Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) was said to have been born a slave on a ship crossing the Atlantic from Africa to the West Indies. Although this is now thought to be unlikely, his origins were African while his earliest memories were of Greenwich, near London, where he was forced to work as a child slave. He persuaded the powerful Montagu family to employ him as their butler, before retiring to run a grocery shop in Westminster. He composed music, appeared on the stage, and entertained many famous figures of literary and artistic London. The first African we know of to vote in a British election, he wrote a large number of letters which were collected and published in 1782, two years after his death. He was thought of in his age as "the extraordinary Negro", and to eighteenth-century opponents of the slave trade he became a symbol of the humanity of Africans. -- Ignatius Sancho: African Man of Letters by Brycchan Carey
Some of Sancho's letters include: Sancho's Correspondence with Laurence Sterne | Sancho's Eye-Witness Account of the 1780 Gordon Riots | A playful letter from Sancho about a friend's artwork | Sancho's views on empire and slavery | Two letters Sancho wrote to the newspapers in 1778
Three of Sancho's musical scores are collected here.
The portrait is by Gainsborough.