Unknown African boy

‘Unknown African boy’ (d.1830):
St Martin’s Church, St. Martin’s, Isles of Scilly TR25 0QL

The Isles of Scilly saw many ships sail past in the pursuit of the slave trade and the products thereof. The difficult waters, however, caused many a shipwreck, sometimes aided by the people ashore.

One of the many ships to flounder was the Hope. At that time, the lighthouse on St Agnes and the similarly shaped day-mark on St Martins were both painted white. Returning from Africa, the ship’s captain tragically mistook one for the other in bad weather and the ship ran onto the rocks at St Martin’s Head. Amongst the lives lost was that of a ‘black boy’.

The press reported that some of the cargo was salvaged, including several hundred elephant tusks, palm oil, two small boxes of gold dust and another of silver dollars. The day-mark was subsequently painted with broad red stripes

A memorial to “a young West African boy” was installed in the graveyard of St Martin’s church. The details of who commissioned the stone are unknown.

In Memory of
A young West African boy,
buried here after the
HOPE was wrecked on
St Martin’s Head due to
mistaking the white
Day-mark for
St Agnes Light-house,
19th January, 1830.
Red stripes were then added
to the Day-mark.
I will set your captives free-
Zech. 9.11

Historic England includes a number of contemporary accounts of the event.

Leave a Reply