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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.

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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.

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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

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