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Map of Marylebone, London
Click on a red cross to explore
the Black and Asian presence in Marylebone.
1. The Yorkshire
Stingo public house
2. The Hindoostanee Coffee House
3. Olaudah Equiano's plaque
Yorkshire Stingo public house
In the 1780s, Asian seamen (Lascars), who had been employed by
the East India Company to serve on ships bringing goods from India,
were often left stranded in London and other ports without any means
of support. By 1785, there were so many left destitute, begging
and dying on the streets of London, that some philanthropists organised
‘Subscribers for the relief of the distressed Blacks’
to help them. The scope of the subscription was widened to include
Black people from Africa and the Caribbean and became known as the
‘Committee for the Relief of the Black poor’. It was
this body that launched a scheme to relocate as many of the capital’s
Black and Asian poor to a settlement in Sierra Leone.
Whilst awaiting resettlement, Black and Asian people assembled
every Saturday at two locations to receive their six pennies a day
subscription. One place was the White Raven public house
in Mile End, the other being the Yorkshire Stingo public
house in Lisson Green, Paddington. It is possible that hundreds
of the Black poor visited these premises every Saturday.
It is possible to find the minutes of the meetings of the Committee
for the Relief of the Black Poor in the Treasury records, which
are held at The National Archives. These records also include details
of the Black, Asian and White people who were on the lists of those
to be resettled.
To look at these documents, check the catalogue online or visit
The National Archives in person. A member of staff will help you
find what you are looking for.
This extract from its minutes shows that one
of the eight headmen or ‘corporals’ appointed
by the Committee for the Relief of the Black poor was an Asian
man called John Lemon, aged 29 years, who had been born in
Bengal. Each corporal was responsible for the good behaviour
of a group or ‘company’ of the Black poor and
for payment of their daily allowance. It is likely John Lemon
was in charge of the Lascars.
It also provides an example of how Asian people are often
described as ‘black’ in the documents and demonstrates
why the historical researcher must be careful when interpreting
evidence of the Black and Asian presence.
first Asian restaurant
The Coffee House at number 34, George Street near the fashionable
Portman Square, was London’s first Indian restaurant opened
in 1810, by Sake Dean Mahomed. The restaurant was aimed at London’s
many Anglo-Indians and offered authentic Asian dishes in an oriental
Mahomed came from a wealthy family in Bihar, India but embarked
upon a military career with the East India Company. After a long
career in the army, he moved to Ireland where he lived for many
years. Mahomed later moved to England, working in a vapour bath
where he introduced the Indian treatment ‘champi’ or
In 1794, he wrote a book entitled The Travels of Dean Mahomet.
He later moved to Brighton to set up his own vapour bath establishment
and wrote a book on the art of shampooing in 1822. He died in 1851
and was buried in St Nicholas' churchyard in Brighton.
Equiano led a remarkable life. At the age of 11 years, he was kidnapped
in what is now Nigeria and taken as a slave to Barbados. Between
1757 to 1763 he went with his master on naval service to the Caribbean,
the Mediterranean and North America before arriving in England where
he was taught to read and write. His master, fearing that Equiano
would assert his freedom, re-sold him in the Americas. This did
not deter Equiano, who finally purchased his own freedom in 1766.
He returned to Britain and spent his next 11 years as a merchant
seaman, travelling to Greenland and other places. Equiano travelled
up and down the country campaigning against slavery and in 1789
wrote his life story, The Interesting Narrative of the Life
of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African. This book
was used in the campaign against the slave trade. Equiano was also
appointed as commissary of stores in the plan to resettle the Black poor in Sierra Leone but he was dismissed for exposing corruption.
In 2000, Westminster Council unveiled a plaque commemorating the
fact that Equiano had lived at number 73, Riding House Street, Westminster.
The plaque reads "Olaudah Equiano (1745 - 1797) "The
African" lived and published here in 1789 his autobiography
on suffering the barbarity of slavery, which paved the way for its
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