Some immigrants to our area

Posted in Local History at 7:24 pm by henrysgauntlet

Immigration is a recurrent issue of political concern to modern governments. Widely differing views are held on how to tackle the question depending on the standpoint of those worried by the phenomenon. But immigration is not a new issue, whether it originates from other parts of this country or, indeed, from other parts of the world. Our parish registers, which for several centuries recorded births, marriages and deaths, provide ample evidence of this.

 At Vange, in February, 1711-12, John Tulopp, “a black”, was baptised; in January, 1721-22, a fourteen year old black boy called Joseph, who was servant to Nathaniel Grantham, was similarly baptised in West Thurrock’s parish church. The case of the black man baptised in Grays in September, 1734 was more unusual because we know that he was about twenty five years of age and came from Guinea, presumably on the west coast of Africa rather than from further east. Captain Towers’s negro servant, Francis Spenders, had three prominent local figures as his godparents when he was baptised at Pitsea in August, 1745. And “John, a blackamoor, servant to Mr Phillips, Brewer, at Ratcliffe Cross, London”, who was baptised in Fobbing in July, 1753, must have had some long-standing local connection: he was given the surname “Stanford”.

These examples remind us of the importance of this area as a crossroads for travellers seeking to  cross the Thames to and from Kent and as a thoroughfare for merchants and others sailing to and from London. These factors endure as, indeed, does immigration itself. 

Author  –  Christopher Thompson



  1. Ed said,

    While researching my family tree on the other side of the Thames in Greenhithe and Stone in Kent the Parish records for Swanscombe parish often record the burials of unknown individuals pulled drowned from the Thames including several black individuals. How or why they ended up dead and dumped in the Thames is open to speculation but does indicate a sizeable black african community in Britain for hundreds of years. As more and more parish records are being trnscribed and put online one wonders what further information will be uncovered..

  2. Christopher Thompson said,

    It is doubtful whether England or Britain had a “sizeable black african community” before 1800. By 1900, this was true for some parts of Liverpool, Cardiff and London.

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