Skip to content

The children of slavery: John Kent - Carlisle

Updated Tuesday 17th October 2006

John Kent was Britain's first black policeman - and the child of a former slave.

Carlisle Castle Creative commons image Icon Adam under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

John Kent lived in Carlisle during the 1820s and 1830s. On leaving the police force in 1844, he went to work for the North West Railway. Records show that John's father was Thomas Kent who was brought from the West Indies to work as a servant by the Senhouse family who came from Maryport.

Map of Northern England Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University

Hands on History - Tracing your Family History
Bob Lowther, a retired policeman, turned detective by researching local newspapers to find out more about John Kent. Philippa verified some of the information including whether John was the first black policeman by checking police records and the home office records. She used newspapers, census and parish records to find out about John's family and to produce a family tree.

To start your family tree, the first step is to talk to your immediate family to get names, dates of birth, marriage and death and to find out where they lived.

You can then take it further by looking at church and parish records. You can also find all kinds of sources from the internet:
National Archives
Family Records Centre
Family search for parish records

The BBC and the Open University are not responsible for the content of external websites.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

History & The Arts 

Picturing the family

Besides being simple mementos, family photographs can offer insights into the past. This free course, Picturing the family, looks at some of the ways photographs can reveal, and sometimes conceal, important information about the past. It teaches the skills and provides some of the knowledge needed to interpret such pictorial sources.

Free course
12 hrs
Getting to the heart of the family business Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: John Pinkerton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons article icon

Money & Business 

Getting to the heart of the family business

Meet John and Elizabeth Shaw. For them, their 19th Century firm was all about the family.

Article
Britain's Great War: Download your free 'The First World War Experienced' booklet Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license article icon

History & The Arts 

Britain's Great War: Download your free 'The First World War Experienced' booklet

From casualties to commemoration, explore the realities of war with this free booklet.

Article
Modernism: The Revival (1993 - present) Creative commons image Icon Beatnic under CC-BY-NC licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

Modernism: The Revival (1993 - present)

The mid 1990s saw Modernism reinvented and embraced once again.

Article
Conspiring Against The Queen Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

History & The Arts 

Conspiring Against The Queen

In 1594 Roderigo Lopez was hung, drawn and quartered for trying to poison Queen Elizabeth I. Many historians have argued that he was framed - but David Katz believes he can prove his guilt.

Article
Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Phiz article icon

History & The Arts 

"True" stories of life in the Bastille

British publishers were presumably as disappointed as the French authorities when the Bastille fell, as it had been a source of cheap schlocky copy for years...

Article
Egyptian Mathematics Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: OU article icon

History & The Arts 

Egyptian Mathematics

The classical Greeks believed that mathematics was invented in Egypt but there is disappointingly little evidence of the Egyptians’ mathematical attainments. Dr June Barrow-Green examines the evidence that exists.

Article
The making of Tournament 8: Never work with animals... Creative commons image Icon peprice under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

The making of Tournament 8: Never work with animals...

The Timewatch series about jousting comes together as Saul David mounts his horse.

Article
Lecture Perspective Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

History & The Arts 

Lecture Perspective

Benedikt Stuchtey offers a response to Professor Ian Kershaw's Lecture Hitler's Place in History

Article