Black people have been present in Britain since its early history. A troop stationed at Hadrian’s Wall in the third century AD was reported to include black soldiers and, in medieval times, black musicians were a common feature of Britain’s courts. In the 18th century Britain’s increasing mastery of transatlantic trade, particularly its dominant role in the trade in enslaved Africans, brought about a significant increase in its black population. By 1770 this population is estimated to have numbered around 15,000 people, based largely in London and around ports involved in transatlantic trade such as Bristol and Liverpool.
Black Britons worked in a variety of professions; as sailors, shopkeepers, artisans, labourers, peddlers and street musicians, amongst others. The biggest employment sector for both white and black populations was domestic service and a large number of black people worked as servants, butlers, valets and other domestic helps. Unlike their white counterparts it is probable that black domestic workers were largely unpaid and unable to voluntarily leave their employer. The social and legal position of black people in Britain remained precarious throughout the 18th century and, as Norma Myers has noted, ‘as late as 1785 black people continued to be regarded and indeed, treated as property’.
Some Africans were able to resist the anonymity and oppression of domestic service and attain a profile for themselves. Examples include Francis Barber (ca. 1735-1801), the Jamaican-born valet, secretary and later heir of Samuel Johnson, also Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780), born on a ship transporting slaves from Africa to the West Indies, butler to the Montagu family, later owner of a Westminster grocery shop and best-selling author of a collection of letters, published in 1782. The records of other African lives marked by slavery have been lost to us but are likely to be as varied as a racist society permitted.
Despite the diversity of black people in Britain and the occupations they held, in the visual culture of the period they appear most frequently in the role of domestic servant. The black servant is typically depicted as a boy or young man wearing a form of orientalised dress (or, at the very least, a feathered turban) in an affluent urban domestic environment. He is rarely pictured at the centre of the scene, which is usually dominated by white subjects, but is generally positioned at its margins. He is often associated with new commodities made available through transatlantic trade, such as tobacco, coffee, chocolate or tea (drunk with sugar from West Indies plantations)."
An analysis of 18th century images of Black Britons as (indentured and not) servants in art history in the 18th Century from the Victoria and Albert Museum. I like that it stresses the fact that the images of Black people as marginal figures don’t reflect the actual diversity in the lives of real people in that area during that time.
Daylight: Matt and Kim
I’m actually kind of proud of this one. I think I’m understanding how to write reviews?
“To the people clinging to the notion that female-led pictures are a niche genre, people see them! They make money! The world is round, people!” - Cate Blanchett
i really want to blog-journal, you know, bear my soul on a pretty layout with complimentary B&W photography. it’s so much easier typing out what i’m thinking bc my hand can’t hold a pen fast enough to keep up. but then i’m like, oh the internet isn’t what it used to be 10 years ago when i was on xanga and livejournal.
maybe i’ll make one of those password protected tumblrs…
i need feminism because when jesus does a magic trick it’s a goddamn miracle but when a woman does a magic trick she gets burned at the stake
i mean they did also kill jesus. that was a pretty significant thing that happened. like i understand where you’re coming from here but they very much did kill jesus.
I scrolled down hoping for an explanation and there was none.
depression is when you don’t really care about anything
anxiety is when you care too much about everything
and having both is just like whatHaving both is staying in bed because you don’t want to go to school and then panicking because you don’t want to fail. Having both is wanting to go see your friends so you don’t lose them all, then staying home in bed because you don’t want to make the effort. Having both is insanely hard and sucks to deal with.
LIKE I’VE BEEN SAYIN THIS SINCE FOREVER
ah yes the first pokemon battle of the game
tackle tackle tackle tackle tackle