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A mood board of images of old family photos. Caption reads BTCOTC Open Call Volunteers
Poster design: Kylie McNulty. Graphic design: Warren Reilly.

The ‘By The Cut of Their Cloth’ (BTCOTC) project would love to hear from family history researchers interested in volunteering their time to help us uncover mixed race family histories of the London Borough of Brent.

We have a few fascinating leads from newspapers and archives that we’re keen to learn more about in time for our exhibition in March. If you have experience of and access to online genealogical sites and would be able to spare a few hours, we would be very grateful if you could track down any additional information on some of the accounts we’ve uncovered. These include:

  • A Chinese acrobat in Edwardian Britain charged with deserting his Willesden-based Welsh wife, who he said had become ‘too stout’ to perform one of his stage acts.
  • A Black man from Kilburn who, at the end of the nineteenth-century, was reported as wanting custody of the children he had had with his white wife.
  • A white waitress who met her wealthy Indian Muslim husband at the 1924 Wembley exhibition and moved to Bhopal with him after their three month engagement.
  • A Black doctor sued in Willesden Court in the pre-WW1 era for getting his wife’s servant pregnant
Newspaper headline which reads Ruined By Dark Doctor. Girl Takes Poison In Despair.
Newspaper headline that reads 'Anglo-Indian Romance. Wembley waitress in new home. Husband related to Begum of Bhopal.'

Newspaper images ©The British Library Board. All rights reserved. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

We also have the mystery of the ‘Black man’ of Neasden Stud Farm in the 1890s. Labelled as such in a photo at Brent Archives, is he actually a man of colour at all, or is this rather an error made at some point during the archival process? But if so, why? We would love to know!

A group of four people posing for the camera on the lawn outside a large house in 1890s Neasden. One woman is seated slightly apart from the other three. The other woman stands next to a man who is seated in a chair with a small child on his lap.
'Large house with group of people on lawn, including a black man. 1890s'. Courtesy Brent Museum and Archives.
Close up of the man labelled 'a black man' in the Neasden stud farm picture.
Close up of the man labelled 'a black man' in the Neasden stud farm image

If you think you could spare some time to help us look into any of these accounts, please do get in touch!: BTCOTCproject@yahoo.com

To learn more about the project, visit: www.mixedmuseum.org.uk/BTCOTCproject