- Nov 2011
- The Dustbin, formerly, Garden of England
Shivan--have you any source material to support your claim?While doing my research into why black Londoners did not embrace the Sierra Leone Resettlement Scheme the way Black Pioneers from the US and Canada did, I discovered quite a lot of articles in newspapers back in the 1780s which led me to the conclusion that the main deciding factor in black Londoners turning their back on this Scheme was the advice of Lord George Gordon himself....
A lot of black men in London at the time were sailors, and this profession strongly supported Gordon during the Gordon riots. So, when black men were being persuaded to leave the streets of London to start a new African colony, a lot of them sought the advice of Gordon, according to these newspapers, and Gordon strongly advised against it, because of his strong anti-colonial and anti-slavery stance. As a result, even though bout 700 black Londoners had registered for the Scheme, that number dramatically fell to little more than 400.
First of all 1780 was at the height of the American War and one of the main years of the "hot press". Hardly an able-bodied sailor could be found in any town or village within ten miles of the coast. There was ABSOLUTELY no such thing as shore leave during this period.
Secondly, the big numbers of blacks did not arrive in Britain until after the Treaty of Paris--still some three years hence.
While the records show that three "blacks" were tried and sentenced to hang out of 450 arrested--none were sailors, they were John Glover, Benjamin Bowsey and Charlotte Gardiner. However, only Gardiner was executed. (She had been one of 20 women tried.) Glover’s master, ‘Counsellor’ John Philips, thought enough of his servant to give evidence on his behalf at the trial on 11 July, and succeeded in having him reprieved and given “his Majesty’s pardon, on condition of absenting himself from this kingdom for three years”. Benjamin Bowsey appealed to two of his ex-employers, Lord Earlsbury and General Honeywood, as well as to Alderman Woolridge, who interviewed him and enlisted the help of the Lord Mayor. On 9 August it was announced that “his Majesty has been pleased to respite the execution of Benjamin Bowsey... until further signification of his Majesty’s Pleasure”.