By the late 18th century the black population in London was in the thousands. Among them were Ignatius Sancho and Olaudah Equiano
Born on a slave ship, Ignatius Sancho (1729-80) was brought to England as a baby. He was educated in London and established himself in Westminster, buying a shop on Charles Street.
Sancho was an accepted and respected member of London’s intellectual and artistic society, and his life illustrated that Africans were equal in every way to the Europeans who enslaved them.
Olaudah Equiano (1745-97) was an active opponent of the slave trade. He lived and worked in London for several periods of his life. He was employed by the British government to work on the Sierra Leone settlement scheme, which was established to repatriate former enslaved Africans living in London.
Equiano was a leading member of the black community, working with Granville Sharp on legal cases involving Africans fighting to establish their rights to freedom in Britain. His autobiography was published in 1789.