Reference Number: L0433/1
Date: 7-10 October 1689
Extent: 1 item
Provenance: From a collection of newspapers and press cuttings in a large volume titled ‘Old Newspapers Relating to Lloyd’s’. The volume was made in c.1912 by Mr Gillman of the British Museum.

Description: This is an advert placed in the newspaper, The London Gazette, seeking the capture and return for a reward of an enslaved or bound and indentured servant, who had resisted by escaping to freedom in running away from their owner or Master. ‘Runaway’ adverts show that the history of enslavement was not solely located in the plantation colonies but also in London, and elsewhere in England. Edward Lloyd’s coffee house is revealed as a site to which captured freedom seekers were returned and just one of the centres in the City of London of these networks. As Simon P. Newman writes: ‘these short newspaper notices make clear, their engagement extended to a clear desire to establish and protect racial bondage within London and England, and an enthusiasm to make use of the new print media to lay claim to ownership of people of colour who resisted by escaping. As such the runaway advertisements published in seventeenth and eighteenth century London functioned as an assertion by enslavers of the legitimacy of their status as legal owners of enslaved people.’ [‘Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London’, University of London Press, 2022, p. xxvi]. In this instance, the freedom-seeker is not even named but is racially described as a ‘Tawnymoor’. ‘Tawny’ was a term denoting brown or light brown skin and ‘Moor’ was a British-used designation for a person from any dark-skinned group of peoples, especially sub-Saharan African. Most ‘runaway adverts’ provide descriptions based on personal appearance, clothes or bodily characteristic, occasionally providing a name. The enslaved or bound person is not named but described as ‘about 20 years of Age, bow-Legg’d, with a light-coloured Coat, white Wastcoat and a Shammy pair of Breeches.’ The advert requests he is returned to either Captain John Bradyll of Redriff-Wall or Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House on Tower Street for a reward of 20 shillings. Simon P. Newman writes, ‘Newspaper advertisements like this are often the only surviving documentary evidence of the people who attempted escape, revealing little more than a few, sketchy details of freedom seekers whose interior lives are all but invisible. These fragments are inherently problematic sources, constructed by White men and women who controlled the definition of enslaved people within brief newspaper advertisements just as they asserted ownership and control over them in life. ‘Runaway slave’ advertisements rendered the people they described as property and as criminally fugitive: by their very nature, these advertisements became part of the process of the commodification and depersonalization of enslaved people. Historians today who collate and analyse these advertisements engage in an act of remediation that risks continuing the datafication of enslaved people.,, Runaway advertisements described and defined people in ways that denied their full humanity and agency, and it is essential that we allow ourselves to imagine the people behind the text. By imagining the full humanity of these freedom seekers, we refuse to be bound by an incomplete and biased archive that does little more than define these people by their enslaved status.’ (‘Freedom Seekers: Escaping from Slavery in Restoration London’, University of London Press, 2022, p. xxiv & xxv) Such archival records, constructed by the enslavers, provide the earliest evidence of Lloyd’s involvement with historic enslavement. They reach back to Lloyd’s origins in Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House, first opened in Tower Street in the late 1680s. John Strype described Tower Street in 1720 as ‘a great Thorough-fair to and from Wapping, the Tower, St. Katherine’s, and those Parts bordering upon the Thames, replenished with Seafaring Persons’. Lloyd’s was a network of merchants, ship captains, wealthy investors and others who were all to varying degrees engaged in the creation of both the transatlantic slave trade and colonial plantation slavery. Previous historians of Lloyd’s have used newspaper adverts to evidence the foundation of Lloyd’s; the first advert to mention Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House was in The London Gazette of 18-21 February 1688 and this and other adverts for ‘runaway slaves’ were used to demonstrate the connection between Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House with marine merchants, shipbrokers and captains (see: Frederick Martin, ‘The History of Lloyd’s…’, 1876, pp.62-64). These were some of the very first advertisements to appear in London’s (and England’s) earliest newspapers, appearing alongside notices offering property, goods including ships, for sale or auction, or seeking the return of lost or stolen goods. The University of Glasgow’s project ‘Runaway Slaves in Britain: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century’ states: ‘There were a significant number of people of colour in eighteenth-century Britain. Most were African or of African descent, while a smaller number were South Asian and a few were indigenous Americans. Many had been brought by their masters from Africa, the Caribbean, North America and South Asia, usually to work as domestic servants, but sometimes as craftsmen or as sailors. A few were free, others were legally bound to work for their masters for set periods, and some were enslaved. Britons who traded with or spent time in the colonies were well used to referring to both South Asians and indigenous Americans as ‘Indians’ and while some advertisements make clear the place of origin of the person described, others are far less clear.’ ( The presence of a growing community of the Global majority in seventeenth-century London is revealed by their appearance in surviving parish records. More than 700 men, women and children were identified in parish records between 1600 and 1710. See London Metropolitan Archive’s project Mapping Black London: and Switching the Lens database:[lma]through-the-lens.html&utm_source=col&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=switching-the-lens

Notes: For more information on Freedom-seekers and Lloyd’s see the Underwriting Souls exhibit “The Origins of Lloyd’s”