More Black Bristolians

My book, “Black Bristolians” was written in 1986 and I added a supplement a few years later. As with much of my output it took the form of lists in name order. The book is now out of print but a copy may be found in Bristol Reference Library or the pdf downloaded here. Needless to say, even without the extensive additions in the supplement, I continue to come across more of our fellow citizens who until fairly recently, and certainly before 1986 (!) were part of a hidden history.

John Barry, a black man, committed to Bath prison for entering a farmhouse in Langridge, and stealing clothes. (Bath Chron. 19.8.1784)

Augustine Manga Bell was baptised on 24 November 1867 at St Mary Redcliffe, “son of King Bell of Cameron [Cameroon] River, Native Chief”. (BRO P.StMR/R/2/4)  This record may indicate that Western African trading partners sent their sons to England to be educated.

“A blacke moore” Unnamed: he was employed as a guard or gardener by Sir John Young around 1560. Young lived the Great House, on the site where the previously named Colston Hall stood. (NA STAC 5/S14/26)

A black servant of T. Palk, esquire, of Ashburton, standing too near the fire, her clothes caught fire and she died in three hours. (FFBJ 25.10.1788)

John Bristol & William Nerow/Nero (?) were baptised at St James in 1745, described as “two black boys, adult, both  the property of Mrs Jane Jones.”(BRO P.St J/R/1/g). NB. William’s adopted name is recorded as “Nerow” by Bristol archives. I believe it is “Nerow” otherwise “Nero”.

John Cajoe, “a negro, about 21 years of age, in the service of Captain John Anderson” of the parish of St Michaels. (Unitarian, Brunswick Square)

John Cato, “Mr Wilkins’ black”, buried 25 November 1757, (Easton in Gordano. (PR)

Cattellena, of Almondsbury, near Bristol, “a negro”, made her will in 1625. It is unlikely she was enslaved; the inventory of her belongings shows that she had her own cow and other possessions. (Probate Inventories, 1625/18)

John Clark, sudden death. John Clark, a mulatto, a flydriver, in January 1847 went to seek medical advice of Mr Kelson of Park Row. The doctor examined him and told him to sit in the surgery, and when he came back he was dead.  (Bristol Mercury 23.1.1847)

Frances Coker, c1767-1820, was a free “woman of colour” who worked for the Pinney family in Bristol. (A fellow servant of Pero.) She died in 1820 and was buried in the Baptist Burial ground at Broadmead aged 53.

Frances Coker left a will, stating her name:

Frances Coker, servant to Mrs Pinney of Great George in the City of Bristol

With legacies to

my dear mother Polly, now residing in the Island of Nevis £30

If she died before Frances, then this money to go to

My brother William Jones, cooper of Charles Town, Nevis.

Also to brother William Jones, £20, plus “all my silver spoons and plate”

If he died before Frances, then the money to be equally divided between the children (un-named) of said William Jones

To other brother Columna (?) of Nevis, £10

To Sister Kitty, £10

To Sister Molly £10

All my clothes and bed linen divided between my two sisters

To Baptist Infirmary £5

To my friend Ann Seymour best tea chest & to be residual legatee

Executors named as brother William Jones of Nevis, and Charles Pinney, esqr of Bristol.

signed by Frances Coker in the presence of John Sansom and Celia Hiscox

Will proved 11th July 1824

See also Pero.

Domingo: “Item, unto the Negro, called Domingo, my servant, I give £50, to be disposed of by my aforesaid nephew, Captain Robert Blake and Captain Thomas Adams, for his better education in the knowledge and fear of God.” (Will of Admiral Robert Blake, of Bridgwater, 1655)

Hannah, a child servant. Hannah, baptised in 1715, was “A nigro servt. to Mr Richard Lathrop about 8 yrs old”. (BRO. P.St T/R/1/c)

Gilman Ivie lived at Dyrham in Gloucestershire where he was baptised at the parish church on 15 August 1575. (BRO. P.Dy/R/1/a)

John Glocester, (sic) “A Negro Servant to Captn Edmond Saunders”, was baptised at St Mary Redcliffe in 1722 (BRO.P.St MT/R/1/7)

Haumath – see Philip White

Robert Hopton, the black servant of Mr. Christopher Claxton, (ex Sheriff of Bristol, pro slavery, anti-reform) threw “One of the thieves out of the window” who was trying to get into Claxton’s house in Queen Square during Bristol Riots, 29/30 October 1831 (see Latimer, “Annals of Bristol, 19th Century”, page 170)

Katherine, ‘a blacke negra servante’ at the HorseheadTavern, Christmas Street, who was buried at Christchurch, 1612. (BRO. P.Xch/R/1/a)

A Lascar. Residents warned about “a man of colour, in appearance a Lascar”, in Bedminster, soliciting assistance, alleged to have false documents saying he is Captain Sam Smith of the Eliza, wrecked off Ascension Bay, and all his property lost. (FFBJ 30.11.1839.)  “Lascar” was the name given to seamen of Indian or S.E. Asian origin.

Rebecca Neale – see William Rice

Negro Boy. Goods belonging to William Molesworth, Esq., to be sold included “A negro boy about 15 years old to be disposed of”. (Bath Chron 22.3.1770)

Negro Man. The body of a negro man taken up, drowned in Bristol Quay. (Bath Chron 22.8.1799)

William Nero: see John Bristol, 1745

Pero of “the bridge”in Bristol. c1743-c1798. In 1765, aged about twelve, with his sisters, Nancy and Sheeba, as part of a job lot, he was purchased for the Mountravers Plantation on Nevis by John Pinney for £115, estimated at £5,750 today.

Pero became a house servant and a trained barber. In 1783 he came to England with the Pinney family and by the following year they were living in Bristol. We know the Pinney family’s Bristol residence as “the Georgian House”. Pero was personal servant to John Pinney and Frances Coker, a freed slave was lady’s maid to Mrs Jane Pinney.

Both Pero and Frances visited Nevis in 1790, and Pero again in 1794. On Nevis he was often entrusted with large amounts of cash. After the second visit Pero’s behaviour changed, and according to Pinney he began to drink heavily. It is tempting to think that something happened during 1794 which caused this change.

When Pero fell ill in 1798, Pinney decided that a change of air at Ashton, then in the Bristol countryside would be beneficial to him. Pinney and his family visited him often.

Pero was about 45 when he died, having served the Pinneys for 32 years. As far as we know, he was never given his freedom.

In March 1999, a new footbridge across the River Frome in Bristol harbour was named after Pero, in commemoration of just one of the slaves who lived and died in the city. (BRO)

James Peters (1879-1954) The first black rugby player to represent England. See this blog.

John Quaco: addenda. His application for a pension from the Seamen’s Hospital Fund in 1763 records that ‘John Quaco has been a free man above one & twenty years & never out of imploy’ (SMV/9/3/3/4/123)

William Read, a negro, committed to Shepton Mallet gaol for theft of a coat belonging to John Byrn at the house of the Bishop of Cloyne, in Bath. (Bath Chron 1.12.1785).

William Rice and Rebecca Neale were married in the church of St. Augustine the Less (next to Bristol Cathedral) in 30 September 1729. They are described in the church register as ‘Blacks’. I have included them in the original edition but not their children. They had four daughters, Mary, Betty, Susannah and Mary, who were baptised in the same church but their baptism records give no further information.

Thomas William, a negro boy, in the service of Mr Jones, baptised Wraxall, 5 October 1800. (PR)

John Trim, aged 18, accused of the theft of two purses from Mr. Richard Atwood. Sentenced to death but commuted to 7 years transportation. (Bath Chronicle 5.4.1787).  (This item appears in the Supplement to “Black Bristolians”, but I was previously unaware of the sentence.)

Philip White [alias Haumath] was baptised at Temple church in 1619/20. He was described as ‘a Barbarian Moore’, which meant that he was known or assumed to come from the Barbary Coast of north Africa (BRO P/Tem/R/1/a)

Catherine Williams, an adult woman, a native of Africa, Park Street, servant, baptised at Augustine the Less, 27.9.1816. (PR)

Most of those named in the original book and the supplement lived in Bristol in the 18th century. It may be that those who kept the records were less keen to differentiate colour or race. Though I also suspect that the dearth of those singled out as “black” or “negro” in later times was due to their intermarrying with the indigenous population. This seems to be confirmed by newspaper records of court proceedings where amongst a vast array of petty criminals, a very small minority of defendants are described as “mulatto”. The names, 1836-60, printed in Bristol Mercury, as follows:

The names, 1836-60, printed in Bristol Mercury, as follows:

  • Fanny Jones: minor criminal damage, instance of racist name calling by her landlady. Parties settled on direction of the Mayor. 12.11.1836
  • William Washington: dispute over money with former partner. He was an “itinerant vendor of medicine for tape worm and cosmetics for the renovation of the human countenance divine”.  Defendant discharged. 9.6.1838
  • Thomas Hussey, seaman, theft of clothes from shipmates. Pleaded guilty. 10.8.1839
  • Amelia Miller: keeper of a disorderly house, alleged theft of a watch. Discharged. 11.7.1840
  • Un-named woman, begging, with three infant children, deserted by husband, destitute and starving. Taken to Workhouse. 2.12.1843
  • Joseph Prince: disorderly behaviour. Fourteen days. 26.10.44
  • Robert M’Dowell: aged 10 or 11. Begging. Mother said she “could do nothing with him”. One month, hard labour, 2.5.1846
  • Edward Fleming: theft of 2 x £20 notes from a shopkeeper. Remanded. 1.12.1849
  • George Edwards: domestic abuse of partner, fined ten shillings. 16.3.1850.
  • Frederick Chambers: deserting wife and leaving her chargeable to parish of Temple. 21 days hard labour. 27.2.1858
  • Valentine Ross: seaman. Theft of 3 coats from the Bartnstaple Arms, Broad Quay. Pleaded guilty. 6 weeks hard labour. 29.5.1859
  • John Small: begging in Clifton. Had 1s. 5¼d  on him when taken in charge. (shock! horror! The report implied with such rishes he had no business begging!) 31.7.1859
  • William Henry Francis: “an intelligent looking young mulatto” charged with stealing £5.19s 6d from a fellow lodger at a coffee house. Casual racism by accuser and spectators, but court found no evidence. Defendant discharged. 22.1.60  (The Oxford English Dictionary defined mulatto as “one who is the offspring of a European and a Black”. This earliest usage regarded “black” and “white” as discrete “species”, with the “mulatto” constituting a third separate “species”.)