Ignatius Sancho, 1729-80

The frontispiece to 'Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho: An African, to which are Prefixed, Memoirs of his Life'. The engraving of Ignatius Sancho is after a portrait by Thomas Gainsborough.

Ignatius Sancho (1729-80) was born on a slave ship in the Atlantic. Orphaned at the age of two, he was taken to Britain where he was given to three sisters in Greenwich. A chance meeting with the Duke of Montagu (1690-1749) changed the young Sancho’s life. Montagu was taken by the child’s intelligence, and encouraged his education. After Montagu’s death in 1749, Sancho persuaded his widow to take him away from his mistresses, and she hired him as a butler. With the support of the Montagu family, Sancho established a grocery in Westminster (ironically selling slave-produced commodities). His wealth and property secured him the vote. Sancho moved in, and corresponded with, a wide and influential social circle of nobles, actors, writers, artists and politicians. He was a supporter and patron of the arts, as well as being a composer in his own right. Sancho died in December 1780, and was the first African in Britain to receive an obituary.

Object Details

ID: ZBA2573
Collection: Special collections
Type: Print
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Bartolozzi, Francesco; Gainsborough, Thomas Nichols, J. Gainsborough, Thomas
Date made: 1781
People: Bartolozzi, Francesco; Nichols, J. Gainsborough, Thomas Ignatius Sancho
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Michael Graham-Stewart Slavery Collection. Acquired with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund
Measurements: Sheet: 128 mm x 97 mm; Image: 92 mm x 72 mm

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