Britain's Black Past

Episodes

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Dido Belle And Francis Barber20161011

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands and managed to free themselves. Others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become home.

The second week of programmes moves towards the 19th century and Abolition.

In the seventh programme of the series, Professor Gerzina explores the lives of two black people who lived in the higher echelons of English society, in households which were not their own - Dido Belle at Kenwood, and Dr Johnson's servant Francis Barber. They were not quite servants but not quite family. What were their options in life?

With Professor Joan Anim-Addo and Dr Michael Bundock, biographer of Francis Barber.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black England: Life before Emancipation and Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.

Recorded on location in Kenwood House and in Dr Johnson's House.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Reader: Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black in England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and also presents book programmes on NPR.

In the seventh programme of the series, Professor Gerzina explores the lives of two black people who lived in the higher echelons of English society, in households which were not their own - Dido Belle at Kenwood, and Dr Johnson's servant Francis Barber. They were not quite servants, but not quite family. What were their options in life?

Recorded on location in Kenwood House and in Dr Johnson's House

Reader: Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

The second week of programmes moves towards the 19th century and Abolition.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black in England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and also presents book programmes on NPR.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands and managed to free themselves. Others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become home.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black England: Life before Emancipation and Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Ignatius Sancho20161004

Gretchen Gerzina explores the life of a butler who rose to the top of 18th century society

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Over two weeks, Professor Gerzina travels across Britain and talks to historians, unearthing new evidence about Britain's black past. From a country estate in Chepstow, via the docks of Liverpool, to grand houses in London and Bristol, she evokes the daily texture of black people's lives, using first-hand accounts from letters and autobiographies.

In the second programme in the series, Professor Gerzina explores the life of the butler Ignatius Sancho, who rose to the top of fashionable society.

With historians Professor Brycchan Carey and novelist Steve Martin.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Paterson Joseph, Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Joseph Knight20161010

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

The second week of programmes moves towards the 19th century and Abolition.

In this sixth episode, Professor Gerzina travels to Glasgow to meet a team of historians who are just beginning to uncover the lives of runaway slaves in Scotland. One enslaved man, Joseph Knight, took the law into his own hands, brought his owner to court, and outlawed slavery in Scotland for ever.

With Professor Simon Newman, Dr Stephen Mullen and Dr Nelson Mundell.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black in England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and also presents book programmes on NPR.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Jonathan Keeble, Paterson Joseph, Kathy Tyson

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Mary Prince20161012

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands and managed to free themselves. Others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

The second week of programmes moves towards the 19th century and Abolition.

In this eighth episode, Professor Gerzina explores the moving story of Mary Prince. Her first-hand narrative of her life in slavery is the only account we have by a British woman. But it caused a scandal.

With Andrea Stuart and Professor Alison Donnell.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and also presents book programmes on NPR.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Kathy Tyson and Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Nathaniel Wells20161014

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands and managed to free themselves. Others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

In the final programme of the series, Professor Gerzina discovers an unknown and challenging story. Nathaniel Wells was the son of a plantation owner and an enslaved woman and he inherited a vast fortune from his father. He set himself up in a country estate in Chepstow and became the first black High Sheriff in Britain but continued to run his father's plantations in the West Indies where enslaved people were treated appallingly.

Recorded on location at the Piercefield Estate in Chepstow. With Anne Rainsbury, Curator of the Chepstow Museum.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Jonathan Keeble, Kathy Tyson, James Murray

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Olaudah Equiano20161007

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Over two weeks, Professor Gerzina travels across Britain and talks to historians, unearthing new evidence about Britain's black past. From a country estate in Chepstow, via the docks of Liverpool, to grand houses in London and Bristol, she evokes the daily texture of black people's lives, using first-hand accounts from letters and autobiographies.

In the fifth programme of the series, Professor Gerzina explores the life of the best-known black person in 18th century Britain, Olaudah Equiano. A former sailor and slave, he was a world traveller who bought his own freedom. He ultimately arrived at the heart of British power, even visiting the Queen.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black in England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.

With historians Professor Vincent Carretta and Professor James Walvin.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Paterson Joseph, Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Omnibus 120161007

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Over two weeks, Professor Gerzina travels across Britain and talks to historians, unearthing new evidence about Britain's black past. From a country estate in Chepstow, via the docks of Liverpool, to grand houses in London and Bristol, she evokes the daily texture of black people's lives, using first-hand accounts from letters and autobiographies.

The first week of the series focuses on the 18th century, with the lives of servants, sailors, and two extraordinary figures who made it to the top of English society - the butler Ignatius Sancho and the former sailor Olaudah Equiano.

Readers: Paterson Joseph, Jonathan Keeble, Kathy Tyson.

With music by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Omnibus 220161014

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow, Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands and managed to free themselves. Others advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become home.

Professor Gerzina hears about new research into the lives of runaway slaves in Scotland and discovers how one man took the law into his own hands and ended slavery in Scotland for ever. She goes on to explore the moving story of Mary Prince, whose first-hand narrative of her life in slavery is the only account we have by a British woman.

There is also the story of a forgotten revolutionary, Robert Wedderburn, and compares the lives of two black people who lived in the higher echelons of English society, in households which were not their own.

The programme ends with the troubling story of Nathaniel Wells, the son of an enslaved mother and plantation owner.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black England: Life before Emancipation and Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and.

Readers: Paterson Joseph, Jonathan Keeble, Kathy Tyson, James Murray.

With music by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Pero Jones And Fanny Coker20161005

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Over two weeks, Professor Gerzina travels across Britain and talks to historians, unearthing new evidence about Britain's black past. From a country estate in Chepstow, via the docks of Liverpool, to grand houses in London and Bristol, she evokes the daily texture of black people's lives, using first-hand accounts from letters and autobiographies.

In the third programme in the series, Gretchen Gerzina explores the story of two enslaved people who were brought from the West Indies to Bristol and lived there for the rest of their lives. Recorded on location in the Georgian House Museum in Bristol.

With historians Professor Madge Dresser and Dr Christine Eickelman.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Cathy Tyson, Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Robert Wedderburn20161013

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands and managed to free themselves. Others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

The second week of programmes moves towards the 19th century and Abolition.

In this ninth episode, Professor Gerzina discovers the story of Robert Wedderburn, the son of a plantation owner and an enslaved woman. His radical views became so challenging to the British establishment that he was imprisoned several times for sedition and blasphemy.

With Professor Alan Rice, Professor Joan Anim-Addo and novelist Steve Martin.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of Black England: Life before Emancipation. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts and also presents book programmes on NPR.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Reader: Paterson Joseph

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Sailors20161006

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Over two weeks, Professor Gerzina travels across Britain and talks to historians, unearthing new evidence about Britain's black past. From a country estate in Chepstow, via the docks of Liverpool, to grand houses in London and Bristol, she evokes the daily texture of black people's lives, using first-hand accounts from letters and autobiographies.

In the fourth programme in the series, Professor Gerzina travels to Liverpool to explore the lives of black sailors. Life in the British Navy brought decent pay and promotion prospects - it could be a 'taxi service to freedom' for runaway slaves. But black sailors were always in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery.

Presenter Gretchen Gerzina is the author of 'Black in England: Life before Emancipation'. She is Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.

With historians Dr Ray Costello and Professor Charles Foy.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Paterson Joseph, Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

The Invisible Presence20161003

Professor Gretchen Gerzina explores a largely unknown past - the lives of black people who settled in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

She reveals a startling paradox - although Britain was at the heart of a thriving slave trade, it was still possible for many black people to live here in freedom and prosperity. A few even made it to the very top of fashionable society.

But there were others who were brought over by slave-owners from the West Indies and who were never free, despite living for the rest of their lives in Glasgow or Bristol or London. Some took the law into their own hands, and managed to free themselves, others went further and advocated violent revolution. Free or unfree, they all saw Britain as a place of opportunity that could become a home.

Over two weeks, Professor Gerzina travels across Britain and talks to historians, unearthing new evidence about Britain's black past. From a country estate in Chepstow, via the docks of Liverpool, to grand houses in London and Bristol, she evokes the daily texture of black people's lives.

In the first programme in the series, Professor Gerzina travels to Sunderland Point to discover a remote grave in the corner of a windswept field - a memorial to a young black cabin boy, abandoned on the coast by his slave-owning master. This poignant story sparks questions about how we remember black figures from the past.

With Professor Alan Rice, novelist Steve Martin, historians Professor James Walvin and Dr Caroline Bressey of the Equiano Centre at University College London.

The music in this series is by the 18th century composer Ignatius Sancho, and performed by the Afro-American Chamber Music Society Orchestra.

Readers: Paterson Joseph, Jonathan Keeble

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.