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Berkshire Family Historian
June 2003

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Berkshire Family Historian
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Letter to the Editor

Valerie Batt-Rawden Berkshire

Black Britons

I for one took exception to the tone of the letter concerning black Britons from Mrs. Harvey in the last edition of the journal. As a result of the slave trade there were many black servants in England during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While in Britain they were free, if they returned to America they would have immediately lost their ‘free’ status. Many high ranking families employed a black servant as a status symbol, Queen Victoria herself did although hers were mainly from India.

There are many portraits showing black servants and even include women known to be beloved mistresses of the man who could not marry her for reasons of social status. It would have been surprising if they, finding themselves free and possibly alone in a white household, did not cohabit and even marry with their counterparts. This must have been the case when quite recently an apparently white couple produced twins, one white and one black. This subject seems very relevant to genealogy. Until research is carried out we can none of us be sure that our ancestry does not include any of the black Britons.

It is only recently that black genealogy as well as illegitimacy has not been considered shameful. I think Mrs. Harvey should think again.

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Berkshire Family History Society 2003

created 29th May 2003