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Death certificate of ‘first black woman in Britain’ is found

11 October, 2019 — By Tom Foot

The death certificate discovery

A 450-YEAR-OLD death certificate for what is believed to be one of the first black women living in Britain has been unearthed in Westminster archives.

The record of “Margaret, a moor” says she was registered as buried in September 1571 at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Little more is known about the mysterious entry that features in an display of rare photos and exhibits marking Black History Month in City Hall, Victoria.

Pelé visiting the Stowe Centre youth club in Paddington

The display includes photos of a 1950s jazz band, Brazilian soccer genius Pelé visiting the Stowe Centre youth club in Paddington, and a 19th-century drawing of a prominent Indian at a political dinner in Marylebone.

One satirical sketch from 1818, The Piccadilly Nuisance, lampoons the chaotic state of West End traffic and features black characters. The exhibition has a focus on the 20th century and the Windrush generation that came to this country from colonies after the Second World War.

A jazz band in the 1950s

Council leader Cllr Nickie Aiken said: “Our archives team has put together a remarkable collection of pictures and records as part of Black History Month.

“They chronicle the life of black and minority ethnic residents from the 16th century to the 19th century, and the 20th-century section has images which chronicle everything from the growth of social reform to the emergence of black superstar celebrities.”

The exhibition is on until mid-January and open on weekdays from 10am-4pm.

See www.westminster.gov.uk/mywestminster-life

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