Google Doodle celebrates a British composer, actor, writer, and abolitionist Ignatius Sancho, the first person of African descent known to be given an obituary in the British press and the only Briton of African heritage known to have been qualified and voted in an 18th-century general election through property qualifications, on October 1, 2020.
Who was Ignatius Sancho?
Born as Charles Ignatius Sancho on a slave ship in the Middle Passage, Atlantic Ocean in Africa around 1729. He picked up popularity in his time as “the extraordinary Negro”, and to 18th-century British abolitionists, he became a symbol of the humanity of Africans and the immorality of the slave trade. The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African, edited and published two years after his demise, is one of the earliest accounts of African slavery written in English by a previous enslaved individual.
Ignatius Sancho grew up an orphan: Jekyll composes that his mom passed on when he was an infant, and his dad committed suicide instead of life in enslavement. Around the age of two, Sancho was taken to London, where he had to work as a slave for three sisters at a house in Greenwich.
During this time Ignatius Sancho met John Montagu, 2nd Duke of Montagu, who supported his education and gave him books to read. After the duke’s demise, Sancho fled from the house in Greenwich and persuaded the duke’s widow to employ him. Sancho would work in the Montagu family for the following 20 years, serving as Mary Montagu’s butler until the Duchess’ demise in 1751, and afterward as valet to George Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu, until 1773.
In 1758, Ignatius Sancho wedded Anne Osborne, a West Indian woman with whom he had seven children. After Sancho left the Montagu household, the couple opened a supermarket in Westminster, where Sancho, by then a notable cultural figure, kept up an active social and literary life until his demise in 1780.
As a financially independent male householder, Ignatius Sancho got qualified to vote and did as such in 1774 and again just before his death in 1780. He was the first person of African descent to vote in a British general election. He is likewise the first known individual of African descent to have a tribute published in British newspapers.
Ignatius Sancho was an energetic reader and sought after a self-trained education, taking full advantage of the libraries at the Montagu house, as well as its steady stream of highly cultured guests. At the point when Thomas Gainsborough visited to paint the representation of the Duchess of Montagu, he additionally had Sancho sit for a picture. As well as showing up on the stage, Sancho was especially profitable as a composer of music. He published four collections of treatise and a composition entitled A Theory of Music.
While working for the Montagus, Ignatius Sancho additionally settled a wide network of journalists. He would eventually be most popular as an epistolary author, penning accounts and investigates of 18th-century culture and politics.
Ignatius Sancho died from the impacts of gout on 14 December 1780 and was buried in the churchyard of St Margaret’s, Westminster.
Simply after his death did Sancho’s letters arrive at an enormous public readership when they were gathered and published in 1782 as The Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African. The two-volume collection sold well and delivered to a wide crowd Sancho’s appearance on slavery and empire, as well as his own vexed experiences as a highly educated individual of African starting point living in London towards the finish of the 18th century.
On October 1, 2020, Google Doodle, represented by UK-based visitor artist Kingsley Nebechi, observes Ignatius Sancho to honor the beginning of the UK’s Black History Month.