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There could be a reason for this

Half of Britons can’t name a Black British historical figure, survey finds
Exclusive: majority of British people found to have ‘shockingly little’ knowledge about Black British history

There weren’t that many Black Britons back in history. Black pop of Britain in 1946 (after the Septics went home, before Windrush) was about 30,000.

That’s not a large number to select famous people that people recall from. So, about the population of Wishaw. Name some famous people from Wishaw.

75 thoughts on “There could be a reason for this”

  1. There are no Black British historical figures, just as there isn’t enough Black History to fill a month.

    I struggle with any Welsh historical figures.

  2. Well, while I could name a famous Wishaw – Ben “Paddington” – I couldn’t even tell you where the town of Wishaw might be – somewhere near Bristol / Bath given Tim’s background.

    How on earth the writer of the report expects anyone to know the name of a Roman governor of Britain (between 139 and 142 AD FFS!), or a classical composer, or an abolitionist who died in 1797, I have no idea. Mary Seacole, possibly; but the others? Nah, not really much of a chance.

    Oh, and what always gets me is the implied/inferred racism – what do “brown” people think of Black History this, that, the other – there are vastly more people in this country who are of Asian extraction than there are West Indian or African, and they never seem to get mentioned – and don’t complain about it endlessly either.

  3. What about the Black Prince?

    I’ll definitely have to remember that answer, should I ever be asked to name a famous black person from British history!

  4. Other than a scholar of Roman Britain, nobody could name a single one of the 40 plus Roman governors of Britain. If you asked people to name 20 white British historical figures before 1940, other than monarchs, most would struggle.

    I did know Mary Seacole, and as a lover of Coleridge’s work, I knew he was mixed race.

  5. What the hell’s Wishaw Tim?

    As for the black criminals that the Africans chose to dump on the silly white traders, do you know of any white convicts who were important in the history of the West Indies, the US or Australia?

    PS. Wiki doesn’t tell me whether Harry Morgan was a convict or not. Although the Spanish certainly thought he was a criminal.

  6. Working as I do for a large US organization, when the topic turns to ‘black underrepresentation’ on the various ‘DIE’ seminars that are a facet of modern working life, you can guarantee that there won’t be any Asian representation either from the Orient or the Subcontinent other than those based in the US and UK. The only reason there’s any White representation is either they’re paid up ‘Ultra left’ Dems/ UK Hard Left coalition (So Tories, Labour, SNP, Libdems, Green or PC) or in the case of Men they can see that failure to attend will mean guaranteed (rather than probable) redundancy as the ‘DIE’ agenda moved forward.

    What’s striking is that the number of people bothered about stuff like this is really limited to grifters from the US (more numerous) and the UK. I have never met anyone from the West Indies or West Africa who gave a tinker’s cuss. The only glimmer of hope I see is that Israel leads a much more aggressive campaign against Hamas that starts an attack on UK based Islamic extremists and their fifth column enablers (which would include people who are concernbed about noone knowing about historical ‘black Britons’)

    Like Steve I doubt that will happen but you have to have something to keep you going.

  7. I’ve just got around to reading the article. The governor of Britain was from Numidia which when I last looked was modern Algeria. So hardly black then.

    “People settling here 2000 years ago” ie Roman soldiers or slaves, so not really forming a thriving community then.

    Where did these black people in the Stone Age cone from ? Did they really walk from West Africa across the ice bridge ?

    Even Coleridge Taylor was mixed race and Mary Seacole certainly dudn’t consider herself black.

    Oh dear oh dear. Do these Graun journalists actually read their articles after reading them ?
    It is all so desperate and futile.

  8. Mary Seacole was not black albeit she came from the West Indies. She was of mixed race but reportedly she could pass for white.
    The Grauniad repeatedly uses the word “black” to describe white North Africans.

  9. Half of Britons can’t name a Black British historical figure, survey finds

    I don’t talk to tha police, blood, but my list would be:

    Little Black Sambo
    Ten Little… Indians?
    William Shake-spears
    That posh black chappie Leonard Rossiter didn’t like
    Coal miners
    Blackout curtains
    Prince Harry that one time
    Gary Lineker

    I trust I am not being niggardly with my recognition of our greatest citizens.

  10. shockingly little’ knowledge about Black British history

    It’s probably because they have achieved so many amazing things, you don’t even know where to…. HEY, THAT’S MY BIKE!

  11. To repeat something from a comment I made on a recent thread, multiculturalism in the UK only really dates from the late 1970’d at the earliest. Before that, there just weren’t enough immigrants in the country to merit the description. You could go almost anywhere apart from small areas of the major cities without seeing a single one. Apart from certain manufacturing & service industries, you were highly unlikely to work alongside on.
    So as Tim says, even if you include brown, yellow & any other colour you fancy, where are these historical figures supposed to be coming from? Famous black criminals? Apart from that who’s going to have done something would merit getting in the history books?

  12. Just a thought about the contributions of ethnic minority people to British history. Fancy making a list of historic Jews? Or aren’t they efnic enough to make the grade? Not black enuff? Start with Disraeli or earlier? Need a fair sized sheet of paper, wouldn’t you? How many of them are there now? Half a million? Far less as you go back.

  13. Well, maybe climate change IS the biggest threat to our health.

    After all, with only a few worthless windmills to provide energy, and all pesticides and artificial fertilisers banned, I’d expect at least 99% of the population to die immediately.

  14. @DocBud
    “If you asked people to name 20 white British historical figures before 1940, other than monarchs, most would struggle.”
    1) Tostig Godwinson
    2) Saint Patrick
    3) Saint David
    4) Wat Tyler
    5) Simon De Montfort
    6) Earl of Warwick
    7) Earl of Essex
    8) Sir Walter Raleigh
    9)Thomas Cromwell
    10) Oliver Cromwell
    11) Lord Fairfax
    12) General Monk
    13) Duke of Montrose
    14) John Churchill
    15) Jethro Tull
    16) Turnip Townsend
    17) Horatio Nelson
    18) Duke of Wellington
    19) Bonnie Prince Charlie
    20) Florence Nightingale
    21) Richard Arkwright
    22) Isambard Kingdom Brunel

    It was not that difficult – no internet search needed

  15. I’m mildly surprised that todays brainwashed yoof didn’t suggest Anne Boleyn, Alexander Hamilton and “Queen Charlotte” from Bridgerton.

  16. Tostig Godwinson

    That’s the lady who used to present the News Quiz innit ?

    Didn’t realise that she was that old

  17. John Cleland, scourge of the British Touring Car Championship back in the ’90s. He was from Wishaw.

    PaulF: Yeah, funny thing. There’s a Wishaw in Warwickshire, but it’s a village of about 125. The one with a population of 30,000-ish is in Lanarkshire (basically it’s at the very edge of what could reasonably be called “Glasgow” if you don’t let the locals hear you). Don’t know why he’d choose it.

  18. @ bis
    I knew several immigrants in the 1950s and met more – it’s just that few of them (apart from my French teacher and some with strong Irish accents) were obviously immigrants.

  19. Depends where you lived John. Where I grew up & lived birth>1980, immigrants were becoming almost a majority. But I can remember taking a black Caribbean girl up to Bury St Edmonds for a weekend in the mid ’80s & she virtually had celebrity status. People in the streets were turning their heads to look at her. The vast majority of people in the UK didn’t live in the sort of areas I did. And maybe you did.

  20. “Although people with dark skin first came to Britain about 12,000 years ago, with the first known people to come directly from Africa settling approximately 2,000 years ago”

    The “dark skin” is a bit ambiguous.. She came from the area of what is now Cyprus with 95%-ish confidence after some proper research..
    Hence some plaques and memorials having been silently “removed for maintenance”…
    Bit of an egg-face conundrum there…

    And 2000 years ago… Roman Era… so yes.. There’ll have been technically-Africans around. Some even sub-Saharan. Some even possibly as free (wo)men. They also went home with the Romans.

  21. Joe Baker of Hibs and Arsenal. Lovely footballer.

    Though there is a caveat. “The son of a sailor, when his father left the navy, Joe as a baby was whisked back over the border to Wishaw”. So Wishaw bred but English born.

  22. Major ports also saw a greater variety of people even if many were just passing through. It was common even for British vessels to have Chinese labour in the laundry room and Yemenis on the crew. Quite a few Yemenis settled in Britain in Victorian times in fact, small communities in the port cities that have essentially intermarried away today so just a few surnames remain as a trace of it.

  23. Wishaw? Because when looking at a list of British towns by size, getting to 30k, that wsa the one I spotted which I didn;t know where it was. I’d have guessed lancashire but not even right country let alone county…

  24. David,

    I said most, not all. For those of us who are well read and watch more than just Britain’s Got Talent, it’s easy, but I’d happily take a bet that if I asked a random selection of people to try and name 20 white British historical figures before 1940, other than monarchs, the majority would not be able to. I’d prefer not to take the survey in Oxford or Cambridge, but there are lots of areas where my wager would coast home.

  25. The Hottentot Venus was quite famous in her day. Today she’d be wholly unremarkable, one of a million waddling the streets.

  26. “Although people with dark skin first came to Britain about 12,000 years ago . . .”

    This is unknown. What is known is that the first hunter-gatherers to move in after the iceage did not have the specific mutation currently responsible for light skin. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have some other adaptation. Dark skin is a health disadvatage at northerly latitudes for people in these comfortable times. For those facing severe subsistence conditions it would probably be communally fatal.

  27. There’s no such thing as black history, just history and I don’t give a flying one about the colour of peoples skin. It’s irrelevant. Only a racist would care. Oh yeah, this is the Groan.

    I struggle with any Welsh historical figures.

    Owain Glyndwr is the great historical Welsh figure. The bloke who couldn’t be bothered to turn up when it mattered.

  28. Owain Glyndwr is the great historical Welsh figure. The bloke who couldn’t be bothered to turn up when it mattered.

    Bit like Gareth Bale

  29. Half of Britons can’t name a Black British historical figure, survey finds

    Why does it have to be just about the blacks?
    Why didn’t they ask how many Chinese historical British figures they could name? Or Japanese British figures? Or El Salvadoran? And why lump all black people together? Why not ask about Sudanese historical figures and Nigerian and Djiboutian? Are they saying they’re all the same?

  30. BiS @11.59, Fred Kite warned about the blacks taking all the jobs on lower pay in 1959.
    Packet of lard Roy Hattersley claimed his constituents were complaining about the number of migrants from the moment he became an MP in 1964.
    Alf Garnett was ranting about the coons from 1965
    Saint Enoch’s Rivers of blood speech was 1968.
    Peter Simple commented on the ‘experiment’ being conducted on the British people in 1969.
    The Tory manifesto of 1970 promised no more mass migration .

    There were plenty of darkies in the UK and plenty of people unhappy with it, but we were told we were racists so shut up. And we still are……

  31. Theophrastus (2066)

    “I can remember taking a black Caribbean girl up to Bury St Edmonds for a weekend in the mid ’80s & she virtually had celebrity status.”

    Likewise, the first black police officer in the town c.1989. And it’s Bury St Edmunds – not Edmonds.

  32. @Steve

    You missed out the Black and White Minstrels. It’s been a while since they were on so its not surprising they aren’t remembered, but that’s history for you. Popular at the time but forgotten 40 years later.

  33. Black and white minstrel show had viewing audience figures that modern broadcasters can only dream and fantasise about

  34. Andyf – I think the Black and White Minstrels have been banished to the Forbidden Zone along with other light entertainment acts such as Messers Walliams, Lucas and Brand.

    Ever think you’d see the day Little Britain was too controversial for British telly? Me neither.

    The problem with British history is that it’s too damn British, should be Nigerian instead. But it’s not really history I’m worried about.

    We really need to find out who stole The Future.

    Remember The Future?

  35. Nobody has mentioned the Black Douglas.

    And there must surely have been hundreds of the buggers on the Black Isle?

    The first “Africans” would have been Carthaginian traders; that’s using “African” in the sneakily dishonest way it’s used in the USA.

  36. Thanks BiP. I hadn’t thought of the Carthaginians.

    The demand for tin means that traders from the Mediterranean could have come to Britain about 4000 years ago.

  37. There’s been a Med wreck from 800BC (maybe earlier) with provably Cornish tin on it. 4000 would be a bit early, bronze was really a bit later than that.

  38. Does Henry Tudor (Henry VII) count as Welsh?

    The legitimacy of Henry Tudor depended on the 15th century equivalent of the Hallett Enquiry.

  39. Carthage? I live in Carthage. The only darkies we’ve ever had here are the West African lookie-men infest the beach front. (OK & a few amigas of mine) Carthage was here & across the water in Morocco; Mediterranean civilisation. Nothing to do with Black Africa*.

    *We get “Africa” from the Latin for the southern coastal regions of the Med. Damn all to do with the continent. The continent wasn’t invented then. Africans lagging behind again, as usual.

  40. On the subject of Africans:

    U. S. Embassy, Abuja
    Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive
    Central District Area, Abuja

    without mincing words, I am convinced 100% that you have had bitter experience with various scammers & #39; claiming to be high government officials banks and thereby defrauding you of your hard-earned money ' the activities of these scammers has changed your perspective about conducting business on the internet and you now believed there is no genuine business that can be conducted on the internet. Well I am American and the internet was created by Americans for the purpose of creating; awareness for your products/ services and conducting genuine business with ease. I am fully committed to deliver the diplomatic consignment to you. I am a full citizen of the United States but I was on a mission here in Nigeria as an ambassador to Nigeria.

    Hence, I am making every effort to ensure that no citizen of the United States is cheated by Nigeria/Benin republic. Therefore, I need your utmost support and understanding to actualize this dream. I also want you to understand that I do trust you and I expect you to show me the same trust and respect in return since trust is a 2-way street. On the other hand, trust is a relationship of reliance. Trust also means being able to predict what other people will do and what situations will occur.
    I shall be coming to your country for an official meeting on Friday and I will be bringing your funds of $15.5m along with me but this time I will not go through customs because as an ambassador to Nigeria, I am a US government agent and I have the veto power to go through customs. As soon as I am through with the meeting I shall then proceed to your address. (Send your cell phone number and the address where you want me to bring the package).

    You have really paid so much in this delivery that makes me wonder. You are a very lucky person because I shall be bringing it myself and there is nothing anyone can do about it. check here: your package($15.5m) must be registered as an ambassadorial package for me to defeat all odds and the cost of the registering is $100.the fee must be paid in the next 50 hours so that all necessary arrangement can be made before time will be against us. Contact my secretary immediately for the registration fee which is $100 only.

    Contact person David J. Barron
    Secretary: US Ambassador to Nigeria.
    Email: ([email protected])

    As soon as you send the fee make sure you send me the payment information. My flight is Thursday and I expect you to comply before then so that the delivery can be completed. If you do not comply, then it will not be my fault if you do not receive your package.

    Thank you,

    Mary Beth Leonard
    United States Ambassador: To Nigeria.

    It’s a beaut isn’t it?
    e-mail address: [email protected] if you feel like replying.

    We can put the con game as something Africans haven’t managed to master yet.

  41. “The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC”

    “When was the Bronze Age in the UK?
    An Introduction to Prehistoric England | English Heritage
    BRONZE AGE (2300–800 BC)”

  42. @bis

    Nigeria’s actually very good at “419”.

    There’s an art to it, you have to make it “so bad it’s good” – what you want is the only replies to come from the gullible, the manipulatable, even or especially the vulnerable (mental illness, dementia? lovely). Make it too plausible and you’d have to waste time dealing with people who’ll reply from curiosity but aren’t ever going to fall for it.

  43. From the BBC

    “The editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful OBE, has been named the UK’s most influential black person by the Powerlist 2024.”

    Maybe there is something to this systemic racism thing. The most influential black man in the UK and I’ve never heard of him.

  44. Andrew: I saw that this morning. I had heard of Enninful before, and he’s just been demoted by Anna Wintour, the steel boss lady of Vogue magazine, for thinking he might get her job when she croaks.

    The only other one I’ve heard of who previously held the spurious title they’ve just given Enninful is Lewis Hamilton. I would have thought that, laughable though it might seem, David Lammy is rather more influential in real terms than either.

  45. When Charles II was on the run after the Battle of Worcester the wanted posters described him as “a black man two yards high” That referred to his hair, but I offer it to the re writers of history free of charge.

  46. So you live in Cartagena in Spain, not the old-fashioned Carthage in Tunisia. Not so?

    I thought Cartagena was in Columbia?

  47. He means the old Carthaginian lands, the Punic Empire. Although, to be fair, they were really only controlled by them for a couple of centuries before the Romans came and took over.

  48. I thought Cartagena was in Columbia?
    Cartagena de las Indias on the Caribbean coast (known to Brits for the War of Jenkins ‘Ear). Cartagena, Spain is over to my east in Murcia Province.
    You’re right Tim. Only about as long as the United States has existed. Hardly worth mentioning, the Punic Empire.
    But I don’t subscribe to the academic historian’s Heads on Coins view of history. Rulers are here today, gone tomorrow, people. The inhabitants don’t tend to change. They’re the ones with the agricultural toolkit make places inhabitable. Locals have probably been here 5000 years. Some of the old people in the inland villages look like they have.

  49. The only pre 1946 black Briton I could name is ‘Darky Baines’. I don’t know his first name. Darky was a member of D Company, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infanty and took part in the famous glider assault on Pegasus Bridge over the Orne canal on D Day.
    As an aside Darky was a popular member of the company. All British soldiers got a nickname such as Lofty, Chalky, Ginger, etc. Being black it was inevitable that he’d end either as Chalky or Darky. A fraternal term of endearment.

  50. Kieran Tierney, John Higgins, Tommy Gemmell, Joe Baker (as mentioned earlier), the Alexander Brothers, John Cleland, Sir Samuel Curran, Deborah Orr and Jai Quitongo. All Wishaw born. What was the other question?

  51. When a black man is Foreign Secretary and another has recently been Chancellor, it feels a bit demeaning to claim the most powerful black person in the country is the editor of a fashion magazine.

  52. @Anon
    Nigeria’s actually very good at “419”.
    There’s an art to it, you have to make it “so bad it’s good” – what you want is the only replies to come from the gullible, the manipulatable, even or especially the vulnerable (mental illness, dementia? lovely). Make it too plausible and you’d have to waste time dealing with people who’ll reply from curiosity but aren’t ever going to fall for it.

    I’ve heard that. But I’ve also heard it’s a myth. The money’s actually mostly made by selling the scripts & the set ups to gullible Nigerian wannabe con-men. That really wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve dealt with Nigerians. They may be bent as hairpins but they aren’t particularly bright.
    Years ago there was a blog guy in the States chronicled the setting up a Nigerian 419er with some hilarious webcam video of the sting.

  53. @bis

    Yeah, I am sure it gets subfranchised out, and the big money isn’t made at the coalface. Not sure on the “who’s going to fall for it” thing – I think there are different levels? Like the online romance scams might be higher quality, you need someone with a bit more gift for the gab and you’re investing a lot of time in the mark, whereas the standard email spam is more of a numbers game, cast the net wide enough and someone will fall for it. As you say, some are better executed than others.

    For some of the really sophisticated online scams, Nigeria isn’t the main hub.

    Above linked to a big French CO2-trading scam. Lots of econ-leaning blogs, youtube vids etc got plastered in those binary trading scam ads a few years ago, interesting to see the inner workings.

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