Mar 31, 2016 - Sale 2408

Sale 2408 - Lot 86

Price Realized: $ 11,875
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
(SLAVERY AND ABOLIITON--NARRATIVES.) GRONNIOSAW, JAMES ALBERT UKAWSAW. A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself. [viii], [i]-39 pages. 12mo, contemporary full sheep, spine with four bands; faint circular stain, a few light smudges to the title-page, with two contemporary ownership signatures (Sarah Pedder and Deborah Morris). bound in a nonce volume, together with; John Woolman's Serious Consideration on Various Subjects. [1772] (first few pages nibbled at the bottom edge, obscuring the imprint) * Visions in Verse for the Entertainment and Instruction of Younger Minds. London: Dodsley, 1767 * The Fighting Sailor turned Peaceful Christian. London: Hinds, [1767] * and Some Memoirs of the Life of John Roberts. London: Hinds, [1767]. Tipped in at the end of the volume is a 1914 letter addressed to a descendant of one of the original owners of this book, commenting on its contents. Bath: W. Gye [1770?]

Additional Details

one of the earliest printed slave narratives in the english language, and the first published book by an african in great britain. Prince James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (circa 1705-1775) was born in Bornu, Northeastern Nigeria. His family was well-to-do and he received a relatively advanced education, which served to stimulate what was already a lively imagination. So when some traders came with stories of great ships and white skinned people, the youngster decided to run off with them to the Gold Coast. But they instead sold him to a Dutch captain who took him to Barbados where he was sold twice again, the second time to Reverend Theodore Frelinghuysen, an influential New York minister and friend of the evangelical preacher George Whitefield. His mistress and her children introduced him to the religious works of Richard Baxter and John Bunyan and he became quite religious. When his master passed in 1747, automatically emancipating him, he instead chose to remain with the family but they all died within four years. James Albert (his Christian name) decided to go to England where his believed the people to all be good Christians, based on his contacts with a few decent men including the Rev. George Whitfield who had been kind to him while enslaved. After a complex series of events, including joining up with a privateer, he made his way to Britain. There he married Betty, a white English widow with a child, and started a family with her. Gronniosaw worked at odd jobs in Colchester, and Norwich, later moving to Kidderminster to support the family. His autobiography ends with a description of the poverty faced by many black people and the poor in general in Britain: "My wife, by hard labor at the loom, does every thing that can be expected from her towards the maintenance of our family; and God is pleased to incline the hearts of his People at times to yield us their charitable assistance; being myself through age and infirmity able to contribute but little to their support." Gronniosaw did see some money from the sale of his Narrative which went through several printings within his life time. The original cost of publishing, printing and distribution of his Narrative was paid for by Selina Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon, who later paid for the publishing, printing and "book signing party" for Phillis Wheatley's "Poems on Various Subjects" in 1773. Some black scholars have been hard on Gronniosaw in that he is not more critical of the Atlantic slave trade. But then, his experience had been, in large part a fortunate one. On the other hand, his Narrative does provides us with a first-hand account of the treatment of blacks and the poor in general in 18th century Britain. Gronniosaw throughout his story maintains an attitude of abiding faith in some figure of divine providence that watches over and ultimately protects one's soul, if not their body.