Rusholme Road Dissenters' Cemetery

It appears that work is about to start on the removal of remains from a part of the former cemetery in order to build housing. Few details are available at present but a notice has been posted as shown below (Photographs courtesy of Geoff Edge).

In the chapter concerning Rusholme Road, I tell the story of the death of the black boxer James 'Jemmy' Robinson. I was therefore interested to come across a reference in the book Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain by Peter Fryer on Google Books. Fryer writes:

 Jemmy Robinson

Born a slave in Virginia, Jemmy Robinson worked his passage to Liverpool in 1840. He was 17, weighed 1261b., and stood 5ft 7in. In quick succession, sponsored by a promoter called Young Notley, he beat Jemmy Evans, Johnny Peach, Charles Mallen, and Enoch Horridge, the Salford 'Pocket Hercules'. At 21, Robinson was recognized as the best and cleverest boxer or his weight in Europe. But he fell victim to the cholera epidemic of 1849 and died within 36 hours. 'His splendid manners and general good conduct had made him a likeable fellow and his death shocked an army of friends. Had he been able to continue he undoubtedly would have gone down in ring history as one of the greatest colored fighters of all time.'

 The reference to his birth in Virginia is almost certainly incorrect. Contemporary accounts at the time of his death say his father was born in Scotland (Paisley?) and came to Manchester, where James was born, and that he was a herbalist or similar. The 1841 census has a reference HO107/574/11 for Manchester, St. George as follows

Blakeley Street

John Robinson             30          Medicine Vendor          S
Ann Robinson              25                                              Y
James Robinson           13                                              Y
John Robinson             9                                                Y
George Robinson         7                                                Y
William Robinson         2                                                Y
Sarah Slater                 20          FS                                Y

This would match what is known of James and his family, including a mention that he had a brother George, who also became a boxer. The final column refers to where born, Y meaning the same county (Lancashire) and S meaning Scotland.

The contemporary accounts agree that Robinson was 20 years old when he died in 1849 and so he clearly could not have been 17 years old in 1840.