01 October 2020 16:45
Google has celebrated the start of Black History month with a Doodle honouring the incredible life of Ignatius Sancho, a Greenwich composer and writer who fought for the freedoms of black people. Born around 1729, Ignatius Sancho was the first Briton of African descent to have voted in a British general election and to have an obituary published in the British press. Sancho wrote in detail about the abolition of slavery, earning his reputation as a "man of letters". He also made his name as the first person of African descent to publish classical music in a European style. Portrait believed to be of a young Ignatius Sancho, between between 1757-1760 Born on a slave ship crossing the Atlantic, Sancho was taken to Greenwich after both his parents died, to work in a house of three unmarried sisters.
There, he was encouraged to educate himself by an aristocratic neighbour, who lent him books and resources. Sancho started writing letters, criticising what he saw in 18th-century society and politics. These were published in newspapers and he became a symbol of the anti-slavery movement. He taught himself to write music and published four books of songs and dance music. Later, Sancho married a West Indian woman, Anne Osborne, with whom he had seven children. They opened a greengrocer in Westminster. As a male homeowner, Sancho was eligible to vote, which he did in 1774. Designed by UK-based artist Kingsley Nebechi, today's Google illustration shows Sancho holding a quill, with his birthplace, a slave ship, in the background. A physical reminder of Sancho can still be found on a wall in the southwest corner of Greenwich Park, where a plaque in his memory says: