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David Dabydeen

Africanslave who arrived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. Details of Asa‐Asa's birth and death are unknown. He was captured from his home in Bycla, near Egie, West Africa, and was eventually placed aboard a French vessel called The Pearl. Owing to severe weather conditions, the ship landed in the port of St Ives, Cornwall. Subsequently, Asa‐Asa and four other shipmates were taken to London. While in England, he wrote the ‘Narrative of Louis Asa‐Asa, a Captured African’ (1831 which details his family background the invasion of the Adinyes or the African slave traders who set fire to his village as they sought to kill torture or capture its inhabitants and his experiences on the ships that eventually led him to England Prior to his arrival he was taken to various places and sold numerous times After six months of journeying ...

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John Gilmore

Domestic servant to Samuel Johnson. He was born a slave in Jamaica, but his date of birth and original name are unknown. He was brought to England by Richard Bathurst, formerly a planter in Jamaica, who had him baptized and who gave him the name by which he is known. Bathurst sent him for some time to a school at Barton in Teesdale in Yorkshire, and his will (dated 1754) left Barber his freedom and £12.

By this date, probably in 1752, Barber had entered the service of Samuel Johnson, who was a friend of Bathurst's son (also Richard). The exact date, and how old Barber was at the time, are uncertain, but he was probably still a young boy. In 1756 he ran away and worked for about two years for a London apothecary though he returned to visit Johnson regularly during ...

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Philip Herbert

Alias of Thomas Wiggins (1849–1908), famous slave pianist, described by Mark Twain as a musical prodigy. He was born in May 1849 in Columbus, Georgia, being blind, and in today's terms an ‘autistic savant’. The renowned lawyer James N. Bethune bought Wiggins's parents as slaves. Recognizing that Wiggins was a musical genius capable of imitating noises, improvising, and composing at 6, Bethune's daughter Mary taught him to play the piano.

In 1857 Bethune paraded Wiggins's talent across Georgia, meeting rapturous responses. Consequently, Bethune had tours organized by Perry Oliver (concert promoter) earning them $100,000 a year. Wiggins would play European classical music, improvisations, popular ballads, and his own compositions, examples of the last being ‘The Rainstorm’ (1865) and ‘Cyclone Gallop’ (1887).

The Bethune family forced him to tour the South performing to raise funds during the Civil War for the confederacy and its army ...

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Jane Poyner

Orphan from Dahomey (now Benin) reputed to be of royal lineage, who was brought as a slave to England, where she became Queen Victoria's protégée. Sarah was named, ignominiously, after the ship Bonetta on which she was transported to England. Ironically, she was given to Captain Frederick Forbes by King Gezo of Dahomey in a conciliatory gesture following Forbes's unsuccessful attempt to persuade the King to give up trading in slaves. Forbes, in his account of his travels Dahomey and the Dahomens (1851), used Sarah as an example of the potential for progress in the intellect of the African at a time when pseudo‐scientific enlightenment theories of race were rampant: as Forbes noted, ‘it being generally and erroneously supposed that after a certain age the intellect [of the African] becomes impaired and the pursuit of knowledge impossible’.

Sarah was presented to Queen Victoria and thereafter raised under her ...

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Jeremy Rich

Atlantic slave-trade survivor presented as a gift to Britain's Queen Victoria, was born in the early 1840s in or near the southern Beninese town of Okeadon. Her birth name is not known, but her marriage certificate would list her name as Ina Sarah Forbes Bonetta, perhaps indicating that her original name was Ina. Southern Beninese states had fought for years against the inland kingdom of Dahomey for autonomy, as the slave-trading empire sought to force its southern neighbors to pay tribute and accept Dahomean control over the slaves that were often sold to European and South American merchants. In 1846 Dahomean soldiers seized her and killed her parents during the Okeadon War between Dahomey and its enemies in the Yoruba city of Abeokuta after a traitor had allowed Dahomean troops entry to the town Bonetta was fortunate she did not join the 600 or so town residents ...

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Ana Raquel Fernandes

Prominent 19th‐century African‐American abolitionist who escaped to England. Brown was born into slavery on a plantation in Richmond, Virginia. After having been forcibly separated from his wife and children, Brown and a white friend, Samuel A. Smith, conceived an ingenious plan for his escape from slavery. In March 1848 Brown hid in a wooden crate supposedly containing dry goods, and had himself shipped via the Adams Express Company to William H. Johnson, an abolitionist sympathizer. Having arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a free state, Brown claimed his freedom and thereafter took the name ‘Box’ as his own. With the help of anti‐slavery friends, he became an abolitionist lecturer and author. In 1849Charles Stearns wrote and published ‘Box’ Brown's narrative of his daring escape. A year later, however, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 fearing possible capture and return to slavery Brown fled instead ...

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David Dabydeen

African‐Americanabolitionist and fugitive slave who toured Britain. Brown was born on a plantation in Kentucky, the son of a slave woman and a white man. After 20 years of enslavement, he escaped on New Year's Day 1834. His personal experience of slavery compelled an active fight against the system in the United States, which eventually led to his journey to Europe. In August 1849 he travelled to Paris as the American Peace Society s delegate to the International Peace Congress Subsequently Brown began a lecture tour of Britain enjoying the relative freedom which he lacked in the racially tense United States Using England as his base he ventured to the rest of Europe speaking passionately about the cruelties of slavery In London he chaired a meeting of fugitive American slaves and drafted for the meeting an Appeal to the People of Great Britain and the World His ...

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Charles Rosenberg

also known as Tallen and John Bull, was enslaved in Africa, shipped to America, freed by the interception of a British vessel, made prisoner of war while serving in the British navy, then tricked into slavery in Savannah, Georgia; he earned and purchased his freedom three times over, being defrauded the first two times.

From accounts he gave later in life, it is believed he was born among the Kissi, a people ethnologically related to the Malinke, in what is now Guinea, on a tributary of the Niandan River. His given name was Tallen. Captured in a local war at age 12, and brought to the coast for sale as a slave, he was being transported across the Atlantic when the ship carrying him was intercepted by a British vessel, probably in 1811. The exact circumstances remain a matter of controversy. By his own account, recorded in 1857 ...

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Christopher Campbell

Reluctant early 17th‐century Khoikhoi immigrant to Britain, tragically manipulated by the East India Company. Coree was taken from the area around the Cape of Good Hope (then known as Saldania) in southern Africa, and unwillingly brought to Britain. He and a companion both suffered the misfortune of being captured after boarding Gabriel Towerson's East India Company ship Hector, but of the two, only Coree survived the voyage. The cause of his fellow captive's death was recorded, unconvincingly, as being due to ‘extreme sullenness’. On his arrival in Britain, Coree was placed in the household of a merchant and then governor of the East India Company, Sir Thomas Smith. It was hoped that Coree would provide the company with useful information about his homeland and, as a result, he was relatively well treated with accommodation, food, fine vestments, and even a suit of armour. However, according to Peter Fryer ...

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Enslaved husband and wife abolitionists whose self‐liberation from slavery in Georgia to freedom in England represents one of the most daring escapes from American enslavement. In 1848 light‐skinned Ellen conceived a plan to escape by cutting her hair, donning male clothing, and ‘passing’ as a southern white male slaveholder travelling to the North for medical treatment, while her darker‐skinned husband William posed as a faithful slave valet. After a dangerous journey through the South, the couple reached Boston, where their story of escape made them causes célèbres in abolitionists circles. With the fugitive slave William Wells Brown, the Crafts gave a series of anti‐slavery lectures throughout New England. Their freedom was threatened, however, by the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, which provided for the return of fugitive slaves to their masters in the South, and also mandated the assistance of northerners in the fugitives' capture. In November ...

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Jane Poyner

Boxer and ex‐slave from Tennessee, United States, who made a number of trips to England to fight. Dobbs was born into slavery in Knoxville, Tennessee, and picked cotton until he was 15. A slight man, standing 5 feet 8½ inches and weighing just 9 stone 9 pounds, he trained as a lightweight and welterweight. During his illustrious career he fought over 1,000 matches, not retiring until he was 60. In 1898 he made his first trip to England, where, in an infamous fight with Dick Burge he was offered a bribe by a bookmaker of £100 a huge sum in those days to lose the fight He agreed to the deal and was provided with laxatives before the match but switched with a friend who bore some resemblance to him and who was willing to take the medication Dobbs won the match On the same trip he knocked out ...

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David Dabydeen

African‐American leader of the abolitionist movement in the United States who toured and lectured in the British Isles. Douglass was born a slave in February 1818 on Holmes Hill Farm on Maryland's eastern shore in the United States. All his life, Douglass was renowned for his oratory skills. He travelled to Great Britain in 1845 because the widespread publicity of his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, meant that his former owner in America would be able to track him down and reclaim his ‘property’. His friends thus encouraged him to go on tour in Britain. He set sail on the Cambria for Liverpool on 16 August 1845 and arrived in Ireland where he lectured to crowds who were spellbound by his rhetoric Douglass was known to have verbal stamina and could speak for up to three hours at a time His ...

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Jane Poyner

Freed Black slave from British Guiana (now Guyana) who taught the evolutionist Charles Darwin taxidermy. Edmonstone was taken to Glasgow by his slave owner, Charles Edmonstone, probably in 1817. He was taught taxidermy by the explorer, naturalist, and conservationist Charles Waterton, who had travelled extensively in South and North America. Edmonstone moved to Edinburgh in 1823, where he still resided in 1833. He was hired by Darwin, author of The Origin of Species (1859), to teach him taxidermy while Darwin was studying medicine at Edinburgh University. From 1824 to 1825 Edmonstone lived at 37 Lothian Street in close proximity to the university and to Darwin s residence Darwin was an outspoken critic of slavery and had long conversations with Edmonstone about the latter s experiences as a slave and his life in British Guiana These conversations probably helped to shape Darwin s ...

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Philip Herbert

Violinist and composer, celebrated and admired as a remarkable musician in Cornish society after his humble beginnings as a slave. Emidy, was born in Guinea, West Africa, sold into slavery in 1787 by Portuguese traders, and then taken to Brazil. He came to Lisbon with his new owner, who recognized his interest in music and provided him with a violin and a tutor. He progressed musically, and by 1795 was a second violinist in the orchestra of the Opera House in Lisbon.

However, in 1795, when Sir Edward Pellow brought his ship the Indefatigable into the river Tagus in Lisbon for repairs, he and other officers attended the Lisbon opera. After seeing Emidy perform in the orchestra, they kidnapped him, forcing him to come aboard their ship as their fiddler to perform dances (which he loathed) to entertain the sailors and raise their morale as they sailed.

After ...

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Vincent Carretta

The most important and one of the most widely published authors of African descent in the English‐speaking world of the 18th century. Equiano helped to found the genre of the slave narrative when he published The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African: Written by Himself in London in March 1789. The Interesting Narrative is a spiritual autobiography, captivity narrative, travel book, adventure tale, slavery narrative, economic treatise, apologia, and argument against the transatlantic slave trade and slavery. From its first appearance the Interesting Narrative has also been recognized as the classic description of an African society before contact with Europeans, as well as of the forced transatlantic transportation of enslaved Africans known since the 18th century as the Middle Passage.

By his own account, Equiano was born in 1745 in Eboe in the kingdom of Benin in what is now south ...

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Lucy MacKeith

Coachman painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. His portrait hangs in the home of Sir John Quicke just outside Newton St Cyres near Exeter, Devon. The oil painting on board shows a smiling African wearing a greeny‐brown velvet jacket, a white cravat, and a black trimmed hat with gold braid over a conventional wig of that time. The handwritten paper label on the back of the portrait reads: ‘Joe Green, Black Coachman for many years to Mrs Quicke. Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds’.

Records on the Quickes are scarce. In 1739 Mrs Quicke inherited £40,000 from her father, Thomas Coster, a merchant in Bristol with interests in the slave trade who was a mayor of that city and an MP. John Quicke was Jane's second husband and we know that she lived in Bath as a widow.

As to Joe Green searches so far have not revealed any records ...

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Lucy MacKeith

African‐American singer celebrated in Great Britain. She was born in Natchez, Missouri, as a slave, and taken to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a child by her mistress, Mrs Greenfield. When Mrs Greenfield joined the Quakers, advocating a just society for all people in the United States, she freed her slaves. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was loyal and stayed with Mrs Greenfield, who advised her to cultivate her gift for singing. She took her advice by continuing her study of music, and in 1851 she made her debut as a public performer in Buffalo, New York. This was followed by a tour of several cities.

In March 1853 following a concert in Buffalo friends raised funds to enable Elizabeth to go to Europe for further study Unfortunately her agent in Britain reneged on an agreement to devise a British tour To get out of this disastrous situation she sought the support of Lord ...

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African slave who lived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. His Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself (1790) was published when he was 60 years old. It was written down by Shirley Walter, a young Christian woman from the town of Leominster, who was initially interested in Gronniosaw's story for personal reasons, but eventually published the narrative to expose the realities of his life, as well as to aid Gronniosaw and his family financially. The profits from the sales of the narrative were entirely received by him.

Gronniosaw was born in Bournou Nigeria of a royal family His mother was the eldest daughter of the King of Bournou and he enjoyed a happy childhood his grandfather doted on him A deeply curious child Gronniosaw was perplexed by spiritual divine ...

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David Dabydeen

African‐American seaman, probably a slave, who was injured and treated in London while fighting the French in the Napoleonic Wars. The years of Hammon's birth and death are unknown. Hammon published a narrative of his life, Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Suprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man, in 1760. Nothing is known of his life apart from what is recorded in the narrative.

The question of whether he was a slave or not is not entirely known, although he was the servant of a General John Winslow of Marshfield, Massachusetts. He was separated from his master in 1747 and became a captive of the Spanish on his many sea travels He travelled for almost thirteen years enduring various hardships such as imprisonment and enslavement During his travels Hammon held various jobs Notably he worked as a cook aboard a slaver that was bound for ...

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Former slaves whose kidnapping case was fought by the 18th‐century abolitionist Granville Sharp. John Hylas and his wife, Mary, were both born in Barbados. In the year 1754 they were each brought to England—John by his mistress, Judith Aleyne, and Mary by her master and mistress, Mr and Mrs Newton. They met in England, and married with the consent of their owners in 1758. After their marriage John Hylas was set free, and the couple lived happily together until, in 1766, Mary was kidnapped by her former owners and sent to the West Indies to be sold as a slave.

Having heard of Granville Sharp's fight for the liberty of Jonathan Strong, in 1768 John Hylas approached Sharp, who prepared a memorandum enabling him to begin an action against Newton.

The court found in favour of Hylas, who was awarded 1s nominal ...