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Click on the flash or non-flash box to call up the map. Use the scroll bars at the side and the bottom of the page to travel around the map.
Maps are important sources of historical evidence. They can show how crowded an area was and how wide the streets were. This tells us about people’s living conditions. If you look at old maps of an area and compare them to a modern map you can see how much an area has changed over the centuries. Sometimes important buildings are shown on maps. These might be market places or large warehouses or churches. These important buildings also tell us about what was important to the community. Street names can also give information. For example a number of streets in Southwark were called Rope Walk. Rope making was very important in Southwark as the ropes were needed on the ships.

The maps in this section are all places where Black and Asian communities have established themselves going back over three hundred years.

Map of London by Agas, 1572

Map of London by Agas, 1572

For centuries Black and Asian people have lived in London. This map from 1572 gives a distinct impression of London in Tudor times.

Maps can help us understand the experiences of people in the past by giving an idea of where and how people lived.

Parish Map of Hackney, c. 1650

Parish Map of Hackney, c. 1650

Documents from the past tell us that a number of Black and Asian people lived and worked in Hackney. They were employed at the large houses owned by rich families.

One of the earliest records is from the Parish Register of St John at Hackney in 1630.  The burial of Antony , 'a poore negro' took place. The register tells us he was aged 105.

Map of India 1799
Map of India 1799

In 1779 the British declared war on France.

France had possessions in India. The British attacked bringing the European conflict to India.

The French were helped by Haidar Ali, a military leader, who had risen to power in Mysore
Ratcliff 1787

Ratcliff 1787

Eighteenth century London was growing rapidly in response to the expanding empire, trade and industry.

Many Black and Asian people were brought to London either as slaves or servants.

A small number of others were free people who did a variety of different jobs. Some worked on ships or around the docks. Over time communities established themselves near to the docks.

Ratcliff was an important area of settlement in London for Black and Asian communities throughout the eighteenth century.

Cary’s Map of London Showing Red Lion Square, 1787
Cary's Map of London Showing Red Lion Square, 1787

Those people of Black or Asian origin who were brought to work as slaves and servants would often find themselves working in the large houses around places such as Red Lion Square.

Fortunes were made by white landowners who ran sugar and tobacco plantations in the West Indies and tea and coffee plantations in the East Indies.

This money paid for large houses to be built.

Many servants were needed to run them and it was cheaper to bring in Black or Asian people to do that work.

Map of Colombo in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), in 1796

Map of Colombo in Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), in 1796

The British took Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) from the Dutch in 1796. The island was to be jointly ruled by the East India Company and the Crown.

One of the reasons the English wanted Sri Lanka was for its wealthy coffee plantations. The Dutch had first grown coffee on the island in 1658.

Britain's war with France continued. Sri Lanka was in an important position, helping the British to defend its interests in India.


Map of Liberia from the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1831
Map of Liberia from the Gentleman's Magazine, 1831

In the nineteenth century freed Black slaves were encouraged to resettle in Africa.

Liberia was created through negotiations between local rulers and the African American settlers.



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