First recorded black voter. First black man to have an obituary in the British press.
Charles Ignatius Sancho, African, Briton and Georgian celebrity, was a pioneer in many ways, and yet his legacy today doesn’t match the achievements in his remarkable life.
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The University of Greenwich is supporting the Sancho Memorial Committee to raise awareness of Sancho and to raise funds for a permanent memorial to him in Greenwich Park.
Sancho was born on a ship carrying enslaved Africans across the Atlantic in around 1729.
Following a meeting with the Duke of Montagu, through whom he learnt to read, Sancho fled slavery, becoming a butler to the Duchess of Montagu, and head of a large household close to Greenwich Park.
Sancho was a man of many talents – a writer, composer, shopkeeper, and social commentator and abolitionist. He composed 100 dances and minuets which were played by fashionable Londoners and wrote two plays and a book of composition.
Lord Paul Boateng, Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, chairs the committee established to honour the life and legacy of Sancho. He said: “I am delighted to chair an initiative that highlights Sancho’s significance to global history. This remarkable black musician, entrepreneur, and activist represents in his life and work the triumph of talent over adversity, and the special link between the UK, Africa, and its diaspora.”
The planned sculptured relief of Sancho, based on his portrait by Gainsborough, will be set above the existing plaque in Greenwich Park and unveiled next year at the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British empire.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, Professor Jane Harrington, added: “Sancho identified as an African Briton and yet his chapter in British history is often overlooked. The university is very pleased to support the establishment of a permanent memorial to Sancho in Greenwich Park which will be a fitting tribute to an incredible man.”