Sculptor creates memorial to honour black abolitionist Charles Ignatius Sancho

A commemorative plaque to honour the life and marriage of Charles Ignatius Sancho – the black abolitionist – has been unveiled during a ceremony at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey conducted by the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle –  Dean of Westminster. The actor and author Paterson Joseph who wrote The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho was also present and read a letter by Sancho.

London-based sculptor and carver Marcia Bennett Male created the Portland stone memorial in her studio in Woolwich. It also pays tribute to his wife, Ann Osborne and features the quote: "use your endeavour to be a good man and leave the rest to God."

Sancho was born on a slave ship in 1729 and, at two years old was taken to a house in Greenwich where he lived until 1749. It was during this time he met John Montagu – the 2nd Duke of Montagu who would later employ him and help Sancho further his education in the Arts. 

During his life, Sancho worked tirelessly for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and is believed to be the first man of African descent thought to have voted in a British election. He married his wife, Ann Osborne in St Margaret's Church in 1758 – the couples eight children were also baptised there and, following his death in 1780, he was buried in the churchyard there.

On the memorial, Marcia said: "Sometimes an engraving commission can become just another job if you’re not careful. You focus on the letters, the spacing and the depth. You can forget that there’s a person ‘behind’ it. I got into that mindset with the Sancho plaque until I reached a certain point towards the end when the realisation of the deep history regarding the people and the plaques eventual siting came back to me. Very moving."