Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bernard Gordillo: 'The Obituary of Ignatius Sancho' was 'the first in Britain to mark the death of a black man'

[Ignatius Sancho: An African Man of Letters; Reyahn King et al.; National Portrait Gallery of the U.K. (1997)]

Bernard Gordillo.com
October 2010
“Brief and unassuming, Ignatius Sancho’s obituary in The Gentleman’s magazine (London, 1780) tells us very little about a man who accomplished much. “In Charles-str. Westminster, Mister Ignatius Sancho, grocer and oilman ; a character immortalized by the epistolary correspondence of Sterne.'

“The obituary itself is unprecedented—it’s the first in Britain to mark the death of a black man—and one of nearly thirty obituaries in the December issue of the magazine which listed 'considerable Persons' who were important (or wealthy) enough to be mentioned.

“Sancho is clearly a businessman. He owned a grocery and oil supply business. There’s also a reference to the well-known correspondence that Sancho had with Laurence Sterne, Irish novelist and clergyman, about the slave trade. In spite of the omission, Sancho is best remembered a composer—the first in Britain of African descent. Among his works, Sancho published a collection of sixty-two songs, two sets of instrumental minuets and country dances, and another set of dances entitled 12 Country Dances for the Year 1779 (London).” [Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) is profiled at AfriClassical.com]

No comments: