Our knowledge of the black presence in Victorian London is still seriously under researched. Information on the lives of black women is particularly lacking. However, we will probably never know how many black people lived in London during the Victorian era as information held in many nineteenth century archives such as the national census do not usually record a person's ethnicity, or the colour of their skin. The men, women and children highlighted here were found in a range of historical sources including newspapers, hospital and workhouse records, wills, baptism and other Church records. Photographs have become an important source for research as they allow you to see black people when written records do not reveal their ethnicity. The wealthy can be found posing in studio portraits, the poor in prison and hospital photograph albums. This map highlights some of the diverse lives of those who made up the black presence in nineteenth century London.
Click for interactive Black Londoners map
Map descriptions based on archival research by Caroline Bressey ©The Equiano Centre
Adelaide Cromwell, An African Victorian feminist: The life and times of Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford 1868-1960, Cassell, 1986
BASA Newsletter's (www.blackandasianstudies.org)
Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The history of Black People in Britain, Pluto Press, 1984
Jan Marsh, Black Victorians: Black People in British Art 1800 - 1900, Lund Humphries, 2005
C Peter Ripley, The Black Abolitionist Papers: Vol. 1 The British Isles 1830-1865. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1992.