Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

African History, Black Britain, Slavery

UK court archives on African history

The central criminal court in London, the Old Bailey has published court records from 1674-1913 online. The database includes records on the lives of Africans and their descendent’s in London.

The defence of highwayman Joseph Guy in 1767 was that ‘There are a thousand black men in London besides me’. Unsurprisingly, most appear in criminal contexts. Poor Thomas Robinson (‘a Negro Black Boy ‘), for example, was sentenced to death for house-breaking and stealing ‘divers Goods’ in 1724. But others were respectable citizens. John Bardoe was bought as a slave in Lagos by a Genoese sea-captain and, when their ship docked in London in 1859, Bardoe apparently freed himself with the aid of a fellow countryman and began working for another Italian. Bardoe then fell ill and, in a feverish state, assumed he was being recaptured. He first barricaded himself into his room, then made a break for it and stabbed a policeman in a rooftop chase. An interesting story in itself – but the translator at the trial was ‘Miss. M. B. Servano, a native of Yorubah, and educated in England’. There are lots of interesting analytical details there: social networks among Africans in London, the continuation of slavery at sea, perceptions of freedom, and the education of African women. Bardoe was found to have acted in self-defence and judged not guilty.

The publication of the archives on line is probably one of the most exciting additions to the history of Black people in Britain. I did my own search on “Calabar” which revealed this case for what appears to be the murder at sea of a Black servant by a ships Captain.

Thanks to Emeka



  1. History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.

    Maya Angelou

    Beautys last blog post..The Greed Game? The smart game!

  2. Fascinating info. I do love history. Thanks for this.

    stephen Besss last blog post..Happy Birthday, Ratu