The enslaved African girl, whose name was given as Myrtilla, only had a gravestone left as a memorial. It is located at the St. Lawrence Parish Church in Oxhill, Warwickshire, where she resided in the first half of the 18th century.
An inscription on it gives brief information about her identity, her master, the day of her baptism, and the day of her funeral. According to scholar Remi Kapo, it is one of the earliest African-born person’s tombs in Britain. She may have been a slave who served Thomas Beauchamp, based on the gravestone’s specifics.
It had Myrtilla’s age prior to the grave’s repair in 1969 and its move to the graveyard in the 1970s. Myrtilla should be 112 years old in 2022 if historical data is to be believed, which would indicate that she passed away in 1910. Since 1988, her grave has been classified as Grade II.
According to the Migration Museum, Myrtilla is one of the few enslaved Africans who had the privilege of having a tombstone in Britain to symbolize the miseries of slavery and their protracted sea voyage to the new country. Their labor and presence go back to the time when the Roman Empire controlled large portions of what is now Britain.
Early in the 18th century, the Beauchamp family migrated to England due to their stake in the sugar industry on Nevis. It is quite likely that Myrtilla moved in with them when they relocated due to her enormous value to the family. There are no mentions of the services she rendered under the family’s supervision.
The gravestone for Myrtilla was uncovered as a result of researcher Barbara Willis-efforts Brown’s to learn more about the black history of the Oxhill neighborhood. A historical artifact discovered during the search was the Oxhill parish register from 1690, which recorded the occasion of Margaret Lucy’s baptism, another enslaved African girl. Will Archus, an adult male African slave, was likewise baptized in 1700, in accordance with the Guardian.
According to the Oxhill village website, Thomas Beauchamp was connected to all three of the Africans who were held as slaves. According to legend, Thomas Beauchamp wed one of the twin daughters of the Oxhill rector.
Evidence from the website suggests that the slaveowner made sure all three of his slaves received proper baptism, which may have contributed to Myrtilla’s proper burial.
There are theories that Thomas Beauchamp’s humanity may have been the reason Myrtilla was given the chance to receive a tombstone.
However, there is no information on what might have caused Myrtilla’s passing. The researcher made the assumption that she might have passed away after a brief sickness or that she was unable to withstand the severe weather.
According to Ian Grosvenor, professor of urban educational history at Birmingham University, the English’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade may have contributed to the existence of Africans in slavery. Despite this, there were also Black Roman troops present who were a part of the legion stationed in Britain.