Africans in late eighteenth-century Ireland

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It might be expected that the Ireland in which Tony Small arrived would have had little experience of Africans or other people of colour living among them, but that was not the case—at least not in ports such as Dublin or Cork. There are many individual reports—in newspapers, church records and memoirs—of black people, usually men, working as servants for the most part, but there are also musicians, soldiers, divers and even a famous opera singer, Rachel Baptiste. W.A. Hart estimated the black population in Ireland at between 1,000 and 3,000 in the latter half of the eighteenth century. The Freeman’s Journal of 23–25 October 1777 published a letter admonishing a crowd of Dubliners for frightening a black woman and her child, stating that black people in Dublin were ‘common to meet with’.

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