101: Blacks and the Salvation Army in England, 1880-1892
Salvationist Gilbert Lennison had worked in a steel works in Sheffield before he settled in Rotherham where he lived with his wife and her four children. Upset by the cost of those children, the African American threw a pair of scissors and was charged with assault in December 1880 (Sheffield Independent 4 December 1880, p 15). The website freebmd has Gilbert Lenison (sic) marrying in Sheffield in late 1877. In Bridgwater, Somerset an Army parade on 22 June 1881 included, carrying the banner, ‘a man of colour’ (Bristol Mercury 23 June 1881).
Army parades were often attacked, and Captain William Ley was attacked by three men in Notting Hill, London in July 1882. Joseph Roker, a black Salvationist, told the court he was attacked as he carried the banner. One man was sent to prison for a month; the other two left the court free men (Daily News 17 August 1882).
Thomas Joshua Darkin of Colchester, Essex, was known as ‘the Hallelujah Darkie’. He was seen by many in that town, selling copies of the Army’s War Cry (Essex Standard 19 August 1882, p 2; Bury and Norwich Post 22 August 1882, p 6). Foolish behaviour at the Army’s centre led to a charge of assaulting a woman and Darkin went to prison for twelve months, a matter that was widely reported (Belfast News-Letter, Birmingham Daily Post, and Daily News [London] all 3 November 1882).
Animosity to Salvationists was seen in a report in the Hull Packet (15 June 1883) which told of a parade in the seaside resort of Scarborough in 1882 with a black man dancing and playing a tambourine in front of his marching colleagues. A horse was upset and threw the female rider; such ‘music hall and circus type’ publicity should be stopped.
In mid-1886 Salvation Army officer, the black John Rogers of Sheffield, married Harriet Walker in Worksop (Sheffield Independent 18 June 1886). Website freebmd notes his name as John Augustus Rogers.
In 1892 the widow of Liberia’s first president, Jane Rose Roberts (see page 051), was associated with another US-born Liberian, Martha Ricks who had made a quilt and had come to England to present it to Queen Victoria. In late July, after the two visited Windsor Castle and met the monarch, they attended a Salvation Army meeting in London and met founder-General William Booth (Daily News and Pall Mall Gazette both 26 July 1892.