Friday, December 21, 2007

The unknown African buried in Bishop's Castle churchyard

There is always something of interest in the Shropshire Star.

English Heritage has awarded the headstone of an unknown African man at St John the Baptist Church, in Bishop’s Castle, a Grade II listing because of its “historical significance”. The paper goes on to say:

No firm details about the man are known - including his name - and he is listed as “native of Africa”. It is thought the man may have arrived in the town as a servant in a local country house.

But experts believe the elegant decoration and inscription on the headstone indicates he had achieved higher status when he died.

The inscription on the Bishop’s Castle headstone reads: “Here lieth the Body of I.D./A Native of Africa/who died in ths (sic) Town/Sept 9th 1801/God hath made of one Blood, all nations of Men. Act 17 ch. ver. 26″

2 comments:

Paul Hulbert said...

There's a well-known gravestone in the churchyard at Henbury, Bristol commemorating a black servantwm called Scipio Africanus, who dies in 1720 aged 18 - see http://www.discoveringbristol.org.uk/showNarrative.php?sit_id=1&narId=471&nacId=475 and click on the images to see just how elaborate the gravestone is.

Jonathan said...

That's very interesting, Paul, but perhaps less unexpected in a port like Bristol.

Even today, Bishop's Castle is the back of beyond.