Spotty - Ash - Sadie & the Other Leopard People




“For more than 200 years natural philosophers, scientists and showmen have exhibited the bodies of African Americans with white or gradually whitening skin in taverns, dime museums, and circus sideshows. The term White Negro has served to describe individuals born with albinism as well as those who have vitiligo . . .”


From the book, The White African American Body by Charles D. Martin.





What Is Vitiligo?


Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin, the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose and genital and rectal areas), and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball) are destroyed.


As a result, white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The hair that grows in areas affected by vitiligo usually turns white.


The cause of vitiligo is not known, but doctors and researchers have several different theories. One theory is that people develop antibodies that destroy the melanocytes in their own bodies. Another theory is that melanocytes destroy themselves.


Finally, some people have reported that a single event such as sunburn or emotional distress triggered vitiligo; however, these events have not been scientifically proven to cause vitiligo.









The tragic life of the Spotted Boy



He was born on the island of St Vincent with an unusual skin pigmentation which earned him a place on the macabre freak show circuit in England. He died a young boy and is entombed with one the 18th century's greatest showman at All Saints Church in Marlow.


Here DAVID LANGTON follows the story of the Spotted Boy and his extraordinary friendship with Marlow-born showman John Richardson DICKENS wrote about him and Gilbert and Sullivan sung about him in short John Richardson was one of the great entertainers of his time.


The man, born in Marlow, fled his humdrum life as a farm labourer in the riverside town in search of fame and fortune in the big smoke.


His gamble paid off and Mr Richardson died both wealthy and famous.


His journey from country farm hand to celebrated showman is, however, not quite as curious as how he came to rest forever alongside the famous Spotted Boy.


Being on the fair circuit in the early 19th century, Mr Richardson travelled the country and was witness to many strange and unusual sights.


At this time the likes of John Merrick, the tragic elephant man, bearded ladies, and midgets entertained the masses behind cages in the gruesome freakshows.


Mr Richardson came across a sorry young boy at one such show while performing at the famous Bartholemews Fair in Smithfield Market, London.


The Spotted Negro Boy, as he was known, had been brought from the Caribbean island of St Vincent and was afflicted with a skin disorder known as vitiligo a loss of pigmentation in the skin causing permanent white marks.


An elegy at the fair had the lines: "The human monsters shall require renown the spotted Negro and the armless maiden."


Mr Richardson's heart went out to the young boy and he bought him for a small fortune £1,000. Little is known of the boy's history, simply that he arrived in the country through Bristol when he was only 15-months-old and neither of his parents suffered from vitiligo.


Mr Richardson, who never married and had no children of his own, christened the boy George Alexander Gratton.


He was said to have treated him like a son, educating him and taking him on tours around the country. He would sometimes exhibit the boy between the plays he performed.


Doctor G. Lipscombe, the famous 19th century Bucks historian, wrote: "Mr Richardson proves a most benevolent patron to this little orphan and afterwards educated him with the upmost tenderness until his premature death in 1813."


While Mr Richardson had made his mark as a 'penny showman' performing some 21 times a day, he never turned his back on Marlow and was said to have kept close ties with the town.


One can only imagine the look on a the public's face as Mr Richardson walked down the High Street, Marlow, with this unique young boy at his side.


Mr Richardson's renown grew and grew and attracted the attention of luminaries such as Charles Dickens.


He writes in Sketches by Boz: "The immense booth with large stage in front, so brightly illuminated with variegated lamps and pots of burning fat, is Richardson's, where you have a melodrama (with three murders and a ghost), a pantomime, a comic song, an overture and some incidental music all done in five and twenty minutes."


Mr Richardson was described as becoming some type of manger at the fair, where his booth could seat 1,000 people and raise a staggering £1,200 in just three days.


All may have been going well professionally but tragedy was about to strike. His adopted son died in 1813, described as falling victim to our cold climate. He was either four or eight. There is conflicting information as to which age it was.


Devastated by the death, Mr Richardson had the boy buried in a plot he had picked out for himself years earlier at All Saints Church on The Causeway in Marlow.


The boy was buried amidst much pomp and ceremony, although exactly what went on and how lavish the affair was is unreported.


All that is known is an oil portrait of the boy was donated to the church by Mr Richardson. For many years the painting, by Coventry, hung in the vestry where it fell into a state of disrepair.


About ten years ago, a group of concerned Marlovians, headed by Anthony Wethered, had the painting restored and it now hangs above the nursery area at the back of the church.


After the boy's death, the big fairs fell out of fashion, offending public sensibility with their 'vulgarity'.


By 1831 Bartholemews was on its last legs but continued with performances until 1855, being the last surviving fair.


Mr Richardson never lived to see the final demise of his fame and fortune, and died at the age of 70 in November 1837.


As per his wishes he was reunited with the his 'son' and was entombed in the same vault, his headstone bolted to the back of the boy's.


By David Langton 

April 4th 2001     


Article - Links - Mis

The Great Curiosity

George Alexander Gratton

The Wonderful Spotted Indian

Mungo Park








Hand Colored Engraving circa 1834





Nobonti, the Spotted Girl


Leopard Skin African


H Brauer’s fairgrounds, we find The Leopard Skin African, a Freak of Nature and Nobonti, the Spotted Girl, the Wonder of the Nineteenth Century.







Born in Johnson City, Tenn, of Normal Parents.....21.....

Have Four Brothers and two sisters all normal.  Married and have a normal son.  Physicians claim my condition is caused by my mother, being in a delicate condition, was frightened by a spotted pony.

Various hospitals and clinics have tried removing spots from body, but were un-successful...  Hair grows in various shades and lengths on various parts of the body.

Any further questions of my condition may be obtained by writing me personally, thanking you kindly for attending my performances.


                                       Frances Lopez,

                                              Route 3

                                                  Johnson City, Tenn




The Leopard Girl!




The Davis Family
a family with piebald albinism




The Davis Family
a family with piebald albinism



Mungo Park,


The Spotted Boy was discovered in Caffraria, South Africa, by a party of American Travellers, in the year 1868.  There's nothing know of the parentage of this boy.  The Kaffrs, a tribe of negroes, who had possession of him, stated that they had discovered a spotted tribe of negroes in the interior of Africa, and that in pursuit of them they killed several and captured this boy.  By some he is supposed to be a freak of nature, born of negro parents; while others think there may be a spotted race of people in the vast unexplored regions of Africa.  He is now about twelve years old, large of his age, well proportioned, intelligent, and is mottled all over the body white, black and brown, the white spots being of as delicate a purity as the skin of the fairest Caucasian; this variegation extending to the hair, and even to the iris of the eye.  The left eyelash is white, ant the other black.  Apart from the ordinary curiosity attaching to such a phenomenon, it is scientifically interesting as an example of nature's caprice in dermatologied development.




Mungo Park,






















Nabor Zeliz  with Sadie Anderson




"The Leopard Skin Family from Madagascar"














Child with Vitiligo
Brazilian School












Only Leopard Boy




Pony Skinned Boy





 "Spotted Negress" Lemisa Bert





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