Kennington walk: ‘The Black man and his party’: William Cuffay, Kennington and the Chartists

Saturday 9 October 2021

William Cuffay was born in 1788, a man of African heritage, his father, Chatham Cuffay, had previously been enslaved and was originally from St. Kitts.

Cuffay, a tailor and political activist, was one of the main organisers of the large Chartist rally on Kennington Common on 10 April 1848, the Chartists were a mass movement petitioning the government for democratic reform and the Common was a popular site for protest meetings.

Months later Cuffay was arrested and convicted of preparing acts of treason, sentenced to 21 years penal transportation to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) where he spent the rest of his life.


William Cuffay – ‘The Black man and his party’ as the press described him – wasn’t the only important Black activist in the story of Kennington Common. Abolitionist, Robert Wedderburn, son of an enslaved West African woman in Jamaica, preached here on the site of what is now St Mark’s Church.

Join the Friends of Kennington Park to walk in the footsteps of Black British radical leaders like Cuffay and Wedderburn.

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