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Old January 19th, 2009, 08:30 AM   #1
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Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


Hello everyone!

I'm writing a research paper about the TV series Doctor Who and how it mirrors British society for my A-Levels. There's an episode set in Victorian England (more precisely in 1851), and the scene is practically full of black people. Well, the BBC has often been criticised for showing members of ethnic minorities on the screen regardless of the historic or cultural surroundings, and I'm trying to prove that this is actually the case here. The problem is just that I can't find any evidence, i.e. statistics or data about ethnic groups in the Victorian era. Do you have any ideas where I could start looking? I live in Germany, so the internet might be the best solution...

Thanks in advance!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:23 AM   #2
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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


London had a large black population since the 18th century descended from freed slaves and colonial subjects.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #3

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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


In 1800 there were an estimated 10,000 Negroes and 1,500 Lascars (Asians) living in the UK [pop around 20 Million], living mainly in the port cities, such as London, Liverpool, Bristol, etc.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 10:33 AM   #4
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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


Thanks for replying so fast! That's interesting to know, but do you maybe know a source for this that I could use in my paper?
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Old January 19th, 2009, 11:40 AM   #5
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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain




It is difficult to get exact figures for a Black population in Victorian Britain as the first census in 1841 did not ask for a persons skin colour of ethnic origin.

However, recent studies suggest that black residents in London, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Kent were commonplace. Visual records from the early 19th century show that black people were mainly employed as seafarers or servants. However, they were also prevalent in other occupations as churchmen, sportsmen, entertainers and professionals
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...torian-britain-

Racism in Britain is rooted in history. This article considers the ways in which Britishness was constructed around white visions of identity, rooted in imperial attitudes and assumptions. Although the dominant view is that the black presence in Britain was not significant before large-scale immigration after the Second World War, this article sheds light on the rich and varied nature of black people's experiences in Britain in the nineteenth century
http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:yvRo2nUv-usJ:centres.exeter.ac.uk/historyresource/journal5/Sherwood.rtf+black+population+of+victorian+london& hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=45&gl=uk

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913
Could be of help, but great in its self

By the end of the American War in 1783 there was a population of between 5,000 and 10,000 black men and women living in the capital, a central ingredient to the ragout of cultures and lives that made this a world city. From its high-point at the end of the eighteenth century the West Indian and African communities of London went into relative decline. Following the abolition of the slave trade and a generation later, of slavery itself within the British Empire, there remained fewer new recruits to this population. Nevertheless, London remained the centre of a worldwide empire that both attracted black men and women from the colonies and ensured the city would form the nexus for an evolving anti-imperialist politics.
In the nineteenth century, as the overall size of the black community declined, a higher proportion came to be associated with the port and employment as seamen, though a small number of black men and women continued to be found in other trades.
http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Black.jsp
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Old January 19th, 2009, 02:24 PM   #6

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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


Hi, good topic, here's a few pointers...

"People of African and Asian origin have lived in Britain for at least two millennia. They arrived here many hundreds of years before the massive forced migrations sparked by the slave trade and the British colonisation of India. "

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/p...ntro/intro.htm
http://www.bhc.100bmol.co.uk/history_facts.htm
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_British"]Black British - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
http://www.workersliberty.org/node/5912
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/BlackPeople.htm
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Old January 19th, 2009, 03:45 PM   #7

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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


Quote:
People of African and Asian origin have lived in Britain for at least two millennia. They arrived here many hundreds of years before the massive forced migrations sparked by the slave trade and the British colonisation of India.
This is extremely hard to prove. The justification for early migration to the Uk is dubious, at best: that the Romans employed blacks and Asians in their legions, usually as Federates. North Africans, probably, but the sheer scarcity of mention of black people in British records pre slavery would indicate that there were not many at all- and given that even after 50+ years of black and Asian immigration, and the strong feeling it causes even now, it is unlikely that blacks or Asians would be treated any better, much less integrated into society.

England was not the main market for slaves to be brought to: most ended up in the West Indies, America and other colonies. My grandmother, who was born and brought up in industrial Lancashire, said that no-one she knew- including herself- had ever seen a black man until the American G.Is arrived at a local airbase during WW2!

Nothing is more insidous that attempting to push the idea of "Multiculturalism" backward. It was highly unlikely that blacks or Asians would be any better treated, or less likely to be discouraged from integration, than they are today. Even America treated (and treats) its black people differently, so what hope would there be for, say, a Victorian black? Florence Nightingale refused Mary Seacole a job, largely because she was black, (and class snobbery, which is an element of racism).

The BBC in particular has other agendas: it does much the same with women, portraying the role a tiny few played as absolutely the norm in the past. Attempting to show that the past was much like today is insulting, counter productive, and obviously inaccurate. Blacks and Asians did not have an easy time even during the 50's, 60's and 70's: I knew one poor Asian kid who had to change his surname on account of the bullying he got. This should not be forgotten, and the BBC belittle blacks by pretending that racism is dead when it suits them.

And don't forget, there are a small but voluble number of black organisations who claim all kinds of things. Such as the Ancient Egyptians were black, Hannibal was black etc. These find their way into the Politically Correct brigade's ideas all too easily.

As an aside, take a look at children's posters and literature in schools. They do their best to portray the UK as 1/3 white, 1/3 Asian and 1/3 black. Strangely, Far Eastern Asians are hardly represented. The same agenda is at work, and I'm all for wanting a better world, but dreams are one thing, accuracy is another!
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:52 PM   #8

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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


Yes I agree about the accuracy in general, but that said, I'm sure that not all or even most organisations state that the past was like today, merely that there WAS non-white people in everyday life- not necessarily as slaves etc. But I don't like the projected "white" view of history either, which isn't accurate due to it's own airbrushing of the past when it suits.

The small black 'communities' -or sporadic people- over the centuries existed in the port areas (ie. Bristol, London, Liverpool, Cardiff)

For some people and political persuasions, not liking something doesn't make it so, nor does it make it plentiful or regular. Just because some things are recorded in literature and reliable historical text doesn't make them revisionism or PC, just airbrushed-out record from a mainstream historical system.

There are some historical paintings and illustrations that depict non-white people in non-subservient roles, ie in the 18thC Dr. Johnson employed- then later cared for and sponsored and paid for his education and well-being as a free man- a black youth.

That wasn't a lone case. There were many (no, not plethoras) of free black men that had businesses and pubs in 18th England, and the Chartism movements had many.

Before then (1600?), Queen Elizabeth aimed to pass a law that attempted to reduce the number of 'negroes' in (London?) as they were numerous, though she died before this was actioned. These must have been slave descendents.

Even further back there were black Roman soldiers stationed on Hadrians Wall (Burgh-on-Sands)
http://www.channel4.com/history/micr...ymap/arch.html
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Old January 20th, 2009, 02:20 AM   #9

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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironaxe View Post

Before then (1600?), Queen Elizabeth aimed to pass a law that attempted to reduce the number of 'negroes' in (London?) as they were numerous, though she died before this was actioned. These must have been slave descendents.
Or actual slaves? I don't recall coming across this before, but the English were extremely 'racist' at this point in time; there are records of frequent attacks on foreigners, or people even looking like foreigners.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 07:53 AM   #10

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Re: Percentage of blacks in Victorian Britain


I agree that the existing "whitecentric" view of history is plainly not 100% accurate, but what the BBC and other organisations are hellbent on is portraying blacks and other non-white ethnic minorities as being viewed by all and sundry as they are today: in a recent version of Oliver Twist, Nancy was played by a black actress- surely Dickens would have said if she was black? Whilst they're at it, why not make Fagin Liverpudlian, rather than Jewish? It's an insiduous practice that (a) is extremely inaccurate and (b) attempts to rewrite history by pretending that mass immigration has always gone on, and that people in the past did not bat an eyelid at blacks or whatever. Whereas, as Belisarius says, the English were extremely racist at that point, and my experience, remained that way, to greater and lesser degrees, until recently- and even now, there's plenty of racism. This dismisses black history: there'd BE no black history, were it not for racism: just history.

Black people in most of the country were pretty much absent, or kept themselves to themselves. As I said, my grandmother had never seen a black man until the Americans arrived during WW2. She was born and brought up in a northern industrial town, and if it was the case there, then I doubt that blacks were in the countryside.

I'm not at all offended by the idea that we had a sizeable black population in the past- I just doubt it, given what we know about the rest of the British population, the fact that Political Correctness has never let facts or common sense stand in its way, and also PC attempts to do the same with other matters, such as women's roles in the past. With an equal amount in validity- i.e. very little. An example:

A children's book I saw recently asked the question "why not ask your grandmother [my italics] what she did in the war? She may have been a pilot".

This exemplifies this attitude and attempts to portray the past as if it's never been. From a tiny element of truth- yes, there were women pilots- even Hurricane and Spitfire pilots, but they did not fly them into combat, they usually delivered them. Their numbers were just a few. But the child's question implies that women flew aircraft along with men, and does not explain that women did not fly fighters in the RAF. From a sprinkling of fact to a blown up, inaccurate distortion, a fallacy. It's an inaccurate as showing a history of Chaka Zulu, with a fair sprinkling of white Zulu warriors. Not that there's much chance of that happening....

I suspect, that even where there were "communities" of black people, they certainly would have had a hard time from the non black inhabitants. Black people almost certainly have not forgotten that; neither should non- blacks.
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