The only surviving manuscript letters of Ignatius Sancho


These are the only surviving manuscript letters of Ignatius Sancho, the most famous Anglo-African in 18th-century Britain. According to Joseph Jekyll’s 1782 biography, Sancho was born on a transatlantic slave ship and brought to England as a child. He managed to secure help from the noble Montagu family and became a shopkeeper, composer and an accomplished writer.

Who are these letters addressed to?

Twelve of these letters are written from Sancho to his friend William Stevenson (1750‒1821), a publisher and painter who trained under Sir Joshua Reynolds. Three letters are addressed to William’s father, the Reverend Seth Ellis Stevenson (d. 1796). The final seven are written by Sancho’s children, William Leach Osborne (or Billy, 1775‒1810) and Elizabeth (1766‒1837), thanking William Stevenson for his financial support after their parents’ death.

Letters in Sancho’s handwriting (ff. 1r‒23v)

Sancho’s 15 manuscript letters (dated 1776‒80) mention friends from all walks of life – his West Indian brother-in-law John Osborne, the aspiring writer John Highmore, the author Laurence Sterne and the Duke of Queensberry. The letters convey Sancho’s literary sophistication, warmth and gentle humour. He quotes Shakespeare but then laughs at himself for trying to flaunt his ‘erudition, and strut like the fabled bird in his borrow’ d plumage’ (f. 1r). Often he uses a playful, unconventional style, influenced by Sterne’s writing. These letters are peppered with dashes, asterisks, interruptions and self-reflexive remarks on letter writing: ‘I hate fine hands ‒ & fine Language. Write plain honest nonsense’ (f. 16v).

Sancho: Political commentator, family man, shopkeeper

At times, the letters demonstrate sharp engagement with current affairs. He condemns English politicians, saying ‘I am Sir an Affrican – with two ffs – if you please - & proud am I to be of a country that knows no politicians – nor lawyers … nor Thieves’ (f. 17r‒v).

We see Sancho at the heart of his large family, showing love and admiration for his West Indian wife, Anne: she is ‘truly [my] best part – without a Single tinge of my defects’. He gives a poignant description of Anne staying up for nearly ‘thirty nights’ as their five-year-old daughter Kitty is dying (f. 16r).

We also catch frequent glimpses of Sancho’s life as a grocer. He sends Reverend Stevenson ‘Scotch Snuff’, sugar lumps, coffee and ‘the best Turkey Berrys’ (f. 14r‒v). But he also receives generous gifts: ‘Black puddings & Sausages & four of the best pork pyes Ever tasted’ (f. 12v).

Letters from Elizabeth (ff. 24r‒28v; 34r‒v) and William Sancho (ff. 29r‒32v)

The letters from Elizabeth, dated 1818‒19, are very rare examples of writing by a black woman in 19th-century England, a time when most people were illiterate. Though Elizabeth’s handwriting is less self-assured than her father’s, she has clearly received an education. For some reason, one note has been written on her behalf by her cousin (f. 27r‒v). In the last of Elizabeth’s letters (f. 28r), she presents William Stevenson with her ‘dear fathers portrait’ painted by Thomas Gainsborough.

An offprint of a pamphlet about Gainsborough’s portrait is bound with this manuscript (ff. 33r‒v; 35r‒36v).

Facsimile of a letter from Laurence Sterne to Sancho (f. 37r‒v)

In 1766 Sancho wrote to Laurence Sterne – one of his favourite authors ‒ asking him to ‘give half an hours attention to slavery’. This is a handwritten copy of Sterne’s reply on 27 July. Sterne reveals that he is already writing ‘a tender tale’ about ‘a friendless poor negro-girl’ and hopes to weave it into the final volume of Tristram Shandy. Revealing his horror of the slave trade, he says it ‘casts a sad shade upon the world that so great a part of it are … bound … in Chains of Misery’. The two men exchanged many letters and eventually met. Their correspondence was published in a posthumous edition of Sterne’s Letters (1775), and it made Sancho famous. As Vincent Carretta has highlighted, they are ‘the first published challenges to slavery and the slave trade by a person of African descent’.

Further information

A summary of each letter is given in the British Library catalogue. Nine of the letters were published posthumously in Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (1782) with some variations. In places, the manuscript has been marked up with sections to be cut before publication. All 15 of the letters written by Ignatius Sancho (but not those by his children) are published in Vincent Carretta's 2015 edition.

The manuscript collection also includes the fifth edition of Sancho’s Letters (1803), printed for Sancho’s son William, who became the first black publisher in the Western world. This copy has handwritten notes and an index made by William Stevenson and his son Seth.


Charles Street Novr: 26th – 1776.
Young says, ‘A Friend is the Balsam of Life’ – Shakespear
Says – but why should I pester you with quotations
– to shew you the depth of my Erudition – & strut like the
fabled Bird in his borrowed plumage – in good honest truth
my worthy friend – I rejoice to see thy name at the bottom
of the Instructive page & were fancy and invention as
much my familiar Friends as they are thine – I would
write thee an answer – (or try, at least) as Agreeably
Easy – & as Politely Simple – mark that: Simplicity
is the Characteristic of good writing – which I have
learn't among many other good things of your
honor – & for which I am proud to thank you –
in short I would write like you – think like you (of
Course) & do like you – but as that is impossible, I must
Content myself with my old trick – now what that
trick is – thou art Ignorant – & so thou shalt
Remain – till – I congratulate you upon your
Recovery – Apropos – you began your leter – Ill,
as we do many things – in common life – 10 days
Elapsed before you finish'd it – Consequently you
finish'd it – well – My dear Friend – may you

through gods Blessing – Ever finish hapily – Every
thing you undertake – however unpromising the
Beginning may appear to be – I want you much
in town – for my own sake – thats a stroke of
Self love! – & do you Mean to bring any Candles
up with you – that's another! – I do not wonder
at your making your way amongst the folkes
of Hull – although – there are four of the same
profession – we love Variety – I will give them Credit
for admiring the Artist – but if they – that is –
two or three of them – have penetration to look
deeper – & love the Man – then I shall believe that
there are Souls – in Hull – So my Cramp Epistle
fell into the hands of thy good & Revd. father – tant
pis – Why he must think me Blacker – than I am –
Monsr. Bareallet goes on well – I suppose you
know – he has Opened an Academy in St. Albans
Street – at 2 guineas a year – naked figures 3
Nights a week – Mr Mortimer – & several
Eminent names – upon his list – & Room left
for yours – he hops about – with that festevity

of countenance – which denotes ‘peace’ – & good will
to man – I have added to my felicity – or fortune
more properly has – three worthy friends – they are
Admirers & friends of Mortimer & Sterne – but of this – when
we meet! – you are expected at Burleigh House
upon your Return – & I hope you will call on them
if consistent with your time. & agreeable to you.
My friend Lincoln is in town, & intends trying his
fortune amongst us – as teacher of Murder – &
neck – breaking – alias – fencing & Riding – the tartars
I believe have few fine gentlemen among them – &
they can ride – tho they have Neither fencing nor
Riding Masters – & as to genteel Murder – we are
mere Pedlars & novices – for they can dispatch a whole
Caravan – or a Hoorde – & eat & drink – wench & laugh –
& in truth – so far – they can Match our Modern fine
Gents – they have no Acquaintance with Conscience –
but whats all this to you – Nothing – it helps to
fill up the sheet – & looks like moralizing – the
good natur'd Partiality of thy honest heart – will
deem it – not absolutely nonsense – alas – thus
it oft happens, that the Judgment of a good head

is – bumfiddled – & wrong bias'd by the weakness
of a too Kind heart – under that same weakness
let me shelter my failings & absurditys – & let me
Boast at this present writing – that my heart
is not very deprav'd – & has this proof – of not
being dead to virtue – it beats stronger at the
Sound of Friendship – & will be sincerely attach'd to
Wm Stevenson, Esq – while its pulsations Continue
to throb in the breast of yr Obligd Ign Sancho

do pray think about Returning – the
Captain! – the Girls! – the house –
the court! – stand all – just where they
did – when you left them – alas –
time leaves the marks of his Rough fingers
upon all things – time shrivels female
faces – & sours small Beer – gives insignificance
if not Impotency to trunk hose – & toughness
to cow beef – alas! – alas! – alas! –

No. 5
I have seen poor Mr. de Grote but once
& then could not attend to speak with him –
as I had Customers in the shop – I waited by
Appointment upon Mr Comyns – to get yr honors
address – & then 3 weeks – before I
Could get the franks – a fortnight since
for Mr Gideons writing to you – I call
this a string of Beggarly Appologys –
I told Meheux you expected a line from
him – he wanted faith – I made him Read
yr letter – & what then – truly he was not
Capable – he had no Classical Education – you
write with Elegance – Ease propriety –
tut Quoth I – my Bum in a hatbox – man!
Prithee – give not the Reins to pride – write as
I do Just the Effusions of a warm tho foolish
heart – Friendship will Cast a Veil of Kindness
over thy Blunders – they will be accepted with a
complacent smile: & Read with the same Eye of
Kindness – which Indulges now the Errors of his
Sincere Friend I Sancho

October 24th 1777
A true Genius will always Remember
to Leave a Space – unwritten – to Come in
Contact with the wax or wafer – by which
Means – the Reader Escapes – half an hours
Puzzle to Make out a Sentence – & Ever
while you live – never Omit – no –
not – that – what! – what! – dates! – dates! –
am not I a Grocer? –
pun the 2d

No. 7 Octbr 22d 1778
My Dr friend
have you never – beheld – a Bust with
double – no! – not double – but with
two Very diferent profiles – one Crying
& one Laughing – thats just my
Situation at Present – for poor
De Groote – huzza – is Presented to
the Charter house – by – Bless him –
the good Arch XXXX Bishop of Canterbry,
but, by a standing law, he can not be
admitted till a Fresh Quarter begins –
& as he says – he may be dead by that
time – we will hope not – well this is
the Laughing Side. – The Duke of
Queensberry died this morning –
alas – ‘I ne'er shall look upon his like again’

the Clearest Head & Humanest of Hearts
I have – in common with many –
many – a Heavy loss – I loved the
good Duke – & not without Reason –
he is Gone to Reap a Reward – that
St Paul could not Conceive – in the
flesh – & which I will be bold to
say – they both – Perfectly
Enjoy – at this moment. God
of his Mercy Grant – that thee & I,
& all I love – yea & all I know
may Enter Eternity with as promising
hopes – & Realize the Happiness – in store
for such as the Duke of Queensberry

Lord Lincoln dy'd on
his passage – the
News came Last Night
But he has Left a son
& daughter –
Highmore is well – but
still plagued with his uncouth
Kinsfolks – adieu yrs &c. &c.
I Sancho
Kitty very poorly.
The Rest all well.

Mr Stevenson

No 11 Saturday Dec 19. 1778.
Dr Friend
Yr Last Leter – is a Jewel honey –
Which has properly puzzled the head
of my betters – & sufficiently Revenged
the propestis il maddi tergivisimin – of
the Complainant – Swift was a Novice
to thee – all Hail, to Labyrintho Mazeo
inexplicable Dr Stevano – well but about
this same Turkey – I sent the 3 –
as directed by Mungo Curridge –
you are a Precious deviner – you
saw at the Inn a Large Basket of
Prog – heard my Great Brother –
Crack about the Contents – one spare
Rib – and that the Conclusion of the
whole – & so wisely defer'd yr intended
– pray no more of these Cheating
Conjectures – but send me the Bird.

I have not time to write a Long
Leter at present. Saturday is
a Busy day you know – & so
God Bless you. dame Sancho
is well – Kitty Remains so-so.
The girls – are informed you
sing a good Song – have form’d
Great Expectations – & intend to
draw upon you at sight –
write me a decent plain &
intelegible Letter – a Leter that
a Body may Read with Pleasure
& improvement – none of your
Circumroundabouts – you will like
the smell – of the fag End of friend
Highmores Leter. – Kiss it –
Yr && in haste I Sancho

No 8 Novr: 14th 1778
Dr friend
yrs by my Brother – Gave me Money
– & what was More pleasing to me
a tolerable Account of yr Success –
the Lateness of the Season Consider'd – Come
Brighten up – My Brother Priddie has
Left us – happier than he found us – &
tho we have not intirely Effected our
Wishes – we have succeeded beyond our
Expectation – Humility – is the test of
Christianity – & Parent of many – if
not of all the Virtues – But we will talk this
over – when you Return from Grape
Stuff Geese – & fine Girls – Highmore
seems – to be in better favor with her
Goddesship Lady fortune – his affair will
do – he will stand a fo. Chance of Rising.
I wish from my soul – som thing Good.

in the same Line – was destined for
you – but have Courage – time &
patience Conquer all things –
I hope you will Come home soon – &
Leave a foundation – for better fortune
next year – at Bury & its friendly
Neighborhood. – Kitty – is very poorly –
Gods will be done – I wish the widow
Joy – her Child is Eas'd – I have a horid
story to tell you about the – Zounds

I am interrupted – Adieu God keep
Yrs &c. &c. I Sancho

the Corrounna is & was
unballested – & Every Identical
[smoro?] squash'd –
Mrs. Sancho & girls
& Billy all their Comps. &c.
& pray all our Respective Loves
& Best Wishes to the Friendly
circle at Barton – Every where Else.

Mr Stevenson

Decbr 5th 1778
Revd. & Honrd. Sir,
I have just now Receiv'd your too
Valuable favor – forgive me Good Sir
if I own I felt hurt – at the Idea of
the Trouble & Cost – you (from a
Spirit too Generous) have been put
to – & for what my Good Sir –
your son has shew'd me many
Kindnesses – & his Merits are such
as will spontaneously Create him
the Esteem of those who have the
pleasure of Knowing – him –
it is honoring me to suppose I Could
be of Service to him – Accept then good
Sir of my thanks & Mrs Sanchos – & be
Assured you have Seven fold Over paid –
any common Kindness I could Render
your deserving son & my Friend

I wish he was here to partake of
yr Bountiful Treat – for well do I
know his filial heart would Exult
& his Eyes beam with Love & Respect.
Mrs Sancho joins me in Respectful
acknowledgements & thanks, to Mrs
Stevenson & self. We are Dear Sir
your Most Obligd Serts
Ign & A Sancho

PS by the date Sir – if yrs the
Carrier has been Neglectful –
the pyes are Excellent & the Chines
& Sausages. – not at all hurt but
Fresh & Sweet – altho I imagine they
have been unduly Kept – I should not
have mentioned it but to Exculpate
my self. From any seeming neglect
in answering yr Goodness – &&

No.9 Decbr 5th 1778

What thou art about – is best known
to thy self – I will only Venture to
hope thou are doing well – I saw
Mr Cummings very lately – he talked
Very Friendly of his Stevenson – Squire
Highmore – gives me the friendly Call
& in good sorts – seems ten years younger
& Carys Content in his face – you owe
this scrawl to Mr Cottons Leter which
I suppose is of Consequence as he wishd
me to send it in a frank – Mrs Sancho
is tolerable. Kitty but Very Indifferent –
the Rest & yr humble servt Well Enough.
Give my Love & Respects to Mr & Mrs Brown
When you see them – & the same to Mr &
Mrs Simons – Simons will make you
a sportsman – but pray Remember – that
painting is more profitable than shooting.

My love to Brother Osborn &
Mrs Osborn when you see them
this is my Busy day – so God
Bless thee – Where Ever thee art
& direct thee for the best prayeth
Thy sincere Friend I Sancho

Mr Stevenson

Decbr 14th 1778
Sir I Expect
an answer
Yrs I S                   No.10
Our Friend Highmores – Head & Heart
are fully Occupied – with Schemes! – plans! –
Resolves! – &c &c. in which, (to his imortal
Honor) the weal & welfare of his Stevenson
is Constantly Consider'd . . the proposal – which
accompanys this Leter – from what little
Judgment I have – I think promises fair –
you will However – Give it a fair Examination
& of Course determine from the Conviction
of Right Reason – If as a Friend I might
Presume to offer my weak Opinion – I freely
Say; I think in Every Light – it seems Eligible
the Circle of yr Acquaintance is at present
Rather Circumscribed – I mean in the Artist Line.
Now in case you connect yr self in a Business
which Requires Constant daily Perambulation –
the chances – are on yr side – for forming –
Acquaintance – perhaps Friendships – with men of
Genius & abilitys – which may happily Change
the Colour of yr fortunes – the old proverb –
is on yr side – “two heads &c.” – & Very fortunately
in yr Case – where in fact – one has Wit, &
the other Judgment – the Chair of Interest
will have its Compleat furniture – in the two
top Ornaments – & honesty for its Basis.

So much for Monsr Higmore –
& now I have to Reckon with you – How
Could you be so preposterously wrong to
trouble the Repose of your worthy father
& mother – about me – surely you must
think me Exceedingly interested – or yr heart
must be a very proud one – if Either – in the
first instance you did me a wrong – in the
Last perhaps I may wrong you – be it
as it may – I know it gave me Real
Vexation – your father sent such a Baskit
as ten times Repaid the trifling Service –
I had honor as well as pleasure in Rendering
a man of Merit & my Friend – Believe me
I never accepted any present with so ill a
will – with Regard to them, Every thankful
Acknowledgement was due. I wrote a Very
Embarrassed leter of thanks – with a Resolution
to give you a Chastisement for Laying me
under the necessity – I am still Cross Enough
to wish to keep you in Ignorance of the Contents
but as that would be an Injustice to the Generous
Spirit of yr Parents – I am Obligd in honor to tell.
two fine chines – two Hocks – Black puddings & Sausages
& four of the best pork pyes Ever tasted – these
were sent off – Novbr 25th – but by some Cruel neglect
never reach'd me till Decbr 5th by which means
the Chines were spoilt – oh how I Rav'd against
the Carriers – & you – but you are most to blame

I hear – with pleasure that you have enough
to do – Highmore declares he is sorry for it –
as he wants & wishes you in town. pray give
my best wishes to Messrs Brown & Simons
& my love to Osborn – if you should
happen to know a Miss Adams

a Rich farmers daughter Remember
me to her – were you not widow witch'd
She – or some other heavy purs'd Lass
might be Easily attainable to a man
of yr – aye! aye! – but that ++++ says ++++++
will not be xxx I fear – for I Verily believe
that +++++++++ —for the +++++
& by the e token do you not ++++++
but this is matter of mere Speculation –
God Bless you – Yrs Sincerely – Cordially –
& sometimes – Offensively – but always
Friendily – Ign Sancho –

Poor Kitty Continues Very ill – pray God to
Release her soon – or she will Kill her poor
Mother – Night & day – poor soul –
it is almost too much – but Gods will
be done.

Mrs. Sancho, Girls & Billy
join their Comps apeice

Mr Sevenson

Charles Street – Janry 4th 1779

Dr & Revd Sir
I had the honor of Receiving yours – of the
28th Dec last Wednesday Evening – upon Inquiry
found the Waggon Which passes thro Retford
set out on thursday 12 oClock Noon – so Could not
in any wise be Ready for it – I have with utmost
Care & attention strove that the Quality of the
Goods (you so kindly commission'd me to send)
should be the Very best in kind – the Scotch Snuff
I got at Mr Arnolds – the Rappee is hardhams
best – the teas, I hope will meet with Approbation
– the Sugr I have doubts of – it doth not please
me – in truth it is a shocking Article at
present – & will I fear be so for some time
to Come – there is a Vilainy in that business –
tamely Suffer'd – too Gross for Patience – I am
loseing in the Course of the last 12 months –
above as many Pounds by it – & can not
please any of my Customers – the Lumps
I have sent you are at prime Cost –

& Indifferent as they are Sell usually now at
9d pr pound – the Coffee – is pick'd – & is the
Very same – as his Majesty (– God Bless him)
Constantly uses – the best Turkey Berrys –
you will Pardon this tedious detail – in
truth your Unbounded Goodness – in Some
Sort made it necesary for me to say I
have Endeavourd & wish to please – however
I may fail in that Respect – I shall Ever
Remember with Grateful Respect the Notice
you have so Friendily taken of Revd Sir

Yr Most Obligd humble Servt
Ign Sancho

the Goods were this day put into the Waggon
Which will stop at Retford on Friday next
between Eleven & on – fore noon –
Malaga Raisins – are Exceeding scarce – poor
& dear – Sun Raisins – are small – & from 56s/to
58s/ pr hundred

Charles [Street]
Janry 14th: 1779
Revrd Sir
your Bill was duly Accepted this day – Accept my
thanks – for your – (I must say) uncommon Kindn
-ess – I mean not to boast – when I declare – I have
Ever had a Real Veneration – for the Servants of the
Church – were they all actuated by yr Grand principle
they would better answer my Idea – of Christian
profession – & their Example perhaps – would out
weigh there Preaching – both United – would be of
much Utility – our hearts would be better'd – & our
Heads not the worse – I am with Grateful
Acknowledgments & warm
thanks – Yr Most Obligd Servt
Ignatius Sancho –

Rec'd Janry 14th 1779 of the Revd Mr Seth – E –
Stevenson the sum of Nine Pound ten shillgs &
four Pence – by a Bill – of Nine Pound twelve shillg
& six pence – I say Recd by me – in
Full of all Demand – Ign Sancho –
£9 – 12 – 6

[added in a different hand]
(addressed to the Rev. Seth Ellis Stevenson, my great
Grandfather. H. Stevenson. 1878)

[written to left hand side of page]

Mr Sancho’s
To my dear Father

[in pencil]


[written to the right hand side of page]


365 – 100 – 120
365 | 12000 | 32

March 11th 1779

Dear Friend I Recd yours – about three hours
since – I Give you due credit for yr Sympathizing
feelings – on our Recent Very distressful Situation.
for thirty Nights (save two) Mrs Sancho had no
Cloaths off – but you know the woman, Nature
Never form'd a tenderer heart – take her for all
in all – the Mother! – wife! Friend! – she does Credit
to her sex – she has the Rare felicity – of possessing
true Virtue without Arrogance – Softness without
Weakness – & dignity without Pride – she is
Osborns – full sister – without his foibles – & to
my inexpressable happiness – she is my wife
& truly best part – without a Single tinge of
my defects – poor Kitty – happy Kitty I should
say – drew her Rich prize Early – wish her Joy!
& Joy to Mortimer! – he Left life's table before
he was Cloy'd or Surfieted with dull Sickly Repetitions.
in prime of years – in the Meridian of
Character as an Artist – & Universally Esteem'd
as a man – he wing'd his Rapid flight to those
Celestial Mansions – where pope! Hogarth!
Handel! Chatham! – & Garrick – are Enjoying
the full Sweets of Beatific Vision – with the Great
Artists! Worthys – & Poets –of time without
date – your father – has bin Exceeding
Kind – this very day – a Mr White of Retford
Call’d on me – a Goodly looking Gentleman.

he inquir'd after you with the anxious
Curiosity of a Friend – & gave me an order for
2ld of tea – paid for it – I should have asked him
to have walked in – but the time did not
he told me yr father was well – & by his sute 
account – thinks, by much too well of me
Friend Highmore shall produce the things
you wot of – & Borther Osborn bring them
in his hand – Highmore is a Very Silly
fellow – he likes Silly Folkes – & I believe does not
hate Sancho – tomorrow Night I shall have
a few Friends to meet Bror Osborn. we intend
to be merry – were you here you might add
to a Number Which I think too many for
our little Room – So I hear the W –
No. hang me if I say a word about it –
Well – & how do you like the Company of
Monsr Le’ Gout – shall I – in Compliance
with Vulgar Custom wish you Joy –
pox on it – my hand aches so I can scrawl 
no Longer – Mrs Sancho is but so’ so –
the Children are well – do – write Large
& inteligible when you write to me
I hate fine hands – & fine Language
write plain honest nonsence like thy
True Friend I Sancho –

April day – 1779
No! – That was your Mistake
– tho a kind one – I have no
Irish Snuff – wish I had – but by 
the folly of our Laying Every Lett 
in the way of Irish Commerce
the Duty is so Extravagantly
high – as to preclude Every Idea
of National profit – Read the
Crisis – & Blush for the blunders
Barbarity, – & madness of thy –
Country men – Read – the transactions
of both houses – & then Reply! – I
am Sir an Affrican – with two ffs –
if you please – & proud am I

to be of a Country – that knows 
no Politicians' – nor Lawyers' –
nor [word deleted] – nor x1x2x3x4x5 nor thieves
of any Denomination save Natural
for by the pomposity of Minesterial
Omnipotence I do Aver! that you
aye & Highmore – one of the Dowces
form a Quintetto – Mark – I do not
mean Trio – [word deleted] for most
Exquisite – as I know thy feelings
are. I would not wound them by a
Designed Blunder – No! not for a tenth
Aldromedach – but the Macadan
is fine – & I thank thee – for thy Zeal
to serve me – tell Osborn to Love
me – as I do him – Give Highmore

a Drubbing for debauching – thy
Room – & wronging the Chastity
of thy Pembroke table – abuse
him – for his Naughty Poetry –
& to Conclude Maledict him
& Every Soul thou meetest with
– in the salt fish manner
but beware of Connivances –
& Remember there is nothing
Less wholesome than the Spawn
of Barble – From which – & the
7 plagues of the hebrew Talmud
may heaven of his mercy Keep us
all – Now to &c &c –
Yrs invariably in explicable
Ign Sancho
[D]amn’d High.

I sent you a small ˄parcel by friend Crowders this Night,
wherein are two Ivory cases with a dozen Saucers in each – I have
not sent you the book you wanted, because it would cost me an hour's
search being put away in a trunk – with much rubbish that
also belongs to you, and as our friend Cotton talks of your being
in Town about Xtmas I thought it might be as well to let it
remain 'till you come, but if you must have it before then I'll
look for it and send it – I find you have been at Cambridge
to see your Brother which gives me pleasure – I shall be very
glad to hear from you and still more to see you soon, as I
have a great deal to chat of with you and several good fellows
to introduce you to – Adieu JH

No14 –
You have miss'd the Truth – by a mile
– aye – & more – it was not Neglect –
I am too Proud for that – it was not
forgetfulness – Sir – I am not so –
ungrateful – it was not Idleness –
the Excuse of fools – Nor Muty of
Business – the Refuge of Knaves –
it is time to say what it was –
Why Mrs Dawson was in town from –
tuesday – till Monday following – & then –
& not till then – Gave me yr Leter – &
most Graciously did I receive it – Considering
that both my feet were in flannels – & are
so to this luckless minute – Well Sir &
what have you to say –

Friend Highmore has pay'd for them
I pay him again – & shall draw
upon you – toward Christmas –
Never Poorer since Created – but tis a
General Case – Receiv'd from your
Good Revd Parent -(-why not Honrd Father-)-
a Leter Announcing the Approach of a
Hamper of Prog – Which I wish you was
near Enough to Partake – your good father
feels a Satisfaction – in doing – I think a
wrong thing – his Motive is Right – & like a
true Servant of Christ – he follows the
Spirit – not the Leter – he will be Justify'd
in a better World – I am satisfy'd in this –
& thou with – in thy feelings be Gratified –
Huzza – we are all Right – but your
father pays the piper – how doth Squire
Green – odso –& his Pretty daughter –
Kiss the father for me – & drink a
Bottle with the fair Lady – I mean as
I have wrote – so tell them – & do whats
best in they own – & their Eyes – When
you see Brother Osborn my Love to him
& his house hold – I have no Spirits – when
the Gout seises me. Pox on him – Great News
From Sir Charles Hardy – Huzzas for

Ever – all mad – Nothing but Illuminations
out – with yr lights & a Bell Ringing Bon
fires Blazing – Crackers Bounding
and all for what! – What! –
the Girls Open Mothd – Billy stares
Mrs Sancho Rubs her hands, the
Night indeed is Cold – but Billy
must go to bed – the Noisy Rogues
with the Gazette Extra – stun our
Ears. Adieu! Yrs, &c. &c. I Sancho

Nov: 16 1779.
I should have Enclos’d – a Paper – but twill
Cost the devil & all – I mean the Receipts
Monsr Adenergs & J. Dunstans –
My family all Join in Customary

Mr Stevenson Esqr
At Mr Green’s
Bookseller &c
Bury St Edmunds

1780 Jan
4th Day
My Dear Friend
You have here – a Kind of medley
a Heterogeneous – ill spelt –
Heteroclite – (worse) Excentric –
sort of a – a – in short it is a
true Negroe Calibash – of ilsorted
undigested – chaotic Matter
What an Excellent Proem – What
a delightful Sample of the Grand
absurd – Sir – Dear Sir – as I
have a Soul to be saved (and why I
should not – would puzzle a Dr Price,)
as I have a Soul to be saved –
I only meant to say about fifteen words
to you – & the substance Just this –
to wish you a happy new year

with the usual Appendages –
& a long Et cetera-of Cardinal –
& heavenly Blessings – apropos
Blessings – Never more scanty
all Begars by Jove – not a shilling
to be got in London – if you are
Better off in the Country & Can
[aff]ord to Remit me yr Little Bill –
I Enclose it – for that Good
End – Highmore is – but he can
better tell you himself what he is
for in truth – I do think he is
in Love – Which puts the pretty
Green into my Head – & she brings
her father in View – my Love &
Respects to Each – Mrs Sancho Joins
me & the Girls, her – & God Keep you
Yrs Sincerely I Sancho

Mr Stevenson

Augth 18 N° 19 Ch Street
Dear friend
Were you in town yesterday or was it yr Ghost.
Mr Fisher Call'd upon me at Nine last Night to ask
if I had seen you – for he had heard youd been
been at the Salopian Coffee house inquiring after him.
So I Rested certain – that some fresh tit bit had
detaind you in the Perlieus of the Garden –
& that you would Emerge as this morning –
& be visible to your friends – I Expected an
Answer to my Elaborate Epistle – have you
you wrote Congratulatory to Friend Highmore –
have you Finished your Game – write!
write me a deal of Conclusive Wholsom Narrative
& Oblige yr true Friend I Sancho
My Love to Brother Osborn & his dame
& the Good Ladys of Barton – & Mesrs
Brown & Simons –

May 26

Most worth & respected Sir
Mr Meheux had informed me sometime
Ago of your Benevolent intentions towards me
I did not them know but I should have
the honour to see you in Town soon
To thank you and assure you it will be a
Very great act of charity if my Rent
Is paid it is Twelve pounds a year
That settled would make me easy
her grace gives me fourty
Mr and Mrs Meleux very good to me
Without such great and noble friends
I must have known want as when
My poor mother died I lost everything
With respectful wishes for the
Prosperity of your Family Sir
I remains your most grateful servant
Elizabeth Sancho

William Stevenson Esq
Surry Street

June 1812
Worthy Sir,
Your kind offer To me will be
very acceptable and I Return you
my most gratefull thanks
for the Same Mr y Mrs Meheux
gone out of town for
a short Time so Could not have
the pleasure to show them
your Kind intentions in my favour
May God Restore to you health
and Long Continue you to your
family who I hope will your
good Lady enjoy health and every
comfort this World can afford
them God bless you

I am Sin your obliged
and grateful servant
Elizabeth Sancho


E. Sancho
To my grandfather
in 1818:
Sancho’s daughter
H. Stevenson.

Many thanks
To my worthy Sir for the half
years annuity which a gentleman
Did me the honour to being himself
Last Saturday. I called on Mr and
Mrs Meheux and informed them
of your goodness they are both well
and preparing to travel. I hope
my good Sir and family are well
and Remain with respect
most gratefuly yours
Elizabeth Sancho

Mr Stevenson Esq

Tothill Street Westminster 9th May 1819
Worthy Sir
I am requested by my cousin Elizabeth
Sancho to return her most gratefull thanks for
your kind annual present of Five Guineas, which,
Mr Arnyst did her the favour to advance before
The time: when she likewise had the honour of seeing
His Ladys dine family. My cousin Sir thinking it
will be more comfortable to her, is about to leave
Tothill Street Westminster to reside with my Brother
William Priddie Lyon at a small house the direction
of which is Little Hatcham Kent Road near the
five Bells; hoping this kind Sir will reach you and
your family in good health she remains
worthy Sir
with all due respect
your highly obliged
Elizabeth Sancho

Feb 29 1820

Little Hatcham
Near the five
Bells Old
Kent Road

Worthy Sir it is with great
pleasure I present my Dear
fathers portrait to so great a
friend of his Daughter if Sir you
will be so good to Let me Know
where To Send it Shall go
Directly I hear from you and
if my best Sir will be so good
to Advance me half a year of the
income he so Kindly allows me being
about to move it will greatly add
to my Comfort I hope your Dear
Lady is well and that you Enjoy
your health

I remain Sir with
all due respect most
gratefully yours
Elizabeth Sancho

My Dear Sir

I have been since the beginning of the
month with Lord Chichester at Lewes
therefor could not read over your note
XXXX Mr XXXX now having only returned
this morning.
The XXXX is [deducted?] from your
Account. I am afraid you will not
compleat your XXXX. There should
be five XXXX in all. Perhaps your
copy is bound up in there which is
not unusual. – I will enquire if Mr Peyne
has any Parts of it – if he has not it is
a lost Case – Hold my copy for &32. –. –
at Sales it will fetch £40. –. – The first
Volume is of no Use.
I have met with no Piranesi, nor have I
been able to deal with the PXXXX Lady. –
Your account shall accompany this
& I feel thankful for your kind XXXX.
I send forthwirth your Vol. of Tracts
but the Book of [Coins?] 6 sins I never remember
to have seen – It shall be searched for
& sent when found. –

My Kindest respects to Mrs XXXX
& all the family –
I remain Dr Sir
Your most obediently
W Sancho

October 11th 1800. –

[vertically to left hand side of the page]

Mr Sancho
Oct 13 1800 –

Dear Sir
I have been in a Thousand Perplexities during the last
Month – I fear my Difficulties will know no End –
All things are coming upon me at once; & a
Turn of good Order, without any turn of money
is as fatal as lack of Employment altogether.
I have given you Credit for Bees’ XXXX
I hope to have an Interview with the Proprietor
of Holborn [or Holbein?] this Week –
Mr Singleton has my warmest wishes & there is
nothing within my Power that I will not do
for him.
I thank you most sincerely for thinking of me
in respect to the purchase of Libraries; I will
endeavour to deserve your kindness –
And now my Dr Sir with Assurances of a complete
Reform in my Correspondence I remain with
Kindest Respects to your family
Yours most sincerely
W Sancho.

Mr Stevenson

A Proof Print of
The Engraved Portrait of
Ignatius Sancho
A man equally invaluable
for the great indorsements
of his mind
As eminent for his
many – Virtues

Among the innumerable Comforts &
Blessings of my Life, I esteem the
Confidence & Friendship of this great
& Good man – and I hope this will
be carefully preserved by those who
come after me W Stevenson

7 auto. Letters
Elizabeth Sancho (daughter)

Coxwould near York
July 27. 1766

There is a strange coincidence, Sancho,
in the little events (as well as in the great ones)
of this world: for I had been writing a tender tale
of the sorrows of a friendless poor negro-girl, and
my eyes had scares done smarting with it, when your
Letter of recommendation in behalf of so many
of her brethren and sisters, came to me –
– but why her brethren? Or your’s, Sancho!
any more than mine? It is by the finest tints,
and most insensible gradations, that nature descends
from the fairese face about St. James’s, to the
sootiest complexion in africa: at which tint of these,
is it, that the ties of blood are to cease? and
how many shade must we descend lower still in
the scale, ‘ere Mercy is to vanish with them? –
but ‘tis no uncommon thing, my good Sancho, for
one half of the world to use the other half of it like
brutes, & then endeavour to make ‘em so. For
my own part, I never look Westward (when I am in
a pensive mood at least) but I think of the burdens
which our Brothers and Sisters are there carrying – &
could I ease their shoulders from an one ounce of ‘em, I
declare I would set out this hour upon a pilgrimage
to Mecca for their sakes – wch by the by, Sancho, exceeds

your walk of ten miles, in about the same
proportion, that a Visit of Humanity, should
one, of mere form however if you meant
the Corporal my Uncle Toby, more – he is yr Debter,
If I can wave the Tale I have write into
the Work I’m abt – this at the service of the afflicted
– and a much greater matter; for in serious
truth, it cases a melancholy sad Shade upon the
World, That so great a part of it, are and
have been so long bound in chains of
darkness & in Chains of Misery; & I cannot
but both respect & felicitate You, that by so
much laudable diligence you have broke
the one – & by falling into the hands
of so good and merciful a family, Providence
has rescused You from the other.
and so, good hearted Sancho! adieu!
& believe me, I have always I will not forget
yr Letter. Yrs
L Sterne

Full title:
Stevenson Papers: The letters of Ignatius Sancho
Manuscript / Letter / Book / Octavo / Engraving / Illustration / Image
Ignatius Sancho, Elizabeth Sancho, William Leach Sancho, Laurence Sterne
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 89077

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