African London

African London

Africans were brought to London in the late 16th century because of Britain's role in the slave trade. By the mid-18th century, the capital had a significant free Black population. Fewer Black people came to London after slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, and the community declined during the 19th century.

From the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign until the end of the Second World War, the British Empire was at its height. Large parts of Africa fell under British rule and people from these lands became British subjects who were able to enter Britain freely. Some Africans came to London as visitors and students; others stayed permanently. Many of today's Londoners can trace their ancestry directly to African countries.

During the 19th century, communities of ex-sailors developed around port areas. The Black sailor community was focused on Canning Town, where a Coloured Men's Institute was established in 1926.

A number of prominent Black figures emerged in public life. Londoner Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a notable composer around the turn of the century. John Archer pioneered African and Caribbean involvement in local politics when he became Mayor of Battersea in 1913.

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