A sin­gle woman in ru­ral Eng­land

Cat­te­lena of Al­monds­bury sold but­ter and milk from her most prized pos­ses­sion, a cow

BBC History Magazine - - Black Tudors - Mi­randa Kauf­mann is a se­nior re­search fel­low at the In­sti­tute of Com­mon­wealth Stud­ies, and au­thor of Black Tu­dors: The Un­told Story (Oneworld Pub­li­ca­tions, 2017)

Cat­te­lena was an in­de­pen­dent, un­mar­ried “sin­gle­woman” who lived in the small Glouces­ter­shire vil­lage of Al­monds­bury, not far from Bris­tol, un­til her death in 1625. Her His­panic-sound­ing name sug­gests that, like many oth­ers, she had ar­rived in Eng­land via the Span­ish or Por­tuguese-speak­ing worlds. She may have orig­i­nally come to Al­monds­bury via Bris­tol or as a ser­vant to one of the lo­cal gen­try fam­i­lies, such as the Ch­ester fam­ily of nearby Knole Park.

Cat­te­lena was one of a num­ber of Africans liv­ing in ru­ral Eng­land. Par­ish reg­is­ters record the bap­tisms and buri­als of Africans, or the chil­dren of Africans, in vil­lages in Corn­wall, Cam­bridgeshire, Devon, Dorset, Glouces­ter­shire, Kent, Northamp­ton­shire, Som­er­set, Suf­folk and Wilt­shire. The ear­li­est of th­ese is the burial of “Thomas Bull, niger” in Ey­don, Northamp­ton­shire in 1545.

An in­ven­tory sur­vives of the goods Cat­te­lena owned. Th­ese in­cluded bed­ding, pots and pans, a pewter can­dle­stick, a tin bot­tle, a dozen spoons, cloth­ing and a cof­fer. Her most valu­able pos­ses­sion was a cow, which not only sup­plied her with milk and but­ter but al­lowed her to profit from sell­ing th­ese prod­ucts to her neigh­bours. No fur­ni­ture is listed, which sug­gests she may have shared her home, per­haps with He­len Ford, the widow who ad­min­is­tered her es­tate.

Cat­te­lena’s pos­ses­sions – from her cook­ing uten­sils to her ta­ble cloth – each tell us some­thing of her life. But the fact that she had them at all tells us even more. Africans in Eng­land were not owned, but them­selves pos­sessed prop­erty.


EVENT Mi­randa Kauf­mann is dis­cussing black Tu­dors at BBC His­tory Mag­a­zine’s His­tory Week­end in York. his­to­ry­week­end.com


Mi­randa Kauf­mann dis­cusses Africans’ role in Tu­dor voy­ages of dis­cov­ery on our pod­cast his­to­ryex­tra.com/pod­cast/ african-his­tory-spe­cial BBC His­tory Mag­a­zine

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.