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
Saving Britain's Past: What's your heritage? Creative commons image Icon By Mukumbura via Flickr under Creative Commons licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

Saving Britain's Past: What's your heritage?

Saving Britain's Past asks you: what do you value of your heritage, and what would you save?

Article
Download your free 'Our Railways' poster Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University article icon

History & The Arts 

Download your free 'Our Railways' poster

Download your free poster on British railways to accompany the OU/BBC series 'Full Steam Ahead'.  

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
The Lloyds Building Creative commons image Icon Bry-Z under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

The Lloyds Building

Blending modernist ideals with sympathy for the surroundings, the Lloyds' insurance building is perhaps a post-modern masterpiece.

Article
Why Do Historians Disagree? Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: photos.com article icon

History & The Arts 

Why Do Historians Disagree?

Hindsight is, supposedly, perfect - and yet history is a deeply controversial subject. John Shaw examines why historians are prone to disagreements about the past

Article
High Street History: Street furniture Creative commons image Icon crabchick under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

High Street History: Street furniture

Take a second look at that post box...

Article
The other space race: Transcript Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

History & The Arts 

The other space race: Transcript

For The Things We Forgot To Remember, Michael Portillo asks if the Space Race was won and lost long before Neil Armstrong took his small step.

Article