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Samuel Avebury

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Samuel My Mulatto Boy

 

Avebury Manor has had quite an interesting past, the house was built sometime between 1555 and 1580 by William Dunch and over the next 450 years it was lived in by numerous people including one Samuel Avebury. Samuel was servant to Lieutenant General Sir Adam Williamson KB, a soldier who had spent most of his career in the North Americas and the Caribbean.

Williamson had had a distinguished career taking part in both the French Indian War and the American Revolutionary War, his success in various battles and campaigns led to his promotions and to his appointment as Governor of Jamaica and St. Domingo.

Avebury Manor

In 1771 Williamson married Ann Jones niece of Arthur Jones of Avebury Manor, and in 1789 it was Ann who inherited the manor from her uncle. In 1790 Williamson travelled to Jamaica to take up his new appointment, leaving Ann behind at Avebury to run the estate with her steward. In the archives there are various letters and documents which relate to the Williamson family, Avebury Manor and Jamaica.

Jamaica

Ann joined her husband in Jamaica but sadly died in 1794 of yellow fever and was buried in St Catherine’s Cathedral, Spanish Town.
Samuel was a Jamaican mulatto, born in 1760; his mother was a black slave and his father a white slave owner or overseer. It is possible that Sir Adam Williamson was either given or purchased Samuel as a servant when he arrived in Jamaica. 
Mulatto slaves were preferred as household servants because of their lighter coloured skin. These slaves tended to have a better life than those working in the fields. They were better clothed, either with family cast offs or in livery depending on their owner’s station in life. Those who performed duties as personal servants would build a close relationship with their master, which could lead to their freedom and monetary rewards.

Samuel was the only slave that Williamson owned and because he held an important role in society Samuel would have presumably benefitted from his master’s position. Williamson enjoyed entertaining and held lavish parties which made him very popular among the plantation owners; Samuel must have been present at these events in his role as a servant. The Oracle and Public Advertiser of May 26, 1797 stated that from September 1793 to February 1796, Williamson incurred expenses of £2,300,000 (equivalent to £193,430,000 using the retail price index in 2010) whilst in Jamaica and St. Domingo (Haiti).

On the April 21, 1795 there was a ceremony to invest Williamson with the order of the Bath, important dignitaries from England presided over the ceremony, was Samuel there as an attendant?

On May 9, 1795 Williamson and Samuel left Port Royal Harbour for St. Domingo aboard HMS Iphigeni, it was reported in the Telegraph dated Tuesday July 7, 1795 that while on route their convoy was attacked by four French privateers resulting in the loss of several ships; however they eventually arrived in Port-au-Prince.

St. Domingo

Williamson found his new role as Governor of St. Domingo very different from Jamaica where the position of slave and slave owner was very clear. St. Domingo had been a French colony it had the largest population of free gens de couleur in the Caribbean. They were the wealthiest, many were mulattoes descended from women slaves and French colonists; and they owned one-third of the plantation property and a quarter of the slaves. The slave population was unstable and there were constant outbreaks of violence. During Williamson’s term of office he lost a large number of soldiers to fighting and disease.

What would life have been like for Samuel? Was there a temptation to join the riotous slaves? Or did he feel that he would have a better life with Williamson? The decision was made when according to the Star dated February 22, 1796, that on December 12, 1795 it was announced that Williamson would be replaced by General Forbes as Governor of St. Domingo. Williamson and Samuel left Port-au-Prince aboard HMS Regulus bound for England.

England

On April 29, 1796 Williamson was presented to King George III at St. James Palace and had a private audience with him. This was reported in the True Briton dated April 30, 1796 and the Evening Mail dated April 29, - May 2, 1796. While Williamson attended various parties, some in his honour he lived at his house at No 13 Lower Grosvenor Street, Grosvenor Square London. Samuel’s new life in London would be very different from the West Indies. He would have experienced a vast change in temperature, in April 1798 it was 10.4c compared to 29c during the day and 22c at night in Jamaica.

Williamson eventually left London to return to Avebury Manor and it was here that he made his will on the September 12, 1798. He mentions Samuel by name:

“….I give to Sam my Mulatto Boy his freedom and five pounds and also one   annuity or clear yearly sum of five pounds for and during the term of his natural life…”

Williamson also left a sum of ten pounds and an annuity of ten pounds to “Elizabeth Pearce, a Black, formerly a servant in the family.”

A month later the Bell Weekly Messenger dated Sunday October 28, 1798 reported Williamson’s death:

“On Sunday last, at Avebury house, Wilts, Lieut. Gen. Sir Adam Williamson, K.B. and Colonel of his Majesty’s 72nd regiment of foot. His death was occasioned by a violent fall, which fractured two of his ribs, he lingered from Friday till Sunday, and then expired."

In the Parish register for Avebury it is recorded that:

“Samuel Avebury A Mulatto Lad Brought from Jamaica to England by Sir Adam Williamson KB was Christened December 2nd 1798 by the Reverend Mr Lucas he is supposed to be About Seventeen years of Age.”

Then Samuel disappears from the Wiltshire records with his freedom and his five pounds worth £5,190.00 using average earning of today.

Sources:
The Age of Nelson
The National Archives
Wiltshire and Swindon Archive Service, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

Author: J Mills, Bath Spa University 

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Black History Month at Wembley Stadium

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On Saturday October 1st 2011 West Wilts Community Club and SEEME hosted a trip to take part in the 1st Black History Month Live event at Wembley. Attendees included members of our sister club North Wilts Community Club & also members of the wider community.

Black History Month Live featured the very charismatic & entertaining, Mr Reggae Reggae sauce Levi Roots, cultural workshops & seminars, along with performances from the London Community Gospel Choir, cultural Guest Speakers, Children’s workshops & a book zone to purchase cultural books and listen to speakers, among the many features there was a wonderful stall selling hair care products which also provided workshops demonstarting how to care for Afro hair. Of course no such event would be complete without Jamaican cuisine, to tempt us there was a variety of stalls offering a delicious array of tasty treats to sample or purchase.

"What an enjoyable day at the 1st Black History Live event. There were many informative stalls from sports to clothes, hair advice & products, fire service, police association, universities & cultural heritage."

Surprisingly for that time of year it was a glorious sunny day as we travelled down to London, this made the prospect of the event even more exciting. Once inside the stadium we were met with many activities & information to whet the appetite.

"It was an exceptionally hot day and there were many different stalls that catered for every interest. There was also a variety of entertainment. The highlight of my day was the stand that helped you to trace your roots and family tree. I always thought that this would be impossible for me to ever be able to do."

An important feature of the event which turned out to be very popular was the Health Corner, trained professionals were on hand to take all your health checks, explain any steps required to improve health, then package them in easy to read information for you to take away & action.

"The highlight of the day for me was the health awareness section, I learned valuable information which was provided in detailed but easy to understand language, the team has motivated me to change my lifestyle for better wellbeing. It was especially wonderful to see a wide range of cultures & age ranges at this event. Levi Roots was both entertaining & inspiring."

Many members had come to see the highly emotive & engaging London Gospel Community Choir who enthralled us with their wonderful renditions of songs when they took to the stage.

"Very good, I enjoyed the day especially the gospel choir and the dancing"

Everyone enjoyed the day and took away lots of new information, bargains, ate great food as well as having the opportunity to socialise with new people. A great day!

"It was a good day throughout, one word fantastic, very much enjoyed, looking forward to the next trip if there is one"

"Today was amazing, it was nice to see black people come together and sharing each other’s cultures, enjoyed the health tips, food & entertainment
Thank you so much for organising such a great day out, the family had a wonderful day out, Thank You"

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Useful links

Written by Terry Bracher. Posted in Joomla!

Some websites you may wish to visit for further information when researching Black History

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre

www.wshc.eu

The National Archives

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

National Archives online exhibitions and content:

www.movinghere.org.uk  

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/blackhistory/

Black and Asian Studies Association

www.blackandasianstudies.org

Black Cultural Archives

www.bcaheritage.org.uk

Other national, regional and other county informaton

Black Presence in Britain

www.blackpresence.co.uk

100 Great Black Britons

www.100greatblackbritons.com

Northamptonshire Black History Association

www.northants-black-history.org.uk

Birmingham - Connecting Histories

www.connectinghistories.org.uk

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West Wiltshire Community Club

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The club began life in 1962 as the West Indian Sports and Social Club.  It was established through the initiative of people who had come to Britain in the 1950’s and 60’s from the Caribbean following a recruitment drive led by the British government.

 West Wiltshire Community Club Carers Event
The club in its present form was started in the 1990’s; it has around 15 signed-up members and has an elected chairperson, secretary and treasurer as well as an elected management committee.  The club holds a weekly coffee morning and occasionally hosts special events including dinners and cultural celebratory events i.e. Black History Month. An Annual General Meeting is held every November.

West Wiltshire Community Club Lunch
Experiences and backgrounds of the group vary from retired professionals, former school governors, factory workers and those with multiple support needs.  Members have many skills which they like to share i.e. cooking and arts and crafts. Members feel that the club plays an important role within their lives in the form of social interaction, practical support, and advocacy.

West Wiltshire Community Club Pamper Session

The club's aims are:

  • To provide regular sessions for people from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds to socialise together in a warm and friendly environment.
  • To act as a forum for people with concerns over racial and other discriminatory issues within the community.
  • To provide support, advocacy and information sessions with the purpose of raising awareness and encouraging better access to and use of local services.
  • To act as a support network for those in greatest need and provide friendship and support to the wider community in the most appropriate method.
  • To provide a range of activities, projects and events to promote cultural, health, social and wellbeing awareness.

West Wiltshire Community Club meet the Fire Service 

All the members have firm roots in Wiltshire and have raised their families here. The club plays an important role giving members the opportunity to participate in all forms of community life from having a voice about local services to bringing a cultural element when participating in local events.

West Wiltshire Community Club Tai Chi Session
West Wilts Community Club has an inclusive policy and we are always keen to recruit new members. We meet each Thursday from 10.30-1pm. Please feel free to join us for coffee & cake, a warm welcome waits. We meet at The Guide Hut, Town Park, Park Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AL


If you live in the North of the county why not visit our sister club North Wilts Coffee club who meet each Friday from 10.30-12.30 at The Jubilee House in the centre of Chippenham.

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Archive

Written by Terry Bracher. Posted in Joomla!

Visit this area of our website to view digital archives of our news items, events and activities.

Previous events and activities:

SEEME and community visit to Black History Month at Wembley Stadium

If you are looking for information on historical archives on the presence of BME individuals and organisations throughout Wiltshire, contact or visit Wiltshire and Swindon Archives  at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   www.wshc.eu . Summary list from the archive service is on the Wiltshire and Swindon history website, click here to download.

 

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SEEME Wiltshire
c/o Wiltshire and Swindon Archives
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Cocklebury Road
Wiltshire
SN15 3QN

Telephone: 01249 705515
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