Fortunatus

What's in a Name?

By Jill Barber

Fortunatus, Cheshunt Baptism Register, 1570
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Settlement Examination, Cheshunt
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Parish registers are a key source for finding out about the ‘hidden histories’ of African Caribbean people in Hertfordshire. Two documents among Cheshunt parish records have a curious connection.

‘Fortunatus, a blackmoore of the age of 17 or 18 years’

Fortunatus is the earliest person of African descent to have been traced in Hertfordshire to date.   Nearly 200 years after this baptism, a settlement examination reveals a Mr Fortune Natus and his wife Judith Natus, also in Cheshunt.

How are the two related? Black servants usually married local women; this suggests there may be hundreds, or thousands, of people in Hertfordshire today who have an unknown African ancestor.   [D/P29/13/5]

This page was added on 16/10/2009.

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