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The majority of the following article contains the fictional portrayal of one or more historical figures. Details in this article may differ from real world facts. For more information on the historical figure(s), consult the links provided within or at the bottom of the article.

Ignatius Sancho featured on the cover

All of the characters that appear in Judy Hepburn's Ignatius Sancho.

Main characters[]

Ignatius Sancho[]

Main article: Ignatius Sancho (character)

Charles Ignatius Sancho (c. 1729[1] – 14 December 1780)[2] was a formerly enslaved person. As a baby, he had been given to three sisters whom treated him increasingly more cruelly as he aged. Ignatius met Duke and Duchess of Montagu in 1737 and learned how to read and write from them. After the Duke's death in 1749, he worked as a butler for the Duchess until her death. A few years later, he married Anne Osborne. They had seven children, including Frances, Ann, Elizabeth, and Billy. In 1767, he began work as a valet to the new Duke of Montagu, George. Due to his bad knees, Ignatius left his job and opened a shop. Throughout his life, he was involved in the abolitionism movement.

Supporting characters[]

Ann, Elizabeth, Frances, and Billy Sancho[]

Frances (born c. 1761),[3] Ann (born c. 1763),[4] Elizabeth "Betsy" (born c. 1769),[5] and William "Billy" Sancho (born c. 1775)[6] were the four children of Ignatius Sancho and Anne Osborne. Ignatius often called his daughters collectively his "little Sanchonettas." Elizabeth was nicknamed "Betsy" after Ignatius's first friend. Anne was named after her mother, but preferred spelling it without an e. The girls often helped their parents at their shop, which opened in 1774. Billy was the final child born to Ignatius and Anne. In 1780, Billy found himself outside when a riot. He was unable to return home, but was protected by a passer-by, named Pike. Several years later, Billy turned the family shop into a publishing house.

Anne Osborne[]

Anne Sancho (née Osborne) was the sister of John Osborne. She was from the West Indies. In 1751, her brother introduced her to Ignatius at a dance. He proposed to her the following autumn and she said yes. By 1767, they had three surviving children, Frances, Ann, and Elizabeth. As their family grew, the couple had a harder time making ends meet. Anne often had to borrow money from her brother. She eventually suggested for Ignatius to ask the new Duke and Duchess of Montagu about employment. After several years as a valet, Ignatius opened up a shop which Anne and their daughters helped him run. Not long after, Anne gave birth to their final child Billy.


Betsy (born c. 1725)[7] was a maid-of-all-work employed by the three sisters. She was about three years older than Ignatius and the two became fast friends when she started working for the sisters. Betsy and Ignatius received permission from the sisters to attend the "frost fair" on River Thames in 1740. The pair had a lovely time together, but they ended up staying out longer by accident. This angered the sisters whom fired for Betsy, saying she was "too friendly" with Igatius and was also a "bad influence." During the confrontation, Betsy stood up for Ignatius. Betsy went to work in Northamptonshire and never saw Ignatius again. He never forgot his first friend and later named one of his daughters after her.

George and Mary[]

Mary and George were the Duchess and Duke of Montagu following her mother's death in 1751. They subsequently moved into her parents' home, Montagu House. The couple brought along their own servants, which necessitating the dismissal of the old servants, including Ignatius. In 1767, Ignatius visited the couple to ask about employment. Mary suggested he become George's valet, a job he did for several years. In 1774, Ignatius spoke to George about his difficulties with his knees. Suggesting a change of profession, George helped Ignatius buy a shop on Charles Street. He also helped him by sending his servants and friends to buy goods from him. They had at least one daughter, Elizabeth.

Duke and Duchess of Montagu[]

The Duke (died July 1749)[8] and Duchess of Montagu (died 1751)[9] were a married couple living at Montagu House. The Duke often used his money to help others. He first met Ignatius in 1737 and invited him to come by his home whenever he had free time. There Ignatius learned how to read and write. The Duchess also instructed him in etiquette. In July 1749, the Duke died of a sudden fever when Ignatius was twenty-one. Sometime after the Duke's death, Ignatius asked for the Duchess to take him into her service. She was hesitant, but hired him at the encouragement of her butler, Brydges. In 1751, the Duchess collapsed and passed away. In her will, she left Ignatius an annual income and a lump sum of money.

Three Sisters[]

The Three Sisters were the "owners" of Ignatius whom referred to them as "Oldest Sister," "Middle Sister," and "Youngest Sister." The sisters were unmarried and lived together in their Greenwich home. Ignatius came to live with him when he was two years old, supposedly as a "gift." They treated him as a plaything when he was younger, but started treating him with increasing hostility as he grew older. The sisters refused his requests to learn how to read and write, even when the Duke of Montagu attempted to intervene. To them, Ignatius was only useful as a servant. When Ignatius was twenty-one, the sisters attempted to sell Ignatius to Mr Letts. However, he went to the Duchess before it could happen.

William Powell[]

William Powell[10] was an employee of the Montagu House. He was described as being, tall, tanned, and strong with blonde hair. His family consisted of his parents and his two sisters, Jenny and Robyn. In 1751, he came from Shropshire to work for the Duchess of Montagu in London. William was befriended by Ignatius, whom taught him how to read and write. Ignatius later helped him be promoted to footman. He was likely kept on by the new Duke and Duchess of Montagu after the former Duchess's death the same year. Several years later, William had become their butler. In 1767, he was reunited with Ignatius when he came to work as the Duke's valet.

Minor characters[]

  • Brydges was the Duke and Duchess of Montagu's butler. He had been serving the Duchess since she was a young girl. When Ignatius Sancho asked her for a position, Brydges suggested that he train him to be the Duchess' next butler since he was going to retire soon.
  • David Garrick, a successful actor whom was a favorite of Ignatius. One day, the two became friends and David encouraged Ignatius to become an actor. The venture failed, but the pair had a fun time laughing over it.
  • Elizabeth and Henry Scott, the daughter and son-in-law of Mary and George. The couple were in Bath, when the famous Thomas Gainsborough painted her portrait.
  • Francis Barber, a neighbor of Ignatius and the valet of Samuel Johnson. He had been enslaved in Jamaica. Francis attended anti-slave trade meetings with Ignatius and the two became good friends.
  • Francis Williams, a black man from Jamaica whom the Duke sent to grammar school in England. When he returned to Jamaica, the Governor refused to employ him. He later opened a school.
  • Lord George Gordon, a politician whom protested a law due to his prejudice against Catholics. He then stirred up a riot.
  • Granville Sharp, a campaigner who spoke against the slave trade. He became involved in the movement after helping Jonathan Strong.
  • Jacob, a young boy who was a neighbor and likely a friend of Billy Sancho.
  • Jenny and Robyn Powell were William's sisters.
  • John Osborne was Anne's brother. He met Ignatius at the anti-slave trade meetings and became friends. John later introduced him to his sister. After Ignatius and his sister married, he sometimes lent them money for groceries.
  • Jonathan Strong, a former enslaved person. Granville Sharp helped him obtain his freedom after his owner had beaten him badly for running away.
  • Laurence Sterne, a writer whom Ignatius corresponded with about the anti-slave trade movement. After Laurence's death, their letters were published.
  • Mr Letts, a man whom the sisters had sold Ignatius to. He was likely going to take Ignatius across the Atlantic if he had not left the sisters' home in time.
  • The Millers were a family who lived near the Sanchos. Billy was a friend of their child.
  • Ottobah Cugoano, a friend of Ignatius who was also involved in the anti-slave trade movement. He had been enslaved in the West Indies.
  • Pike, a kind man whom protected Billy during a riot. He came from Lincoln to find work in London, but had a hard time finding a steady job. After protecting Billy, Pike was reminded of his own child and decided to return home.
  • Dr Samuel Johnson, the employer of Francis Barber. He was a well-known man for his achievements, such as publishing an English dictionary. Samuel was against the slave trade and sometimes attended anti-slave trade meetings with Francis.
  • Thomas Gainsborough, a famous portrait painter. In Bath, he painted the portraits of Lady Elizabeth and Ignatius.


  1. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 2
  2. Though his date of death is not directly stated in the book, it is included here as it can be considered public knowledge.
  3. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 119
  4. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 125
  5. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, pages 109, 124
  6. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 121
  7. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 34
  8. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 53
  9. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, pages 68, 80
  10. Ignatius Sancho, Judy Hepburn, page 74

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