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Books about Black British History

Black History BooksA reading list of books related to the ongoing Black presence in Britain, Slavery, colonialism and black Settlement in the U.K
The list is by no means exhaustive!

Books about Black British History

  • Staying Power-The History of Black people in Britain by Peter Fryer
    (Pluto Press 1984)
  • Black England-Life before Emancipation by Gretchen Gerzina
    (John Murray,1995)
  • Black Settlers in Britain 1555-1958 by Nigel File and chris Power
    (Heinemann,1981; reprinted 1995)
  • Black Edwardians-Black people in Britain 1901-1914 by Jeffrey Green
    (Frank Cass 1998)
  • Wonderful adventures of Mary Seacole in Many Lands by Mary seacole
    (1857; reprinted by Falling Wall Press,edited by Ziggy Alexander and Audrey Dewjee,1984).
  • Black Londoners 1880-1990by susan Okokon
    (Sutton Publishing Limited, 1998)
  • The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave
    (1831; reprinted by the University of Michigan Press, edited by Moira Ferguson,1993).
  • The first Black footballer-Arthur Wharton 1865-1930 An Absence of Memory by Phil Vasili
    (frank Cass,1998, reprinted 1999)
  • Colouring over the white Line- The History of Black footballers in Britain by Phil Vasili
    (Mainstream Publishing,2000)
  • Breaking Stereotypes-Perspectives of Selected Black and Asian Leaders Edited by Clinton A.Valley,EdD.
    (Minerva Press, 2000)
  • West Indian Women at War-British Racism in World War II by Ben Bousquet and Colin Douglas
    (Lawrence and Wishhart, 1991)
  • Roots of the Future-Ethnic Diversity in the making of Britain
    By Commission for Racial Equality, 1997
  • England Affric-An Ethnological Survey by Ahmed ali and Abrahim Ali
    (Punite Books, 1995) ISBN 0 9518924 4 4
  • A History of the Black Presence in London (Greater London Council, 1986)
    ISBN 0 7168 1679 2
  • Black and white- the Negro and English Society 1555-1945 By James Walvin
    (Allen Lane, 1973)

For a more exhaustive list of useful Books on Black History, you can download a copy of the the Black & Asian Resources available at the British Library.

Posted in African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Caribbean History, SlaveryComments (2)

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London

black-loyalists

Image: Courtesy of Kurt Miller – KMI Studio Website: www.kmistudio.com

It was during the War of Independence in the colony of America that Britain gained herself these unlikely allies. Black loyalists fought for Britain against the American colonists. Free blacks were joined by thousands of slaves who had been promised freedom and land by Britain if they joined in this battle. The idea of British freedom, i.e. complete freedom in the shortest possible time, was appealing to the escaped Africans who in the 1770s made their way to the British army position to fight for Britain and for freedom.

In September 1783, the independence of the United States and the formation of its boundaries were formally recognised. The new country was founded by an egalitarian movement and based on the philosophy of ‘equal rights’ for all.  After this treaty had been signed, the whole British faction had to leave the United States. In the eight months between April and November 1783, over 3,000 black people leaving the country on British ships for destinations as varied as Nova Scotia, the West Indies, England, Germany, Quebec or Belgium, were recorded in the Book of Negroes .

Black Loyalists in 18th Century London

London had a severe poverty problem in the 18th century. This became more pronounced as growing numbers of African-American loyalists arriving from America ended up living on the streets. The black and white loyalists had all been promised compensation for their losses in the War of Independence, however, the majority of claims from the black loyalists were denied or they were given derisory amounts condemning them to lives of destitution. The Parliamentary Commission Compensation Board reviewing the claims stated, on several occasions, that they believed the black claimants were being deceptive in claiming they were free men with property and should adopt a state of gratitude that they were now at liberty rather than pursue applications for financial assistance. In 1786 there were over 1,000 black loyalists living in London. As the negative sentiment regarding the presence of Africans in England increased there were suggestions of where to relocate these black people; the main areas proposed where the Bahamas, where other loyalists had moved to or Sierra Leone, on the West African coast.

The following year around 200 of this impoverished group migrated to Sierra Leone with government assistance; the government wanted to remove the problem of black poverty and the presence of large groups of free black people from the streets of England. There were 344 poor black people on the ship Myro that sailed from London in 1787.  The plan was to move the burden of the ‘troublesome’ black person from the attention of the public, forever . This was an indication of the racially nationalist philosophy that was to perpetuate the abolitionist movement.

 

Further reading and research

The Book of Negroes – that listed all the Black Loyalists evacuated from America – can be found in the archives at Kew (Public Records Office).

There is also a copy available online here

The National Archives contain records, that can only be viewed in the reading room, about the Committee for the Relief of Poor Blacks and their emigration to Sierra Leone; this covers the details of events between May 1786 to April 1787.

This article was contributed by Marjorie Morgan.Writer, Researcher. © 2013 | Blackpresence has special permission to publish this article.

Related Link: Black Loyalists

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Soldiers, Guest Blog Posts, SlaveryComments (5)

Black Europe and the African Diaspora

Black Europe

Black Europe

Edited by Darlene Hine, Tricia Keaton & Stephen Small

 

“An elegant, imaginative, and penetrating intervention in the ethnographies and theories of race and community in the African diaspora. A masterful contribution to the growing field of Black European studies and to diaspora studies.” Mamadou Diouf, co-editor of New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal: Conversion, Migration, Wealth, Power, and Femininity

 “Thought-providing. . . . Highly recommended.”–Choice

 

“Enormously stimulating, this volume is essential reading for those interested in exploring the evolving story of the Black presence worldwide.”–David Barry Gaspar, co-editor of Beyond Bondage: Free Women of Color in the Americas

The presence of Blacks in a number of European societies has drawn increasing interest from scholars, policymakers, and the general public. This interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary collection penetrates the multifaceted Black presence in Europe, and, in so doing, complicates the notions of race, belonging, desire, and identities assumed and presumed in revealing portraits of Black experiences in a European context. In focusing on contemporary intellectual currents and themes, the contributors theorize and re-imagine a range of historical and contemporary issues related to the broader questions of blackness, diaspora, hegemony, transnationalism, and “Black Europe” itself as lived and perceived realities.

Preface Darlene Clark Hine

Foreword Philomena Essed

Introduction: The Empire Strikes Back Stephen Small

 Section One: Historical Facts of Blackness

1. The Emergence of Afro-Europe: A Preliminary Sketch  Allison Blakely

2. Blacks in Early Modern Europe: New Research from the Netherlands Dienke Hondius

3. Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Josephine Baker’s Films of the 1930s and the Problem of Color Eileen Julien

4. Pictures of “US”? Blackness, Diaspora and the Afro-German Subject Tina M. Campt

5. The Conundrum of Geography, Europe d’outre mer and Transcontinental Diasporic Identity T. Sharpley-Whiting and Tiffany Ruby Patterson

 

Section Two. Contemporary Blackness in Focus: France, Germany, and Italy

6. “Black American Paris” and the “Other France”: Interpellative Migration Narratives of; Inclusion and Social Race in Parisian-French Society Trica Danielle Keaton

7. Black Italia: Contemporary Migrant Writers from Africa Alessandra Di Maio

8. Talking Race in Color-Blind France: Equality Denied, Blackness Reclaimed Fred Constant

9. My Volk to Come: Peoplehood in Recent Diaspora Discourse and Afro-German Popular Music Alexander G. Weheliye

10. No Green Pastures: The African Americanization of France Tyler Stovall

 

Section Three. Theorizing, (Re)presenting, and (Re)Imagining Blackness in Europe

11. Black Europe and the African Diaspora: A Discourse on Location Jacqueline Nassy Brown

12. Theorizing Black Europe and African Diaspora: Implications for Citizenship, Nativism and Xenophobia Kwame Nimakoand Stephen Small

13. The Audacious Josephine Baker: Stardom, Cinema, Paris Terri Frances

14. Pale By Comparison: Black Liberal Humanism and the Postwar Era in the African Diaspora Michelle M. Wright

15. Another Dream of a Common Language: Imagining Black Europe Gloria Wekker

Afterword: Black Europe’s Undecidability Barnor Hesse

 

University of Illinois Press

Nov 2009 376pp 9780252076572 PB £19.99 NOW ONLY £13.99

 

Postage and Packing £3.50

(PLEASE QUOTE REF NUMBER: CS1012BEAD for discount)

To order a copy please contact Marston on +44(0)1235 465500 or email direct.orders@marston.co.uk

or visit our website:

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where you can also receive your discount

 

*Offer excludes the USA, South America and Australasia.

 

 

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Visiting Nantes’ dark history in France: The Slavery trail in NANTES HISTORY MUSEUM

Visiting Nantes’ dark history in France: The Slavery trail in NANTES HISTORY MUSEUM

My holiday this Olympic summer focused around my wish to experience the newly launched Slavery trail at Nantes History Museum which is housed in the 16th century Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. It has recently undergone a major refurbishment. In total there are 32 rooms on public display. The Slavery trail covers 11 of them.

Nantes is a port city in North Western France, strategically placed on the Atlantic seaboard on the Loire River; and was one of the major cities of the historic province of Brittany, the ancient Duchy of Brittany. The Museum is in the middle of the city of Nantes and is a major tourist destination.

Nantes’ maritime history is inextricably linked with its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade particularly during the eighteenth century. It was responsible for 45% of the French slave trade, carrying nearly 700,000 Africans into slavery. On the eve of the French Revolution, Nantes was the infamous city of the slavers and consequently one of the richest cities in France and one of her most important ports.

Nanes 18th Century

A view of the port of Nantes on the Fosse coast (print) © Musée d’Histoire de Nantes end of 18thc.

The audio guide visit lasts for the trail lasts about 1¼ hours and focuses on the French Slave Trade and Slavery. One learns that from 17th to the 19th centuries, the Slave Trade played a huge part in Nantes’ commercial life and greatly contributed to its fortune which is apparent in both its civic and ecclesiastical buildings in the city. One learns how a slave trade expedition was organised, who the main shipowners were and about the merchants at the genesis of this French trade. One also learns about the manner in which enslaved Africans were sold and about their lives on the plantations. The use of cutting edge technology in the form of an ipod works well as an interpretation guide in learning about this very complex subject. It opens up information. It also reflects a commitment by the museum to reconsider the city’s slave history by using this new media with interactive terminals as well as the tradition modes of display. It is a very useful mobile educational and research tool downloadable for free as ‘Nantes Slave Trade’.

Nantes Slave Trade for iPhone Audiotour / Podcast

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany Nantes

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany Nantes © Nantes Tourism Office

 

 

A Slave presenting a tray of cigars

A Slave presenting a tray of cigars © Musee d’Histoire de Nantes End of the 18th century.

As an art historian, two objects grabbed my attention. Firstly, there is this extraordinary cigar box represented by a statuette of an enslaved African man. To postmodern sensibilities, it quite shocking. As an artefact it is beautifully crafted. There is a lot of attention to detail including the muscles and ribs straining through his hardened back by this repetitive and back-breaking labour in the heat. Tracing the root and route of commodities is always interesting; and inevitably most of them can be traced back to the slave trade. One of the popular colonial luxury products, shipped home to Nantes from Martinique, Guadeloupe and Saint-Domingue (Haiti) was of course, tobacco.

The enslaved African is depicted holding a wooden and brass lined cigar tray. The wood is stained black to imitate ebony. He is stripped to the waist. Poignantly he wears a metal chain around his waist and large gold earrings (or pearls) which was the popular way of depicting black people as a luxury item for the white master or mistress. This therefore makes direct reference to the French colonial system and her tobacco plantations in her colony of the Antilles in the then French Caribbean which served the aristocratic and upper middle classes of the Nantais elite.

The object represents one of the products of the Americas which crossed the Atlantic which was so in vogue in the drawing rooms of high society at that time. This is one of the original objects of the collection exhibited back in 1924 at the former Salorges Museum which was part of the Nantes Museum, who had adopted a similar theme of slavery in their exhibition to teach about Nantes’ involvement in the slave trade.

Young woman piercing the ear of her black servant 1735  by Jean-François de Troy

Young woman piercing the ear of her black servant
1735 by Jean-François de Troy © Musee d’Histoire de Nantes

Young woman piercing the ear of her black servant
1735 by Jean-François de Troy © Musee d’Histoire de Nantes

Due to my specialisation in eighteenth century art history, I was very interested in the few oil paintings in the exhibition especially this one depicting an image of a young black boy. This is a scene of domestic exploitation. I am not sure whether it is one of parody: a social satire. Interestingly, the presence of Africans in Nantes was not well known before this time of the painting. By 1777 there was quite a significant number who were mostly domestic servants. Here one black slave is having his ears pierced against his will. It is thought to be by French Neo-classical painter (and tapestry designer), Jean-François de Troy (1679-1752) who painted a similarly portrait of the Duchess of Orléans with a young black girl in attendance. Troy was a portrait painter of fashionable French high society.

This obviously wealthy young woman has her servant in a tight grip between her knees like a vice so he cannot make a lucky escape. He is clearly her boy servant wearing the typical clothes of an enslaved servant with his collar of slavery purposefully included so the viewer can easily read the painting of class and servitude.

The piercing is like tagging a dog or prisoner for ownership and control. He is also lavishly dressed as a status symbol: an objectified display of her consumption of extravagance. The anticipated pearl earring is another luxury accessory by which to show off the owner’s wealth. The inclusion of earrings on black persons was a common prop for most paintings of this type and period. The enslaved black African could not become upwardly mobile. During the 18th century, before the abolition of slavery, enslaved Africans could not integrate into French society, obtain an education or take up an apprenticeship.

They were imprisoned by their colour. This lady, unidentified like the boy, is presumably one of the great Nantais families whose business interests were invested in the French colonies and therefore the slave trade. Such women acquired or brought their black domestic servants back with them to work in their wealthy town houses like the ones on the l’île de Feydeau in Nantes.

Despite the subject-matter, I really appreciated this new trail and to witness that Nantes History Museum is prepared to confront its uncomfortable past. There were so many varied artefacts. It is a shame that there is no printed catalogue available in English to build on the curatorial research from their previous exhibition of the same theme in 1992-4 entitled The Shackles of Memory. We could have spent three or four hours there. I highly recommend this Museum to anyone interested in or still ignorant of the French triangular slave trade, especially on French soil.

© Rovianne Matovu September 2012

Brief Biography:

Rovianne Matovu currently works part-time at The National Gallery. She gives public talks and is a freelance museum educator specialising in the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Museums and Galleries. She has worked on various Black History Month projects which includes Hackney Museum, The October Gallery, The Wallace Collection and The National Gallery. For her BA, she studied Art History at UCL, awarded an MA in the History of the Book specialising in Text and Image; and recently completed her MA in Education in Museums & Galleries at the Institute of Education, London University. Her final dissertation was on Yinka Shonibare MBE and his installation piece, Scratch the Surface 2007 at The National Gallery.

References:

http://www.chateau-nantes.fr/fichier/t_download/1866/download_fichier_fr_dp.castle.of.the.dukes.of.brittany.2011.bd.pdf

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany – Mobile Applications

Nantes Tourism office

Nantes Tourism Office

Stein, Robert, The Profitability of the Nantes Slave Trade, 1783-1792, The Journal of Economic History, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Dec. 1975), pp. 779-1793, C.U.P. on behalf of the Economic History Association, available: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2119184

Miller, Christopher, The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of The Slave Trade, Duke University Press, 2008

Black, Jeremy, Slavery: A new Global History, Constable & Robinson, 2011

Bindman, D. & Gates, H. Jr., The Image of the Black in Western art, vol. III, Part 3, From The “Age of Discovery” to the Age of Abolition: The Eighteenth Century, Harvard University Press, 2011

Posted in Black History, Black People in Europe, Guest Blog PostsComments (1)

Black History Month 2012 – Africa Channel

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

To mark Black History Month, The Africa Channel will be broadcasting some specially selected documentaries to inform, commemorate, inspire and raise debate. The UK Premiere of the intriguing five part series follows the life of Nelson Mandela, and uses his biography to tell a much broader story about the politics of struggle and reconciliation in South Africa.

Cuba, An African Odyssey is a second addition to the new Africa Channel’s programming this month and brings a transatlantic perspective to the history of Africa’s liberation. This intriguing documentary contains unique interviews alongside rare archival footage.  In addition, a host of inspirational African figures feature in our ‘Great Africans’ series, including Kofi Annan and Wole Soyinka.

NEW DOCUMENTARY SERIES: Mandela

A stunning five-part series that casts new light on the life of one of the most revered people of our time. This biographical series charts the life of Nelson Mandela, and begins with his early years in the rural Eastern Cape, and the irresistible lure of the city that increased as he grew older.

Episode two documents the systems of racial oppression so ingrained in city life, and tells the story of Mandela’s rapid politicisation and fervent campaigning against apartheid. Following this, narrator Chris Nicklin takes us through the infamous Rivonia treason trial and the subsequent dark days of political imprisonment.

Finally, the unprecedented series of negotiations that led to Mandela’s release take us on to the story of South Africa’s liberation and first democratic elections.

The strength of this series lies in its ability to bring original and surprising content to this well-known narrative. Through meticulous research and appealing cinematography, Mandela brings a refreshing angle to this iconic period in history, telling a much broader story about the politics of struggle and reconciliation.

> UK Premiere
> Thursdays at 8pm from 4th October.

DOCUMENTARY: Cuba, An African Odyssey

This film unravels the little-known story of Cuba’s involvement in Africa during the independence and post-independence periods, when countries like the Congo, Angola and Mozambique were used as battlegrounds on which the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were played out.

Beginning with Nelson Mandela’s first foreign visit (to Cuba) after his release from prison, the film asks: why did an international icon of freedom make this visit to see Fidel Castroand pay homage to a country that many feel limits the freedom of its own citizens? The viewer is then taken back to the start of Cuba’s long engagement with Africa from 1960 onwards, beginning with independence in the Congo, and the subsequent assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Intriguing interviews with some of the key figures of this period illuminate the narrative, including Fidel Castro, Larry Devlin (the CIA officer in the Congo during the 1960s) and Pik Botha (the former South African Foreign Minister).

> Part one: Tuesday 25th September at 9pm

> Part two: Tuesday 2nd October at 9pm

PLUS GREAT DOCUMENTARIES FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Wole Soyinka: Child of The Forest
The career of a Nobel Peace Prize winning author and intellectual

>Thursday 4th Oct at 9pm

RFK In The Land of Apartheid
Robert Kennedy’s visit to South Africa in 1966

>Saturday 13th Oct at 5pm

Kofi Annan’s Suspended Dream
An intimate interview with the former Secretary General of the UN

> Thursday 18th Oct at 9pm

Berlin 1885: The Division of Africa
A historical re-enactment of the Berlin Conference

>Tuesday 16th Oct at 9pm

Mwalimu: the Legacy of Nyerere
The architect of Tanzania’s independence

>Saturday 6th Oct at 9pm

Bhambatha: War of the Heads
A remarkable story of resistance in 1905

>Thursday 11th Oct at 9pm

CONTINUING: New Dramas and Wildlife

Jacob’s Cross
Season 7

One man’s quest to build an African empire

> Mondays at 9pm

4Play: Sex Tips for Girls Season 3
Love lives of ladies in Johannesburg

> Mondays at 10pm

Planet Africa
Features dynamic, positive environmental projects.
> Tuesdays at 8pm


Contact

For further information please contact Aurelie Brault

abrault@theafricachannel.tv  T: 0207 148 6919

http://www.theafricachannel.co.uk/

Posted in African American History, African History, Black Britain, Black History, Black History Month UK, Black People in Europe, Black Sports Stars, Black Women, Caribbean History, SlaveryComments (0)

Psychiatric Labels on a Multi-Ethnic Society

BME Health Initiative

BME Health Initiative

15th October 2012 | LondonThere is increasing concern among service users, psychologists, social workers and some psychiatrists about the use of specific labels, especially ‘schizophrenia’, to describe complex problems of living; and the view is has growing that psychiatric labelling is damaging and promotes stigma. Black and some other ethnic minorities seem to suffer most, young African-Caribbean men in particular being much more likely to be labelled ‘schizophrenic’, admitted to hospital on section, and forced to receive neuroleptic drugs. As a result, psychiatry itself is being experienced as oppressive and racist and it is not clear why psychiatry still continues to give such importance to diagnosis.

This conferences will look critically at psychiatric labelling and its effects on BME communities.

The conference aims to bring together academics, researchers, practitioners including health and social care workers, and mental health clinicians who have researched in this field and/or have experience in providing medical, psychological and social care interventions across fields.

Programme of the day

9.00 – 9.30 Registration, Tea & Coffee
9.30 – 10.40 Introduction & ChairWhy are Black People Disproportionately Labelled with ‘Schizophrenia’?
Professor Suman Fernando
10.40 – 11.30 Frantz Fanon and Socio-Diagnosis of Mental Illness
Dr. Derek Hook
11.30 – 11.50 Tea & Coffee
11.50 – 12.40 Perinatal Depression in Black Women and the Impact of Psychiatric Labelling
Dr. Dawn Edge
12.30 – 1.00 Morning session Q&A
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch
2.00 – 2.50 Trapped by Babylon
Dr. Philip Thomas
2.50 – 3.40 Western Psychiatric Language and Labelling in Multicultural and Globalising Worlds
Professor. Derek Summerfield
3.40 – 4.00 Afternoon Q&A
4.00 – 4.30 Plenary, Closure & Evaluation sheets
Who Should attend?This conference will be relevant to all interested in this field as well as all professionals, including those from Local Authorities and NHS trusts across the UK, Psychiatrists, GPs, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Early Intervention Teams, CPN’s, OT’s, Social Workers, Chaplains, Community Faith Leaders & Healers, Equality Leads, Community Development Workers, Service User Representatives, Charities, Third Sector, Educational Establishments, Academics and Policy makers. Where?Oxford House,
Derbyshire Street,
Bethnal Green,
London E2 6HG
Conference Booking 

pdf Conference Brochure pdf Conference Booking Forn

Posted in Black Britain, Black History, Black People in EuropeComments (0)

Sir Pedro Negro: What colour was his skin?

Contributed Article by Miranda Kaufman.

In a footnote to a recent article, 1 Gustav Ungerer concludes that ‘the career of the Spanish mercenary Pedro Negro under king Henry VIII is quite irrelevant to the study of the ideological conception of Othello’ because none of the available contemporary records‘mentions that Sir Peter Negro was black’. He argues that Negro was more likely to belong to a Genoese family of that name that had settled in Spain and Portugal in the course of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This contradicts those who have taken this Spanish mercenary, knighted by Protector Somerset in 1548, as evidence that it was possible for a black man to gain prestige and honour in sixteenth-century Britain. The chief protagonist of Negro’s blackness is literary critic Imtiaz Habib, who draws a parallel between Negro and Othello: ‘Shakespeare’s Othello should be considered . . . in the context of black military service in Tudor armies and generally, of the unacknowledged blacks of sixteenth century England’2This is not a straightforward academic disagreement. Habib’s rhetoric is infused with the underlying accusation that evidence of black mercenaries serving in the Tudor army has been suppressed by white imperialists: ‘This [black] presence is the site of suppressive inscription that is the modality of empire building’.

3He has recently remarked: ‘Its also interesting that whenever any claim of historical significance is made for a Black person in early modern Europe, the blackness of the person has to be immediately challenged. It would appear that even though oppressed, and denigrated in life a Black person has to prove her/his blackness for European history to even acknowledge her/his existence, whereas a White person is White by default and all significance is hers/his automatically.’ 4proach is unhelpful, Ungerer’s proof by omission is not sufficient to disprove Negro’s blackness. Contemporary chroniclers may have seen the name Negro as indication enough that the soldier was black. In this article, I will revisit the evidence for the career of Sir Pedro Negro, including discussion for the first time of his will, his coat of arms, and a letter written in 1549 by Marion, Lady Hume, in order to re-examine the question of his skin colour. An anonymous Spanish chronicler tells us how Pedro Negro came to be in King Henry VIII’s service. He writes that more than a thousand Spaniards were waylaid by unfavourable weather in the Downs, and ‘being tired of the sea, sent for the King to know whether he would take them into his service’. Henry does so, and grants ‘to Pero Negro four hundred ducats’.

5 This is corroborated by a letter of 14 January 1545 in which the Privy Council wrote to Sir Philip Hoby concerning ‘the suit of Pedro Negro and other Spaniards for their abode in safety and offer of service’.

6‘Captayne’ Negro, ‘Spaniard’, ‘the king’s servant’, then begins to receive regular payments from the Crown: starting with £25 on 3 July 1545; £75 on 8 August 1546 and £100 that October.7 In the summer of 1546 he travelled into France with ‘diverse other Spanish knights and gentlemen’, under the command of Spanish colonel Pedro de Gamboa. He was with Julian de Romero, an Italian mercenary, when he challenged and beat Captain Antonio de Mora, another mercenary, for deserting King Henry VIII’s service on 15 July, after which all the Spanish captains were awarded lifetime annuities.8When Colonel Pedro de Gamboa was dismissed, Negro was sent north to take charge of his men. He took with him letters of recommendation from the Council.

9 On 28 September1547 he was knighted by the Lord Protector,Edward Duke of Somerset at the camp beside Roxborough, after the taking of Leith.10 As Holinshed recounts it, ‘the same daie after noone, the duke of Summerset adorned with titles of dignitie diverse lords knights and gentlemen’. 11 The most detailed description of the brave deeds of war that made him worthy of knighthood is to be found in the Spanish chronicle. In a chapter dedicated to recounting ‘How by the Industry of Captian Pero Negro, Haddington was not lost that time’, we hear how, when the 6,000 English in the castle of Haddington were outnumbered by 10,000 besieging Scots, Negro suggested and executed a successful strategy to help.

Haddington was a vital fort, 20 miles to the east of Edinburgh, in East Lothian, which gave the English command of the country right up to the gates of Edinburgh.12 It had to be succoured. On 30 June 1548,13 Negro took 200 Englishmen and 100 Spaniards on horseback, each with 10 or 12 pounds of gunpowder hung from his saddlebow. These men took the Scots by surprise, charging through them while firing muskets,and were able to break through to the castle gates. Here they had to sacrifice the horses, as there was no space or food for them in the castle and they could not give them to the Scots. So the price of delivering 3,600 pounds of gunpowder to the beleaguered castle was the slaughter of 300 horses. However, within three days, the siege was broken, as the English fired their newly-fuelled artillery day and night, and the Scots ‘decided not to await the bad smell’ which would come from the horses’ carcasses.

This ‘pretty feat of war’ gained the captain the General’s recommendation that he be given 200 crowns.14 This story is corroborated in the Scottish state papers, when on 7 July 1548,Thomas Holcroft and John Brende wrote to Protector Somerset, detailing how a mixed group of 150 Spaniards under Negro, plus about 210 English, ‘every one of them a bagge of goonpowder and a rolle of mache before them’ were appointed to succour the besieged. The letter goes on to stipulate that if it proves impossible to bring the horses back, they are to kill them. The corresponding detail makes the Spanish chronicler’s supposedly unreliable. 15 account ring true. It was reported throughout Europe: at the end of August 1548, Van der Delft wrote to the Emperor Charles V: ‘These people (the English) have every day been receiving good news from their forces defending Haddington. They Report that the French besieging army were powerless to do them much harm, and that in spite of the enemy the defenders had been reinforced by 3,000 (300?) men each carrying a good stock of powder’.

16 In another escapade, Negro’s men captured M. d’Etauges, Commandant of the Garrison of Dundee when he came too close to the walls of the English fort of Broughty Ferry. 17.Negro and his men had arrived at Broughty from Haddington sometime before 2 March 1549. 18. Negro continued to serve, as evinced in regular payments made to him by the Treasury, until 10 April 1550. 19.He died in London on 15 July 1551, of the sweating sickness.20 As John Strype recounts: ‘July 10, by reason of this new sweat, the King removed from Westminster to Hampton Court: for there died certain beside the Court, which caused the King to be gone so soon.’ ‘Sir Peryn Negroo’ is listed amongst all those who ‘died in July within a few days one of another’. A total of 872 died from 8 to 19 July in London of this sweat. 21 .His funeral was quite a ceremony, with 12 ‘stayffes’, ‘torches burning . . .flute playing’, his flag bourne, and the street hung with black and with his arms. The preacher was one Dr Bartelet and it was attended by the company of Clerks, ‘a harold of armes and mony morners’.22 The executors of Sir Pedro Negro’s will were granted probate from the Prerogative Court of Canterbury on 4 August 1551.

23.It was made in Spanish, witnessed by the Spaniards John de Guyutana, Martyn de Avilla, and Jerome Alamay, and translated from Spanish into English by Thomas Wytton. His executor was Captain Christopher Diaz, who served with him in Scotland, and was also in the pay of the crown. 24 At death, Negro owned a house, and ‘goodes’ including ‘A Chayne of gold that weyeth Seven and twenty ounces of gold’ and was owed ‘fyve hundreth ducatts’ by Philip de Aranda. We learn that he had a young son, whom he made his heir. There is no mention of a wife. Most fascinating is the sentence: ‘And yf by fortune that a dougter that I have in Italy to be approved to be my daughter then I will she have ffiftie ducatts.’ This suggests that his military career had begun in the Italian wars.

It also begs the question of how this girl was to be proved his daughter. Were he black, the dark hue of her skin would be convincing evidence. If not, how would Diaz know whether this girl was Negro’s daughter or not? This new evidence of an Italian connection lends some credence to Ungerer’s suggestion of Genoese origin, but it can just as easily be explained by Negro’s profession as a soldier. Negro’s crest was ‘of a castle broken, and upon the castle a man with a shert of mail and a sword in his hand.’ 25 This seems to be a reference to his siege-breaking prowess at Haddington. The original grant, preserved in the College of Arms, shows such a crest
(Figure 1).

Pedro Negro Coat of Arms

Author’s sketch of the crest of Sir Pedro
Negro, granted 1547, College of Arms manuscript
2H5, f. 62.

26.The face of the man atop the castle is white. His arms, below the crest, show a tree, bearing fruit, with a bird sitting atop its branches, with a sword above it and surrounded by stars. The bird is identified in the grant as a ‘faucon’ or falcon, the fruit as ‘pommes purfle vert’. Literally this translates as green textured or studded apples.

27.Whether the herald was thinking of pine-cones or The grant of arms made by Sir Thomas Hawley, the Clarenceaux King of Arms, in 1547, describes the knight as ‘Pedro Negro de civitate Bisvista in Regno Castillis’.

28 The Rutland MSS also describes Negro as ‘Spanish’. 31 But his being Spanish does not rule out him being black. As Edmund Spenser noted ‘the Moores and barbarians breaking over out of Africa, did finally possess all Spaine’,32.and despite the reconquest, there were still many of darker complexions living in the Iberian Peninsula. The black population of Spain in the mid-sixteenth century has been estimated at 100,000.

33.A more famous Moor of this time, Leo Africanus wrote: ‘when I heare the Africans evill spoken of, I wil affirme my self to be one of Granada: and when I perceive the nation of Granada to be discommended, then will I professe my selfe to be an African.’ 34.As Ungerer rightly notes, none of the sources directly state Negro’s skin colour.

However, a letter written to Mary of Guise from Marion, Lady Hume on 28 March 1549 provides some strong circumstantial evidence: “Als sua I beseik your grace to be gud prenssis to the Spangyarttis and lat them cum again, for tha do lyk noble men, and als suay the Mour. He is als scharp a man asrydis, besking your grace to be gud prenssis”
unto him. . .
35.This was the third letter Lady Hume had written in the month. Hume Castle had been retaken by the Scots on 16 December 1548.

36 By March, Lady Hume appears to be sending intelligence to the Queen Dowager. On 9 March, she writes from Home:

‘Pleis you to be advertesit that thar is cumit serten of Inglis men to Beryk ma nor wes of befor, bot I belef tha well nocht all be thre thousand men. She warns: ‘caus my son and all uder Scottis men that ye may forga to cum in this cuntre, for ther welbe besynes about this toun or ellis in som uder part in this cuntre’. 37. On 20 March, she writes: ‘the hors men of ther parttis of Ingland that wes at Hatingtonpast by this plas on Tysday.’

38Cameron glosses these horse men as ‘the convoy that had escorted Wilford to Haddington’, but this makes no sense, as James Wilford, the governor of Haddington had been in command there since the previous spring. 39Could it in fact refer to the soldiers who had been at Haddington until quite recently, that is, Pedro Negro’s party?

The letter in which Lady Hume refers to a Moor is written a week later. By then, she is complaining about the villainy of the English who:

‘dystrow all this cuntre’. Strangely it seems the Spaniards, and ‘the Mour’ behave better, ‘lyk noble men’. They owe money to the ‘pur wyfis in this toun for ther expenssis’.

It seems then, that the English and Spanish, who had been at Haddington, passed through Hume on 19 March, and were billeted there, leaving debts. Yet, Lady Hume seems to show special favour to the Spaniards, and especially the Moor, urging Guise to be ‘gud prenssis’ to them. Perhaps her favour was won the year before, when the Spaniards were involved in a failed attempt to take Hume castle from the English. Lord Grey reported to Somerset that ‘the Queen has bought the Spaniards at Hume to sell the castle and kill the captain’.

40This attempt was unsuccessful, but it may help to explain why Lady Hume saw the Spaniards as potential allies. Whether this Moor was Pedro Negro is not certain. Sadly Lady Hume does not mention him by name. But the circumstantial evidence is striking. There was clearly at least one Moor in Berwickshire in 1549: if it was not Pedro Negro, then who was it? If not Pedro Negro, then perhaps Jacques Granado, another mercenary, knighted by Somerset a week after Negro on 1 October 1547, at Newcastle, 41whose name suggests he was from Grenada, and whose arms include ‘a Blackamoor’s head couped Sable, wreathed argent’.

42There is concrete evidence of a man of African descent serving in the Tudor army twenty-seven years earlier in Exeter, where a Military Survey of 1522 lists in the Parish of St Petrock, as one of the ‘Billmen able for the war’: ‘Peter Blackmore, a moren borne . . . worth in goods nil’.
43The evidence I am drawing together for my thesis shows a considerable black presence (of around 300 individuals) in Britain in the period 1500–1640. That only fifteen of these are present in the period 1500–60 is perhaps a reflection of the fact that Parish Registers (the dominant source) only began in 1538, and often do not survive from that early. At the very least Lady Hume’s letter means that we cannot yet entirely dismiss the idea of a mercenary soldier of African descent serving in the Anglo Scottish wars of the mid-sixteenth century.

This  Article was first published in June 2008 as: Miranda Kaufmann, ‘ Sir Pedro Negro: what colour was his skin?, Notes and Queries, 253, no. 2 (June 2008), pp. 142-146. Thanks to Notes and Queries and Oxford University Press for permission to reproduce it here.

Link to the Original Article:
Miranda Kaufman

Notes: 

1Gustav Ungerer, ‘Recovering a Black African’s Voice in an English Lawsuit: Jacques Francis and the Salvage
Operations of the Mary Rose and the Sancta Maria and Sanctus Edwardus, 1545–ca 1550’, Medieval and Renaissance
Drama in England, xvii (2005), 255, n. 4.
2 I. Habib, ‘Othello, Sir Pedro Negro and the Blacks of Early Modern England: Colonial Inscription and Postcolonial Excavation’, Literature, Interpretation, Theory, ix (1998), 15. The argument is repeated in his book: Shakespeare and Race: Postcolonial praxis in the early modern period (2000), 129–30.
3 Ibid., pp. 15–16.
4 I. Habib, ‘Was Sir Peter Negro Black?’ Black and Asian Studies Association Newsletter, xlvi (November 2006), 5
6 M. A. S. Hume, Chronicle of King Henry VIII of England, written in Spanish by an unknown hand (1889), 123, 128.

6 Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII [hereafter L&P], ed. R. H Brodie and J. Gardiner (1905),
XX, Part I, 27.
7 Acts of the Privy Council [hereafter APC], ed. J. R. Dasent (1890), I, 208, 511; L&P (1910), XXI, Part II, 156.
8 G. J. Millar, Tudor Mercenaries and Auxiliaries, 1485–1547 (Charlottesville, 1980), 170; C. Wriothelsey, A Chronicle of England during the Reigns of the Tudors from AD 1485 to 1559, ed. W. D. Hamilton, Camden Society, 11, 20 (1875–1877), I: 173–4; Hume, Chronicle of King Henry VIII, p. 128.
9 Hume, Chronicle of King Henry VIII, pp. 201–2.
10 Millar, Tudor Mercenaries, p. 191; W. A. Shaw, The Knights of England: A complete record from the earliest time
to the present day of the knights of all the orders of chivalry in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of Knights Bachelors, 2 vols (1906), II, 62.
11R. Holinshed, Chronicles: England, Scotland and Ireland, ed. J. Johnson (1965), V, 888.
12A. F. Pollard, England Under Protector Somerset (1900), 171.
13 G. Phillips, The Anglo-Scottish Wars 1513–1550: A military history (1999), 225.
14 Hume, Chronicle of King Henry VIII, pp. 203–5.

15 According to Millar, Tudor Mercenaries, p. 170, n.13:‘This fascinating, but totally untrustworthy, account of events contains much confusing information on the role of Spanish mercenaries in Tudor service—which, like much else in the work does not hold up when compared with other sources.’ I do not entirely agree with this assessment, but have attempted to corroborate all material from this source.

16 Calendar of State Papers, Spanish, ed. M. A. S. Hume and R. Tyler (1912), IX, 287. The query is Hume’s. From the other accounts, 300 seems the more likely number.
17Jean de Beague, The History of the Campagnes 1548 and 1549, tr. P. Abercrombie (Edinburgh, 1707), 84.
18The Scottish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine, ed. A. I. Cameron (Edinburgh, 1927), 309; APC, II, 261.
19APC, I, 208, 511; II, 183, 261, 275, 279, 419.
20H. Machyn, The Diary of Henry Machyn, Citizen and Merchant-taylor of London, 1550 to 1563, ed. J. G. Nichols (Camden Soc., 42, 1848), 320.
21 J. Strype, Ecclesiastical memorials; relating chiefly to religion, and the reformation of it, and the emergencies of the Church of England, under King Henry VIII. King Edward VI. and Queen Mary the First, 3 vols (Oxford, 1822), II, 493.
22Machyn, The Diary of Henry Machyn, p. 8.
23T.N.A., PROB 11/34.
24E.g. APC, Vol. I, p. 511.
25:Machyn, The Diary of Henry Machyn, p. 320.
26College of Arms manuscript, 2H5, f.62. See Figure 1.
27:J. Parker, A Glossary of Heraldry (1894), 480, defines‘purfled’ as: ‘garnished: a term applied to the studs of armour, the trimmings of robes, arrows, bird bolts (q.v.)’.

28While the pineapple might initially seem to point to an exotic origin [in 1602, Michael Hemmersham wrote that in Guinea ‘The Moors consume quantities of Ananas, as they call this fruit which is like an artichoke’], it was the Portuguese who had brought that fruit, which originated in Brazil, to Africa. In fact a pineapple might even have been a reference to Spain, as in 1492 Christopher Columbus found pineapples growing at Guadeloupe and carried some back to Spain to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It became the king’s favourite fruit, as recounted by Peter
Martyr in De Orbo Novo, I.262: ‘the king prefers (this fruit) to all others’. The pineapple did not come to England until the time of Cromwell. See: F. Beauman, The Pineapple: King of fruits (2005), 31–2, 42, 44.
29Beauman, The Pineapple, p. 44.
30College of Arms manuscript, 2H5, f.62. This is my transcription of the text. Alternately, it may read ‘Birvista’. Unfortunately I have been unable to locate such a city in Castile. The closest I could find was Bijvesca in Aragon, south west of Zaragoza.
31The manuscripts of His Grace, the Duke of Rutland, G.C.B., preserved at Belvoir Castle, Historical Manuscripts Commission, 4 vols (1888–1905), I, 37.
32E. Spenser, A View of the Present State of Ireland, ed.W. L. Renwick (1934), 57.
33J. Lawrance, ‘Black Africans in Renaissance Spanish Literature’, in T. F. Earle and K. J. P. Lowe (eds), Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (2005), p. 70. See also D. Blumenthal ‘ ‘‘La Casa dels Negres’’: Black African solidarity in late medieval Valencia’ and A. Martı´n Casares, ‘Free and freed black Africans in Granada in the time of the Spanish Renaissance’, in the same volume.
34Leo Africanus, The History and Description of Africa, trans. John Pory (1600), ed. R. Brown, 3 vols
(1896), I, 190.
35Scottish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine, 296.
36Pollard, England under Protector Somerset (1900), 265.
37Scottish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine, 291–2.
38Tuesday 19 March: Scottish Correspondence of Mary of Lorraine, 295.
39J. D. Alsop, ‘Wilford, Sir James (b. in or before 1517, d. 1550)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,
(Oxford, 2004) http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29406, accessed 11 Oct 2007.
40 J. Bain ed., Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, I:1547–1563, (Edinburgh, 1898), Grey to Somerset,9 February 1548, 75.

MIRANDA KAUFMANN
Christ Church, Oxford
doi:10.1093/notesj/gjn034
 The Author (2008). Published by Oxford University Press.
All rights reserved. For Permissions,
please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

 

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In Celebration of the 2012 Notting Hill Carnival TWO Blue Heritage Plaques will be unveiled to honour the Pioneering Fathers of Europe’s largest Street festival.

(Released 14th August 2012)

In Celebration of the 2012 Notting Hill Carnival TWO Blue Plaques will be unveiled to honour the Pioneering Fathers of Europe’s largest Street festival.

It was a sunny August afternoon in 1965, and an adventure playground in Ladbroke Grove was about to become the unlikely setting for the birth of a phenomenon. A group of expert steel pan players, along with some mime artists and clowns, had been invited to entertain local people inside the playground. The event was a small part of a week-long multi-cultural festival organised by community worker Ms Rhaune Laslett, called the Notting Hill Fayre. Many cultural and ethnic groups were invited to participate, and the steel band were supposed to represent aspects of West Indian culture. While the musicians were well received, they remained in the playground for most of the day and apparently some fatigue began to set in amongst them. One of the musicians, Russell Henderson, suggested to the others that they leave from where they were and take their music to the streets. Without giving it a second thought he left the playground with pan around neck, and fellow musicians in tow, heading off on a walk towards Holland Park and back, becoming like a musical pied piper in the process. That historic walk set in place a parade which would become the foundations of what would soon be known as the Notting Hill Carnival.

The success of the Notting Hill Fayre prompted Ms Laslette to run the event the following year. But as the West Indian component began to feature more, the ending of the decade saw the annual festival – now just over the August bank holiday weekend – become an exclusive Caribbean affair. It was run mainly by Trinidadian carnival enthusiasts and featured the music of the island. At its peak it attracted crowds of up to 1000. However, it was not until the arrival of local teacher and visionary Leslie Palmer as Director of Notting Hill Carnival in 1973, that the template for the modern Notting Hill Carnival was born. Leslie Palmer realising the carnival needed to be marketed to a wider audience, decided to include local Jamaican sound systems and black music bands playing live on the street corners at the carnival for the first time.

While this was seen as controversial, it transformed the carnival in terms of numbers attending. He also invited and encouraged traditional costumery aka – Mas(querade), and 1973 was the first time costume bands and numerous steel bands from the various Islands took part in the August bank holiday parade. The following year stewarding and stalls were introduced. The other remarkable thing that happened during his second and third year respectively in charge of carnival, was first Radio London and then Capital Radio broadcasting from the street festival. This was the turning point in commercialising the event. Leslie Palmer was director of Notting Hill Carnival for only three years, but by the time he left to go and work for Island records in late 1975, the event in the capital event was attracting in excess of 500,000 people.

The Notting Hill Carnival is now the largest street festival in Europe, second in the world only to Brazil’s Rio carnival. The carnival was one of the selling points used in helping the capital to be awarded the Olympic Games by the IOC. Therefore it is fitting that in 2012, we follow up last year’s tribute to the Mothers of Notting Hill, by remembering two more of its most inspirational figures aka the Fathers of Notting Hill Carnival. The unveiling of the Russell Henderson and Leslie Palmer Heritage Plaques will officially open up the 2012 Notting Hill Carnival Weekend celebration. The event will take place on Tavistock Road (aka Carnival Square), London W11 1AR on Friday 24th August at 1pm. The ceremony will be followed by a reception at Carnival Village, Powis Square W11 2AY (5 minutes walk from Carnival Square). 

Notes The commemorative blue plaques organised by the Nubian Jak Community Trust in 2011, are supported by London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprise Trust, the Royal borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, and Carnival Village. They will be unveiled facing each other on the corner of Tavistock Road (carnival square) and Basing Street, London W11, on Friday 24th August at 1pm. A reception will follow at Carnival Village, The Tabernacle, Powis Square, London W11. For more information call 0800 093 0400 

Quotes:

 Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell, said:

“For nearly half a century Notting Hill Carnival has been a major event, not just for black Britons, but Britain as a whole. It makes complete sense to recognise the key people in its creation.

Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner His Excellency Garvin Nicholas said:

“In Trinidad and Tobago we have always known about the unifying power of Carnival. It is no surprise therefore to see our nationals getting involved and bringing our culture to local communities in the United Kingdom. Leslie Palmer and Russell Henderson are two nationals who have had significant influence on what we now know as Notting Hill Carnival. It is important that we acknowledge this contribution and ensure that it not be forgotten”

Founder of the Nubian Jak Plaque Commemorative Plaque Scheme Jak Beula said: “There are so many people who have played an important part in the evolution of Notting Hill Carnival. It is fitting that in 2012 when the eyes of the world are on London, the capital’s best known festival should honour and recognize two of its most influential pioneers Russell Henderson and Leslie Palmer.”

Managing director for UK Centre for Carnival Arts Paul Anderson said:

“„The UK Carnival sector owes a great debt to the cultural leadership and drive Russell Henderson and Leslie Palmer showed nearly 50 years ago. Without their creative vision and belief in carnival and communities the stage would never have been set for our very own UK Centre for Carnival Arts launched in 2009. We are therefore delighted to honour their legacy through sponsoring one of these memorial plaques.‟”

Director of Ebony Steel Band Pepe Francis MBE Said” “I would like to say a big thank you to Leslie Palmer for bringing the Trinidad style carnival on the road to Notting Hill, and to Russell – you have been a legend over the years from the Colhern pub in Earls Court to Notting Hill Carnival. Literally that is how it was with him.”

Press release from www.nubianjak.com Twitter@nubianjak.com

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Robert Wedderburn – Black Radical

Robert Wedderburn

Robert Wedderburn

Robert Wedderburn was born in Jamaica in 1762. His father was White Scottish, and his mother a slave. His family life was not one that involved a loving home. His father sold his mother to Lady Douglass, whilst she was pregnant with Robert. He did stipulate that when the child was born, he should be free.

Robert was raised by his maternal Grandmother. He then ran away to join the Navy. He came to England in 1778.  Living in the slum areas frequented by immigrants and outlaws he made a meagre living as a journeyman Taylor.

Robert Wedderburn and the Spenceans

In the late 1780’s he became interested in religion. He met Thomas Spence and joined the Society of Spencean Philanthropists. He first began to make a name for himself when the leader of the Spenceans, Thomas Evans was jailed for High Treason in 1817. Robert Wedderburn brought out a periodical called “The Forlorn Hope, or a call to the Supine, To rouse from Indolence and assert Public Rights”. With this he hoped to establish a free Press.

Police spies were always watching him. From their records we can see that Wedderburn opened a public meeting house in Hopkins St, Soho. Apparently his sermons were attended by around 200 hundred people each Sunday. He taught theology, morality, natural philosophy and politics.

Wedderburn was arrested for sedition. He was defending a slaves rights to rise up and kill his master. He was placed in Newgate Jail until a bail of £ 200 was raised. Shortly after the Peterloo Massacre took place. Wedderburns group declared it an act of murder committed by the magistrates and the Yeoman.

Wedderburn was also an anti Slavery campaigner. He sent the first revolutionary papers from England to the West Indies. This was called ‘The axe laid to the root , or “A fatal blow to oppressions, being an address to the planters and Negroes of the island of Jamaica“.

For this Wedderburn was arrested and found guilty of ‘Blasphemous libel’. He served 2 years in Carlisle jail. When he was released, he wrote his autobiography entitled The Horrors of Slavery”.

Related Links

 

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George Polgreen Bridgetower

George Polgreen Bridgetower

George Polgreen Bridgetower

George Polgreen Bridgetower  was a talented  African violin Prodigy.  Bridgetower was born in Biala, Poland on February 29, 1780.
He was one of the most celebrated black musicians in Europe during the eighteenth and early nineteenth Century.

His father, the African Prince was married to a German woman who is named in English documents as Mary Ann Bridgetown. They had two sons, who both became fine musicians. The younger brother, “Fredrick; ” was a cellist.

In 1789 An African Prince of the name Bridgetower, came to Windsor with a view of introducing his son, a most possessing lad of ten years old, and a fine violin player.

He was commanded by their majesties to perform at the Lodge, where he played a concerto of Viotti’s and a quartet of Haydn’s, whose pupil he was; both father and son pleased greatly. Noted for his talent and modest bearing, the other for his fascinating manner, elegance, expertness in all languages, beauty of person, and taste in dress. He seemed to win the good opinion of every one, and was courted by all.

from: – Court and Private Life in the Times of Queen Charlotte,
Being the Journals of Mrs. Papendiek assistant keeper of the wardrobe and reader to Her Majesty ( vol.4)

George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetown. prodigy of the violin, patronized and into the musical establishment of the Prince of Wales at Brighton when he was just ten.In 1802 Bridgetower went to Europe where he was introduced to Beethoven in Vienna, by Prince Lichnowsky (the same Lichnowsky for whom the Pathetique Sonata for Piano is dedicated.)

George played in the Prince’s band at the Royal Pavilion Brighton for 14 years .He is best remembered today for his association with Ludwig van Beethoven who wrote the Kreutzer Sonata for the Afro-European violinist in 1803.

The title folio of Beethoven’s autograph copy of the Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op.47, bears the inscription, "Sonata mulattica composta per il mulatto Brischdauer" reproduction in Joseph Schmidt-Gorg and Hans Schmidt. eds., Ludwig van Beethoven [New York, 1970] p. 140).

Beethoven and George Bridgetower first performed this work in Vienna at the Augarten on May 24, 1803. (The Musical Quarterly vol.,LXVI)Ludwig vanBeethoven, played in the houses of the nobility, in rivalry with other pianists, and performed in public with such visiting virtuosos as violinist George Bridgetower.

Link:
The British Library – George Polgreen Bridgetower

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PjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gU2VsZWN0IGEgY2F0ZWdvcnk6PC9saT48L3VsPg==