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Black history

Ann de lisle de Beauvoir

Black History and Guernsey

What is there in the collection relating to black history?

This is an area that we are currently researching. 

One object in the art collection is this portrait of Ann De Lisle De Beauvoir (born 1631/2).  Looking at the portrait, it would be easy to miss the young slave placed in the background of this painting.  The rich sumptuous fabrics and the paleness of Ann's skin dominate the composition.  The child obediently stands by Ann's side and offers her flowers.  Artists in the 17th century used black servants and slaves to illustrate the wealth of the sitter, or to add an exotic element to the artwork.  There was no condemnation of slavery in such portraits and the slave trade was not being questioned. 

 

Slavery

What is there in the collection relating to slavery?

Here are two objects in the collection:

  • Chains taken from slave-gang on West African coast by Capt. Lionel De Sausmarez, RN, 1878 [in store]

  • Slave ankle fetter, "cut from a stolen female slave by Commander Lionel de Sausmarez who restored her at her own request to her original owner"; collected in Africa; iron, in 2 pieces [in store, see image below] 

Here is a bit of information about the man who collected these 2 objects:   Lionel Andros de Sausmarez. (b. 2.4.1847 in Guernsey, d. 20.7.1929)  Son of Captain Philip de Sausmarez.  He entered the Royal Navy 1860, Sub-Lieutenant 1866, Lieutenant 1869, and was for some time engaged in the suppression of the slave trade in South East Africa.  He served as a Sub-Lieutenant on the Sloop HMS Myrmidon doing anti-slavery patrols.  As Senior Lt of HMS London he was for three years actively engaged against the Slave Trade, for which he was mentioned in despatches.  He retired with the rank of Commander in 1883.  Click here and here for more information about him. The details here seem to suggest that he was searched aboard HMS London in 1878 when the chains were taken. 

Please find attached a few documents below:

  • Guernsey & the Slave Trade (text from a previous exhibition in 2007)

  • A Respectable Trade (an article written by Doug Ford from the Jersey Heritage magazine about CI and the slave trade)

  • Carey (this is an article about Olaudah Equiano in Guernsey).  Also see Brycchan Carey's website for more articles here (including one of John Wesley's 'Thoughts Upon Slavery'). 

 

  • Slave ankle fetter, cut from a stolen female slave by Commander Lionel de Sausmarez who restored her at her own request to her original owner.  Made from iron.  Guernsey Museum Object No. GMAG 3964