Comic Release date: 8 June 2015
George John Scipio Africanus (c. 1763–19 May 1834) was born in Sierra Leone and brought over to England age 3 as a ‘present’ to wealthy businessman George Molineux. He was educated by the Molineux family in Wolverhampton who also gave him his name. The Molineux’s were a powerful family whose link to Nottinghamshire came through Darcy Molineux (1652 – 1716) who served as a High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1687 and as Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire between 1698 – 1702. It is most likely Africanus worked as a servant before becoming apprenticed as a brass founder in the Molineux’s family business.
Africanus moved to St Peter’s Parish, Nottingham at 21 around 1784. Here he met Esther Shaw who became his wife on 3 August 1788. The couple set up a successful employment agency called ‘Africanus’ Register of Servants’ which they ran from their family home throughout the entirety of their lives. Esther passed away on 12 May 1853. They had seven children but only one survived into adulthood.
In Nottingham, Africanus became involved with ‘Watch and Ward’ which aimed to prevent civil disturbances. In 1829 he became a ‘freeholder’ owning his own property at 28 Chandlers Lane (now Victoria St) as well as adjoining properties in Blutchers Yard. Property came with status and gave him the right to ‘vote’.
George Africanus Facts
Castle Rock brewery named a beer after Africanus as part of their Nottinghamian Celebration Ale series.
Len Garrison, director of Afro-Caribbean Family and Friends (AcFF), ensured that Africanus was included in Nottingham Castle's 1993 Black Presence exhibition.
Esther and George Africanus are buried in St Mary’s Church, Nottingham. Their headstone was only discovered in 2003. A memory plaque was put up in St. Mary’s Church in 2003 which commemorates Africanus as ‘Nottingham’s first black entrepreneur’
Africanus won his freedom from slavery long before the Committee for the Abolition of Slave Trade managed to change the law in 1807
“George Africanus – From Slavery to Freedom and Citizenship” is a project of Belong Nottingham that has been made possible thanks to an award in 2013 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.