Ignatius Sancho

Montague House Plaque

Greenwich Park, London, South West Wall – Tube: North Greenwich (Jubilee Line)

Ignatius Sancho’s Residence and Grocers

Foreign and Common Wealth Office, King Charles Street, London – Tube: Westminster (Circle, District and Jubilee)

Plaque showing the residence of Ignatius Sancho who owned a grocers nearby

Ignatius Sancho a composer, actor and writer is best known for becoming the first black Briton to vote in parliamentary elections, twice in 1774 and in 1780. A friend and neighbour of another famous African abolitionist Ottobah Cugoano, Sancho was born on a slave ship, the precise location unknown, after the death of his mother and suicide of his father, his owner rather than enslave him, brought him to London where he would eventually become a servant to the Duke of Montagu.

Two years after the death of Sancho in 1782, letters from Sancho were published, which contained numerous quotes and statements relating to Sancho’s strong dislike to the Slave Trade which in turn helped further the Abolition campaigns support. The following is an excerpt from a letter sent by Sancho to Jack Wingrave dated at 1778 where sancho unleashes a particularly scathing attack on the Empire and the Slave Trade.

“In Africa, the poor wretched natives – blessed with the most fertile and luxuriant soil – are rendered so much the more miserable for what Providence meant as a blessing: – the Christians’ abominable traffic for

Plaque on the final remaining wall of Montague House where Sancho worked as a butler.

slaves – and the horrid cruelty and treachery of the petty Kings – encouraged by their Christian customers – who carry them strong liquors – to enflame their national madness – and powder – and bad fire-arms – to furnish them with the hellish means of killing and kidnapping.”

There are two memorials to be found in London relating to key sites where Sancho lived and worked. The first is in Greenwich on the last remaining wall of what used to be Montague House, now located in the south west corner of Greenwich park where Sancho worked as a Servant to the Duchess. The second plaque can be found at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office situated on King Charles Street in Westminster, close to the plaque is where Sancho lived and owned a grocers.

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