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.

This page was published over five years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see our Archive and Deletion Policy

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.





Related content (tags)

Copyright information

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

Have a question?