Early Black presence

  1. Brief history

    Even prior to the arrival of the Empire Windrush in 1948, historical sources in Greater Manchester reveal there has been a Black presence in the city since the 18th century.

  2. What's available

    Several entries in the Royton and Oldham parish registers records the life of Juba Royton, a black man who lived in Royton in the 1700s.

    Entries in parish registers include:

    • Warrington St. Ephin, baptism, 31 May 1691. "Two Blacks. John & Nathaniel, servants to Joshua Platt"
    • Warrington St. Ephin, burial, 25 Dec 1686. "A Blackemore boy"
    • Warrington St. Ephin, burial, 19 Apr 1697. "John Peea a Blackamore"
    • Manchester Cathedral, burial 20 May 1757, "Philip a Negro from Mr. John Mosse" (ref: MFPR 15, submitted by Mr. George Dawes).
    • Bidston St. Oswald (Cheshire), burial 16 Jan 1763, "Old Providence" of Moreton.
    • St. Mary, Parsonage, Manchester, baptism 18 December 1767 "Frances Williams...a Black Woman" (ref: MFPR 158)
    • Cross Street Presbyterian Chapel, Manchester, baptism 21 December 1771. "Immy and Fanny, two West Indian girls, one about 15, the other about 13 years of age, natural children of Mr. Campbell of Scotland" (ref: MFPR 278, submitted by Mr. George Dawes).
    • St. Lawrence, Denton, baptism "Hector Hyde a negro servant of the said George Hyde Clarke Esq. aged 14 was Baptized at the Chapel of Denton July 19th 1772" (ref: MFPR 107)
    • Holy Church Woodchurch (Cheshire), baptism 16 May 1784, "Robert ?Cleaveland a Black about 15 years old"
    • St. Anne, Manchester, baptism 17 February 1786 "William Ballard a child now about Eight Years Old and son the late William Tate late of the Isle de Las on the Winward coast of Africa. His mother also a native of that country" (ref: Archives M403/1/1/2).
    • St. Michael and All Angels, Ashton-under-Lyne, grave inscription "Here was interred the body of Augustin Leonard a black man a native of the island of Martinique who died in this town April 2nd 1793 Aged 42. He was a faithful servant, an affectionate husband, sincere friend and cheerful companion"
    • Manchester Cathedral, baptism 26 December 1798. "Indiana Mundi aged 14, a negro girl from Congo on the coast of Africa, disposed of to Mr. Paton at St. Kitts and transferred from him to Archibald Paton M.D." (ref: MFPR 19, submitted by Mr. George Dawes).
    • St. Wilfrid, Mobberley, Chesire, baptism 20 October 1805. "Thomas Jacques, An East Indian Malay, aged 12 years" (ref: MFPR 557).
    • St. Peter, Manchester, Mosley Street, baptism 1 October 1810 "Thomas Stonehewer Travis a negro servant of Mr. Travis an American merchant of North Carolina, born 1787" (ref: MFPR 164). It is possible that the Mr. Travis in question was James Travis, gentleman, of Middleton, who married Mary Stonehewer of Macclesfield at Prestbury, Cheshire, on 24 October 1786.
    • Daresbury Chapel (Cheshire), baptism 10 August 1817, Eliza Daughter of John and Ellena "Negro Woman" Pollard.
    • Manchester Cathedral, burial 9 March 1830 No. 279 "a man of Colour Town's Yard" (ref: MFPR 15)
    • Manchester Cathedral, burial 26 August 1831 No. 933 Eliza Alburn of Manchester, aged 22 years "a brown girl from Upper Germany" (ref: MFPR 15)
    • Birch in Rusholme St. James: baptism 20 May 1842, No. 88 Phillip Birch Native of Congo Africa; burial 4 June 1842, No. 10 Phillip Birch (an African) aged 27 of Victoria Park Rusholme. This man can also be found on the 1841 census as a "Phillip Congo" (ref: MFPR 1817)

    Prison records sometimes contain details of black people. An entry in the prison register for Belle Vue Prison, Hyde Road (ref GB127.M600/1/1/8) shows:

    • No. 56056
    • Date of conviction: 14 July 1869
    • Name: John Abdella
    • For what offence: Begging
    • Sentence: 14 days hard labour
    • Age: 39
    • Description: Height 5¾ft
    • Complexion: Face Black, Hair D. Grey, Eyes Black
    • Marks upon person: scars each eyebrow, low nose, nose slightly crooked, scar left cheek, two scars on chest, boil marks on back
    • Trade: Hawker
    • Place of birth: Africa
    • Wife: E. Abdoulah, Ashley Lane

    The prison registers for 1869 to 1877 also contains entries for:

    • John Abdo, "African" (M600/1/1/9 entry 62377 & M600/3/3/1 entry 1147)
    • Joseph Frank, "Native of Peru" (M600/1/1/10 entry 68892)
    • William Henry Stewart of 7 Byrom Street, "Native of Jamaica" (M600/1/1/10 entry 69332, M600/1/1/14 entry 7155)
    • Robert Bascomb of Red Bank, "Native of Bermuda" (M600/1/1/10 entry 69509, M600/1/1/11 entry 78684, M600/1/1/14 entry 8551)
    • Joseph Williams  "of Barbadoes" (M600/1/1/11 entry 80838; M600/1/1/12 entries 88754, 89842; M600/1/1/13 entries 940356, 94662, 98493)
    • Andrew Robinson, a black American sailor (M600/1/1/11 entry 85071)
    • Joseph Smith, "Native of Africa" (M600/1/1/12 entry 90459,  M600/1/1/16 entry 23168, M600/1/1/15 entry 16197)
    • Sussannah Black / Brown, place of birth "Egypt" (M600/1/1/13 entries 94089, 96381, 97367; M600/1/1/14 entries 7064, 8392, 9360)
    • Andrew Robson, described as a "Mulatto", gives excellent description of his tattoos (M600/1/1/16 entry 22491)
    • Carafu, from Africa (M600/3/3/1 entry 8027)
    • William C Jackson of Bury, born in New Jersey (M600/3/2/2 entry 6815)
    • John Allsopp, "black man" born in Baltimore (M600/3/2/2 entry 1270)

  3. How to access

    Resources marked with GB or Archives are available in the search room at Central Library, please make an appointment.

    Records on microfilm (marked MFPR or M600) are available on the ground floor at Central Library, no appointment needed.

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