New memorial for Ignatius Sancho

Saturday, 14th October 2023

New memorial for Ignatius Sancho

Charles Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729-1780) who escaped from a background of slavery and rose to distinction in Georgian London, having his portrait painted by society artist, Thomas Gainsborough, will be honoured alongside his wife, Anne Osborne when a new memorial is dedicated in their memory in St Margaret’s Church, next to Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 19th December.

St Margaret’s is the church where they married on 17th December 1758, and where their eight children were baptised. Today it is known as the parish church of the House of Commons. Amongst his other achievements as a writer, composer, actor and abolitionist,  Sancho is the first man of African descent thought to have voted in an election, and to have an obituary published in the national newspapers.
The new memorial which will be on the north east wall of St Margaret’s Church is the initiative of The Equiano Society which celebrates the life and work of Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797), and the achievements of his contemporaries.
Equiano was an author who campaigned for an end to the transatlantic slave trade, and was baptised in St Margaret’s Church while he was still enslaved. A memorial to Equiano carved by sculptor, Marcia Bennett-Male was dedicated in the church on 9th February 2009. The new memorial to Ignatius Sancho and Anne Osborne will also be carved Marcia Bennett-Male, and funded by an award from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. 
The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, MBE, the Dean of Westminster, said: 
“We look forward to celebrating Ignatius Sancho and Anne Osborne in the church where some of the most significant moments of their lives took place. In an autumn season of events, we will reflect on human dignity.
It is a dignity that we all enjoy as a gift of God in creation and which we see perfected in a man rejected, despised and suffering. It is a dignity which Sancho claimed proudly as an ‘African’, a dignity that must be celebrated and which only flourishes in us when we see it in others.”
Arthur Torrington CBE, founder of The Equiano Society and co-founder of the Windrush Foundation, said:
“It is important that Ignatius Sancho and Anne Osborne will be honoured with a memorial in St Margaret’s Church and, it is especially significant for Anne as the role of women in history can often be overlooked."

Dignity season

The celebration of the lives of Ignatius Sancho and Anne Osborne are part of ‘Dignity’, an autumn season of events by the Abbey to remember the contribution of those whose impact on national life may have been overlooked or forgotten.