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AFRICA. 1678:



This is not Africa but a 17th century picture of a servant boy redrawn by N.York


I cannot remember the African name I had at birth.


about 12

Place of Birth

West Africa




a servant in a London house

Place living now

London via the West Indies ( the Caribbean )


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Good Stuff : visiting beautiful places in London & seeing the entertainments & fireworks

Bad Stuff : Being taken away from his home and family in Africa and sold as a slave.

Documents Hogarth painting from the series " Marriage a la Mode " 1745, showing a Black servant serving chocolate and a Black child page.

Runaway advertisement from a London newspaper for the boy Africa 1678.

Africa was a uniformed servant in a London house at a time when it was very fashionable to have a young Black slave as a servant. We know he ran away because his description was in the London paper. Whether he was recaptured we do not know.

Teachers notes

We know almost nothing about this boy. The advertisement of his disappearance was printed in a London newspaper of 1678. He had been living in Covent Garden with his master Arnold Pigeon, a barber, before he ran away. It is clear that he was a house servant (he is described as wearing a livery coat the colours of which would have linked him to a particular household.) It is very likely that he was taken from the West coast of Africa to the Caribbean, sold there and then taken to London. His life as a servant or page boy in London would have been less physically hard than a life spent cutting sugar in the plantations in the West Indies. However he was still not free and would have had to rely on his master in London for food and shelter and indeed everything. It was always possible too that he would be sold again and then sent to work in a plantation.

It would not be until 1807 that the British abolished the slave trade, nearly another one hundred and fifty years after the boy Africa was in London.

The reward for Africa's capture was 20 shillings, equivalent in those days to two months wages for a servant.

Although we do not know what happened to the boy Africa it is likely that he was recaptured. A young Black boy alone in a city would not have stood much chance of hiding from his searchers. However there were instances of Black slaves escaping to "safe houses" throughout the time of slavery such as one known as " Jerusalem " in East London.

www.Lambethlandmark.com : search word : People Minorities

Weblinks : www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism Liverpool Maritime Museum, International Museum of Slavery www.antislavery.org an organisation tackling issues round modern day slavery and child labour

'Jupiter Williams' by S.I. Martin, 2007. The story of an African boy in London in 1800.

Global links : West Africa, Caribbean, London