The incredible stories of black Americans who escaped the slave trade to make a life for themselves in Victorian Britain have emerged after more than 130 years.
From a woman who fled Tennessee and ended up meeting the Queen to a man who went from his master’s home to becoming a world boxing champion – their remarkable journeys helped shape the way the UK and Ireland viewed life across the pond.
Importing slaves was banned in America in 1808, but slavery wasn’t officially outlawed until 1865 and the end of the civil war. The conflict cost thousands of lives and saw southern states desperately cling on to the right to keep black people as servants. The slave trade was not banned in Britain until 1833, but prejudice continued for years.
Most of them never returned to the US, settling in towns and cities around the country and marrying British people.
Their portraits have been published in a new book written by historian Jeffrey Green, as part of his bid to get more information about them.
One shows Marta Ricks who travelled to Britain via Liberia and eventually ended up meeting Queen Victoria. American Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield had a similar experience, serenading the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
There is another striking shot of George Dixon, who escaped the slave trade and became a world bantamweight boxing champion after fighting in London in 1890.
Among the others illustrated in Black Americans in Victorian Britain are Peter Thomas Stanford who went on to become a church minister in Birmingham in 1889 and Samuel Ringgold War who arrived in the UK in 1853 and wrote a memoir called the Autobiography of a Fugitive Slave.