Granville Sharp Tomb

Tomb of Granville Sharp

Despite a wet evening, Jane Bowden-Dan’s illustrated talk drew an audience of about 20 members and visitors to St Clements Church Hall. First, Jane referred to two famous Fulham residents who fought for the abolition of the British Transatlantic Slave Trade – Granville Sharp (1735-1813) who lodged with his sister-in-law at Fulham House (since demolished), and Beilby Porteus (1731-1809), who, as Bishop of London, lived at Fulham Palace.

Then, using business letters from the Lascelles sugar merchants, describing the admission of ‘Negro Sampson’- from St Kitts – to Guy’s Hospital in 1752 under surgeon, Mr Samuel Sharpe, we found three intriguing early links between the Hospital and the West Indies. These were: the original financing of the voluntary Hospital (opened in 1726); sons of West Indian planters as physicians and surgeons; and the treatment of Black people in eighteenth-century London hospitals. Was it self-interest or humanitarian concern that led to the ‘Negro Sampson’ receiving care arranged by the leading surgeon, Mr Samuel Sharpe?

Questions suggested that the Society might investigate how polymath Sir William Cheselden (1688-1752) – surgical mentor to Mr Samuel Sharpe – was involved in the design and construction of the old Fulham Bridge. Also we must not forget that the Act of 1807 only abolished the Slave Trade. Full Emancipation in the Caribbean of nearly a million Africans in British colonies was only won in 1838. The Windrush Foundation is currently presenting an excellent free exhibition (until 21 December 2013) at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, marking the 175th anniversary of the 1838 Emancipation.

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