John Richard Archer was born on 8 June 1863 at 3 Blake Street,
Liverpool, the son of Richard Archer and his wife Mary Theresa Burns.
Richard was a ship's steward from Barbados, and his wife Mary Theresa
was illiterate, making her mark with an X on the birth certificate.
She was an Irish Catholic, the faith in which John grew up and remained
for the rest of his life.
When he was elected Mayor of Battersea 50 years later, John replied to press speculation about where he might have come from with the remark that he had been born - "in a little obscure village in England probably never heard of until now - the city of Liverpool". He went on to declare - "I am a Lancastrian bred and born".
Characteristically pugnacious, but he had been stung by reports which, guessing wildly, said that he had been born in Rangoon or somewhere in India. He was actually part of the already well-established black population in Liverpool. Blake Street, his birthplace, has now been long demolished, but at the time, it was located in the heart of the city, at the bottom of Mount Pleasant, near the Brownlow Hill Workhouse, an area densely populated with labourers and tradespeople, predominantly Irish, many of them sailors, or connected with shipping. In the decade of the 1860s the Archer family shuttled back and forth between No.7 and No.3 Blake Street , where John Archer was born. There were two other households occupying No.3, and the family had two lodgers, a 50-year-old sailor and a Scottish ship's keeper.
Guest-curated for the British Library by Mike Phillips
Next - 'Battersea and Archer's entry into local politics'