Amelia Newsham, the White
Amelia Newsham, an albino enslaved woman,
arrived in London having been sent from Jamaica as a present
from her master to his son. She was sold on to two men who
exhibited her at fairs throughout Britain.
By 1795, she was being exhibited by Thomas Hall at the House
of Curiosities, No. 10 City Road in London. While marvelling
at her unpigmented African features, visitors were treated
to her recitation of the following verse:
My nose, my lips, my
features, all explore,
The just resemblance of a blackamore;
And on my head the silver-coloured wool
Gives further demonstration clear and full.
This curious age may with amazement view
What after ages won't believe is true.
struck with the likeness of the 'White Negress' were also
Mrs Newsham continued to exhibit herself after she gained
her freedom and had met and married an Englishman, with whom
she had six children.
Amelia was the most prominent of a number of young albino
women who were put on display as 'white negresses' in the
18th and 19th centuries.
record is of a 'white negro girl' exhibited at Bartholomew
Fair (London's Smithfield) at 'a penny a look' in the 1740s.
Token for Thomas
depicts a full length figure of a woman in European dress,
with the legend: 'MRS NEWSHAM THE WHITE NEGRESS'. The
reverse has the legend: 'TO BE HAD AT THE CURIOSITY HOUSE
CITY ROAD', as well as the inscription: 'NEAR FINSBURY
SQUARE, LONDON 1795'.
Lewsam (or Newsham)
'The white Negro
woman' was brought from Jamaica in 1754 aged about 5 and was
offered for sale as 'the greatest Phaenomenon ever known'
priced 400 guineas.
A year later she
was exhibited at Charing Cross with a cost of 1 shilling per
head to gawp at her. She was described as having 'all the
features of an Aethiopian with a flaxy woollen head, a skin
and complexion fair as alabaster'.
'exhibited' again at the Bartholemew Fair in 1788 (Fryer,
Thomas Hall was
a taxidermist, curiosity dealer and proprietor of a fine
exhibition of stuffed birds, etc. These trade tickets
advertised his curiosities on exhibit at Finsbury Square and
also touring at Bartholemew Fair, an event renowned for its
It was at
Bartholemew's Fair that he made use of such human exhibits
as Mrs Newsham.
Copper penny token issued
in 1795 by T. Hall for his Exhibition of Curiosities and
An original image below of
Image also depicts a Toucan
situated on the City Road, London. Obverse - An African
woman standing in a long dress, half right, 'Mrs NEWSHAM THE
WHITE NEGRESS'. Reverse -'THE FIRST ARTIST IN EUROPE FOR
PRESERVING BIRDS BEASTS Etc'. Edge - 'MANUFACTURED BY W.
LUTWYCHE BIRMINGHAM'. Diesinker Dixon, manufacturer Lutwyche.
Thomas Hall of No. 10 City Road was a taxidermist, curiosity
dealer and proprietor of an exhibition of stuffed birds and
animals, curiosities and natural phenomena. He was the owner
and exhibitor of the first Kangaroo ever to be brought to
Europe which is an illustration of the importance and
popularity of this establishment in Georgian London.
However, in line with the values of the day, animals were
not the only the exhibits at this museum and sadly deformed
humans, dwarfs and Africans were also put on show as a
curiosity and this penny token advertises one of them.
Amelia Newsham was probably an albino African and there are
records of a 'white negro girl' being exhibited at the
Bartholomew Fair in London at 'a penny a look', some several
years before the date of this token.
It is likely
that Mrs. Newsham was that girl and in 1795 she was in the
'employ' of Thomas Hall. Contemporary accounts describe her
as being the child of black Jamaican parents, she had
African features but white skin and white hair - some four
to six inches long with the Constancy and colour of sheep's
Born a slave in Jamaica, she was sent as a gift from her
owner to his son in London. Later she was sold on to two men
who exhibited her across England. At this point she met and
married an Englishman and from then on she continued to
exhibit herself as the "White Negress", after she gained her
freedom. She was still alive in 1824 for at that date the
Cabinet of Curiosities magazine described her as 'Born in
Kingston Jamaica, arrived in Britain as a young girl where
she married an Englishman by the name of Newsham by whom she
had six children and although white herself, they were all
mullatoes'. She was still exhibiting at that time and would
recite a poem to viewers regarding the amazing curiosity
that she was.
All stories are the
property of Sideshow World & their respective authors.
republication in part or in whole is strictly prohibited.
For more information please
contact us here