View Full Version : People of Colour in 19th Century England

08-01-2010, 07:31 AM
So I had this SNI that I think will take place in 19th century England, late, probably like between 1850-1900. At the same time, I don't know much about English history during this time; particularly about how people of colour (African descent, Indian descent, Romani etc) were treated, what jobs they could get, where they lived, etc. I know pretty much how it was in America during this time (civil war, slavery etc).

So any history majors want to weigh in? I'm especially interested in how people of African descent were treated, how they lived, what they could do in society etc., but if you have info about any other ethnic groups in England during this time, please let me know.

Oh, and also if you've got links to online resources on the matter, that would be great :D

08-01-2010, 08:24 AM
By the 19th century, the black population was well-established. Many were poor (with the usual professions that go with that for Victorian times), but some were businessmen, entertainers, priests and doctors. Original origins included direct from Africa or escaped slaves from America (obviously, some were a few generations on from the original migration).

Racism was an issue, and tended to be more openly stated than it is today. However, you didn't see the sort of official segregation some other countries had. A black person ate in the same restaurants, went to the same schools, etc. The era also had people speaking out against racism.

The BBC has a few links about a related art exhibition:


Some named examples (these are fairly exceptional examples... but it shows how some of the real stories are pretty amazing, and some of the prejudice people faced):


08-03-2010, 06:01 PM
It's a bit before your era, but the Georgian London page is a good resource: http://www.georgianlondon.com/?tag=blacklondon

Another interesting character is John Edmonstone (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edmonstone ), a freed slave who taught taxidermy in Edinburgh. Charles Darwin was one of his students.

08-03-2010, 06:37 PM
You might find this site http://www.blackpresence.co.uk/ of help - there is a lot there but I'm not sure about the history.

This http://vichist.blogspot.com/2009/04/it-is-commonly-believed-that-first.html is an interesting article about the first Jewish Member of Parliament.

Mary Seacole (18051–1881) was a famous war heroine of the Crimean War. Look her up - her achievements are eye opening! IRC she is buried in Highgate Cemetary and the West Indian Nurses Association hold a memorial for her there every year. She was greatly overshadowed by her contemporary, Flo Nightingale.