Africans in Tudor and Stuart Port Towns

January 2021

The Drake Jewel

Dr Sam Willis meets with Dr Miranda Kauffman to discuss the research that led to her prizewinning book Black Tudors – The Untold Story, and in particular to her discovery of the lives of numerous Africans living in England and Scotland’s port towns during the 16th and 17th centuries. She explains how they arrived in Britain, what occupations and relationships they found in the ports and how they were treated by the church, the law courts and the other inhabitants. Their lives are a crucial part of our understanding of this age in which England made her first steps as a colonial empire and their experiences shed light on many of the leading Tudor seafarers of the time including Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Ralegh. Miranda’s research into the Africans living in England in the Tudor and Stuart periods encourages us to ask wider questions about Tudor perceptions of race, religion and the ethics of enslavement and colonialism.