In July 1908 Sophia and her brother Prince Frederick, visited Kettering, Rothwell and Oundle. They lunched at the Royal Hotel and signed their names in the visitors Sohpia Duleep Singh"If I am not a fit person for the purpose of representation, why should I be a fit person for taxation?" Sophia campaigns for women’s right to vote in 1913 Source: Peter Bancebook. The Prince visited the parish church in Rothwell and then they drove to Oundle and stayed overnight in the Talbot Hotel.


Lookophia was one of the children of the last Maharaja of Lahore. He came to Britain in 1854 after being deposed from his throne by the East India Company in 1849. Sophia, like her sister Catherine, was a high profile Suffragette and took part in the campaign for the women’s vote. She was a member of Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union. In 1913 Sophia appeared in court for refusing to pay her taxes stating "If I am not a fit person for the purpose of representation, why should I be a fit person for taxation?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine PrenticeCatherine Prentice""Kitty" After years of faithful & loving service in India and England fell asleep in christ XXVII May 1865. Not merely a servant but above a servant a sister beloved" Catherine Prentice buried in the graveyard, Woodford-by-Thrapston
Catherine Prentice was buried in the graveyard at Woodford-by-Thrapston, near Kettering, in 1865. Otherwise known as ‘Kitty’, she was a servant and a nurse to the Reverend G.A.F. Watson who brought her to Northamptonshire, after living in India.


The gravestone reads ""Kitty" After years of faithful & loving service in India and England fell asleep in Christ XXVII May 1865. Not merely a servant but above a servant a sister beloved"


The parish register of May 1865 records the burial of "Catherine Prentice, African Nurse to Rev GAF Watson Chaplin HMIS aged about 30".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caesar Shaw
Caesar Shaw was a servant and slave at Althorp House in Northamptonshire. From the 16th century, but particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was fashionable Caesar Shaw"Caesar Shaw a Negro boy of about 10 years old belonging to Rt. Hon ye Earl of Sunderland was baptised August 6 1732" Caesar Shaw with the Spencer family in 1745 Source: Althorp Estatefor members of the aristocracy to have one or two Black slaves among their household servants.


There are two known paintings of Caesar Shaw at Althorp House. One was painted by John Wootton in 1733. The painting you see here is the work of George Knapton which dates to 1745. It shows Caesar with the Honourable John Spencer and nephew John (later 1st Earl Spencer).


The only other known record relating to Caesar is the following entry which appears in the 1732 Great Brington parish registers:


“Caesar Shaw a Negro boy of about 10 years old belonging to Rt. Hon ye Earl of Sunderland was baptised August 6 1732 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dare Family
In 18th century Gretton, several generations of the Dare family have been identified through the parish registers. Starting with a reference supplied by Gretton Local History Society, Richard Dare “a black man” married Ann Medwell in 1749. This union resulted in 12 children between 1751 and 1769, with some of the surviving children also marrying locally. For example, Robert married Elizabeth White on 13 July 1784. Together they appear to have had eight children, seven of whom were baptised and appear in Gretton Parish records between 1784 and 1797. One of their daughters, Anne, had a child, Martha, with an Edward White. Martha was illegitimate and appears as such on the baptismal register.


Looking back at the census it is curious to find no more mention of the Dare family in Gretton. It could be that the family moved away from the area to another county or alternatively, the spelling of the surname changed over time, particularly as it was common for officials to spell names in a variety of ways.

 

The spelling of the surname changed over time, particularly as it was common for officials to spell names in a variety of ways.

 

Peter the Saracen
In the Close Rolls (financial records) of 1205, there is a reference to “Peter the Saracen” who was commissioned as a “maker of crossbows” by King John at 9d (pence) per day. The word ‘saracen’ is usually used to describe someone who is of North African or Middle-eastern origin, as well as people of Muslim or Islamic faith.

Peter the Saracen"A "maker of crossbows" by King John at 9d (pence) per day" Extract reads: “Mandate to the constable of Northampton to retain Peter the Saracen, the maker of crossbows, and another with him, for the King's service, and allow him 9d. a day. Freemantle, 26th July 1205”

Typically however, we know nothing else about him - why he was in Northampton, where he came from, what he looked like, how he felt and what his experiences were. However, it is important to recognise that this skilled craftsman may have lived and worked in Northampton 800 years ago. It is fascinating to speculate how many other people, given that this was the time of the crusades, were also living in Britain whose origins lay elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Northamptonshire Black History Association
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