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Britain's Black Past$
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Gretchen H. Gerzina

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621600

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621600.001.0001

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Within the Same Household: Fanny Coker

Within the Same Household: Fanny Coker

Chapter:
(p.141) Chapter Eight Within the Same Household: Fanny Coker
Source:
Britain's Black Past
Author(s):

Christine Eickelmann

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789621600.003.0009

Fanny Coker is the focus of this chapter by Christine Eickelmann. She represents a group of women whose stories have been mostly lost to British history—plantation-born domestic servants. Eickelmann outlines what we know of Fanny’s timeline: Born on the Mountravers sugar plantation on Nevis to an enslaved black woman and, likely, the white plantation manager, Fanny spent her adult life in England working for the family of Mountravers’ owner, John Pinney who freed and educated her. Settling in Bristol with the Pinneys, Fanny was separated from family and the plantation community and left to navigate a new country and employer dynamics on her own. Choosing to stay with the Pinneys her whole life, Eickelman describes how she maintained connections to family in the West Indies through letters, gifts and one extended visit, and was part of a larger network of information and economic exchange across the Atlantic. Operating under the strictures of her employer as a lady’s maid under annual contract, she managed to be baptized in the Baptist church, build financial security through investments and an inheritance and, unlike most of her plantation counterparts, realize some agency over shaping her life. Learning about Coker’s life, says Eickelmann, is an important window into the stories of black servants, especially women, in Georgian England.

Keywords:   Fanny Coker, female domestic servants, Bristol, Baptist church, Mountravers plantation, John Pinney

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