|Royal Trumpeters, including |
black trumpeter John Blanke (1511)
|May Fair, London (1716, detail)|
But, returning to Aswad and Boothe, the meta-narrative of this story is not clear. Did Blacks in early modern London experience Freedom Street, or a new subaltern situation in the Concrete (sic) Slaveship of the London streets? Note, again, two sentences from the Wood article/announcement:
|Bacchus and Venus: or, a select|
collection of near 200... songs and catches
in love and gallantry (1737,
courtesy of Angela McShane)
- "Employed especially as domestic servants, but also as musicians, dancers and entertainers, their numbers ran to many hundreds, maybe even more.And let's be clear - they were not slaves. In English law, it was not possible to be a slave in England (although that principle had to be re-stated in slave trade court cases in the late 18th Century, like the "Somersett" case of 1772)."
Perhaps the numbers are too small to make a final judgement. But, then, all the more reason to be sure that the meta-narrative of "it was not possible to be a slave in England," meets the reality of the baptism of "Thomas Sambo, Mr Heywood’s black boy," 29 October 1710.
[Update: followup here.]