsay s attempts to preach Christianity to the slaves and his involvement in local political issues made him unpopular with his white parishioners ...

Article

Ari Nave

Born in Bideford, Devon, England, John Hanning Speke began serving in the British Indian Army at age seventeen. After serving in Punjab, he explored the Himalayas and then took a leave from the army to hunt in Africa.

In 1855 Speke accompanied explorer Richard Burton to Somaliland (present-day Somalia). When their party was attacked by Somalis, Burton was wounded and Speke was captured and stabbed eleven times, bringing the expedition to an abrupt end. In 1856 the two men met again in Zanzibar and headed for the Great Lakes region of East Africa, determined to find the source of the Nile River.

By the time they reached Lake Tanganyika in February 1858 Burton was too ill to continue so Speke although also sick went on alone He arrived in July on the shores of Ukerewe a vast body of water that he renamed Lake Victoria When local inhabitants told ...