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Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780)
(excerpts only)

From African Slave to Composer & Author
Born on a Slave Ship Near Guinea, West Africa

Ignatius Sancho was one of the few Africans in 18th-century England to become a member of the middle class, highly literate and an amateur musician and composer.

Ignatius Sancho was born in 1729 on a British slave ship near Guinea, West Africa, enroute to the Spanish West Indies. He was orphaned in infancy. Ignatius Sancho: An African Man of Letters is a biography written by Reyahn King, Sukhdev Sandhu, James Walvin and Jane Girdham. It was published by the National Portrait Gallery of Great Britain in 1997.

Sancho married Anne Osborne, a West Indian woman of African descent, in 1758. They eventually had six children. The cover portrait of the Sancho biography was done by the renowned British painter Thomas Gainsborough in 1768. Walvin indicates that Sancho had become a man of letters by that time:

By the late 1760s Sancho had made the progression from being a decorative black domestic to a man of refinement and accomplishment, penning letters to friends and sympathisers around the country.

For more detail:


African American Review - Spring 1997, book review by Keith A. Sandiford of Letters of Ignatius Sancho by Paul Edwards and Polly Rewt. - "Ignatius Sancho was the first African prose writer whose work was published in England." - A comprehensive introduction to Ignatius Sancho's life and work, including a biograpy, extracts from his writing, images, links, music, and bibliography by Brycchan Carey of the University of London.

Center for Black Music Research - International Dictionary of Black Composers: Ignatius Sancho.