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The Story of Reasonable Blackman the Silk Weaver

Watch this narrated audio with images telling the story of Reasonable Blackman the Silk Weaver.
Death had taken little Jane first. His son Edmund died three days later. That left Reasonable, his wife, and five- year-old Edward shut up in their house as the plague continued to ravage the city. The Red Cross on their door was beginning to fade, but they were still locked away in grave danger of infection. Those who could afford to, the sort who liked to wear the fine silk Blackman wove, had left for their country estates long ago. The Silk Weaver and his family, like so many others, had no such luxury. Blackman thought of Jane and Edmund and thanked God he’d been able to bury them in coffins.
There was a churchyard across the river that had run out of space and forbidden coffins altogether. But they had been so tiny, those boxes of wood. He shuddered to think of their small bodies, cold, stiff and lifeless, inside.

In this video narration, actor Paterson Joseph tells the story of Reasonable Blackman.

Reasonable Blackman was an independent skilled silk weaver of African descent and a family man living in Southwark, just outside the City of London.

Southwark in the Tudor period was an area with deprivation and poverty, boasting a large number of alehouses and brothels, as well as five prisons. But it was also a place with thriving artisan trades and crafts, and home to the Rose Theatre.

It was a lively community with a high number of migrants from Europe and beyond, as foreigners could work freely in Southwark but not in the City of London.

The story of Reasonable Blackman continues our investigation of Black Tudors with expertise and skills. We also gain glimpses into Reasonable Blackman’s family life and children, and the community and times he lived in through evidence from Parish Records.

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Black Tudors: The Untold Story

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