A Trumpeter Discharged: William Affleck.
This print purports to show the interior of the hay loft in Cato Street where the conspirators met and where one of the arresting officers, Richard Smithers, was stabbed and killed. At the subsequent trial, witnesses claimed that Davidson had been posted as sentry outside the premises at the time of the police raid. He was said to have resisted arrest, using both the sword and the carbine that he was carrying; and, according to one policeman, ‘damned and swore against any man that would not die in liberty’s cause’.Guildhall Library 23638 (28 Feb 1820)
...I appeal to any man that was in court, whether, in the summing up of the evidence, Judge Garrow did justice to me, as a prisoner at the bar. Was he not inveterate against me? did he not influence the minds of the jurymen, and almost insist upon their pronouncing me guilty? did any person identify me to be the identical person except those officers who, we all know, and every Englishman must know, have always been instrumental to the death of innocent men.
in what manner is it I could ever be guilty of high treason? it was never pretended I had ever said any thing, directly or indirectly; I must have been a silent spectator from the nature of my colour. I should have been immediately remarked if I had taken an active part. I have got a deal to say for myself where I feel it to be proper; but there is not one single witness has ever said that I said any thing, consequently I could not be a person that was in the conspiracy; they have said, only that there was a man of colour, and, unfortunately, I was caught near the spot, and was fixed on by them...
Would you not rather govern a country of spirited men, than cowards? I can die but once in this world, and the only regret left is, that I have a large family of small children, and when I think of that, it unmans me.
The Newgate Calendar states that 'William Davidson was the son of the Attorney-General of Jamaica and a native woman of colour. He was sent to England to receive an education suitable to the rank of his father. In Liverpool he studied mathematics; later on he was impressed into the king's service. He received a legacy from his mother of £1,200 and set up a business in Birmingham. After a failed attempt at marriage to the daughter of a Liverpool tradesman, Davidson married a Mrs Lane who was left with six children, two of them being Davidson's sons.'
Richard Carlile, letter to Sarah Davidson (May 1820) Little did I think that villain Edwards was the spy, agent, and instigator of the government, and Mr. Davidson his victim. I now regret my error, and hope that you will pardon it as an error of the head, without any bad motive. Be assured that the heroic manner in which your husband and his companions met their fate, will in a few years, perhaps in a few months, stamp their names as patriots, and men who had nothing but their country's weal at heart. I flatter myself as your children grow up, they will find that the fate of their father will rather procure them respect and admiration than its reverse
An American, Aldridge was descended from an African
clergyman. He developed his enthusiasm for acting while
still a youth, at the African Free School in New York.
He found there was little opportunity to use his acting skills in America, so decided to travel to England.
It was on board the ship bound for Liverpool, in 1825, that Aldridge became personal attendant to the British actor James Wallack, and the seeds of his future career were sown. Two years later he appeared on the London stage. On his first night at the Royal Coburg Theatre, his performance was reported as 'novel…excited much attention…Aldridge had a very excellent conception of the main character in The Revolt of Surinam or a Slave's Revenge'.
Ira Aldridge married a woman from Yorkshire, Margaret Gill, and the marriage provided Aldridge with the valuable support he needed to overcome some of the negativity he encountered. The Times was highly critical and dismissive of the Black actor's work. Aldridge was working at a time when attempts were being made to end slavery in the colonies. The pro-slavery lobby organised a campaign to destroy the actor's career.
After playing major roles in Oroonoko (Thomas Southerne's dramatisation of the novel by AphraBehn) and The Ethiopian, Aldridge took to touring the provinces, and reached a high point with his portrayal of Othello at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. On his return to London's Covent Garden, once again to play the Moor in Othello, TheTimes was scathing yet again. But this time it was not about Aldridge's performance, but because 'of the indecency of a lady-like girl like Miss Ellen Tree being subjected to the indignity of being pawed by Mr Wallack's black servant…'.
Aldridge continued in his chosen profession. He was encouraged no doubt by unprejudiced reviews both in Europe and England, such as the one from the Standard that described him as having 'the fire and spirit of a first-rate actor'. Described as a gentle man of manners, Ira Aldridge was also very aware of the effect slavery had on the African psyche and this contributed to the passion with which he played his roles.
Learie Constantine, the son of a test cricketer, was born at Diego Martin, Trinidad, on 21st September, 1901. He worked in a solicitor's office before beginning a career in cricket. He made his test debut while touring England in 1928. The following year Constantine moved to England and joined the Nelson team in the Lancashire Cricket League.
Constantine became captain of the West Indies and led the team to their first victory in a test match in 1930. He also played an important role in West Indies winning the series against England in 1934-35. After retiring from test cricket he became a commentator for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
During the Second World War Constantine worked as a welfare officer for the labour ministry. Based in Liverpool his main responsibility was to help West Indian immigrants find employment in Britain. In 1943 Constantine was refused service in a British hotel because of his colour. He took the owners of the hotel to court and won his case. Later he wrote Colour Bar (1954), with his friend, C. L. R. James. The book dealt with the subject of racial prejudice in Britain.
After studying law Constantine gained entrance to the English bar in 1954. Later he returned to Trinidad where he became involved in politics. A member of the People's National Movement, he served in the government as minister of community works and utilities. When Trinidad gained independence he became his country's first high commissioner to London.