Untold London

Via the truly excellent things magazine I’ve come across Untold London which is fascinating, I particularly enjoyed the articles on London’s first Black Mayor, and how opium came to London.

As you’d imagine I’ve been digging around to see if there are things relating to our bit of London, and came across the story of Ignatius Sancho a slave brought to Greenwich as a child where:

They kept Sancho as a pet, denying him an education in the belief that it would make him more obedient. The Duke and later the Duchess of Montague who lived on nearby in Blackheath would eventually take Sancho into their home, support his education and independence.

Sancho became a great man of letters, and following his death in 1780 they were collected and published. In his lifetime he studied the arts and Garrick and Sterne became well acquainted with him. As well as writing, Sancho also composed music, all while running his grocer’s shop off Whitehall.

The first known African man to vote in England, Sancho was not part of the Abolition movement as it is now remembered, for that movement as we imagine it was one begun by the Quakers. But for those who were always seeking to abolish enslavement he was an important presence in the city, an inspiration for what could be achieved with a free life.

There’s more about slavery in Lewisham on the council’s website.

Another interesting Greenwich snippet is that South East London was home at least for a short while to England’s first black rugby star (more here).


About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Civic Society, South East London and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Untold London

  1. Reidski says:

    No local connection, but, if you thought that Sancho stuff was interesting, then I’d suggest you follow it up with a look at the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaudah_Equiano

  2. Andrew Brown says:

    Good link, Reidski, there seem to be a whole load of really interesting stories around this period which have been half lost from popular memory.

  3. Dave Cole says:

    Sancho was buried in a graveyard that now lies at the corner of Victoria Street and Broadway, near New Scotland Yard.

    You might find http://www.derelictlondon.com/ interesting.


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