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Hall's Halfpenny D&H317 "WHITE NEGRESS"

The front side depicts an African woman in a long dress. Circular inscription: "Mrs. NEWSHAM THE WHITE NEGRESS.

Middlesex Hall's Halfpenny D&H317

Circular legend on reverse side: "TO BE HAD AT THE CURIOSITY HOUSE CITY ROAD" and in the center: "NEAR FINSBURY SQUARE, LONDON 1795".

Amelia was born in Jamaica around 1748, inheriting from her parents a recessive gene that causes albinism. Her mother was the slave of Sir Simon Clarke, 6th Baronet, who lived in Spanish Town.
In 1753, Clark sent Amelia to England as a gift to his son Kingsmill Clark, who sold her to John Bennett or Burnet, who kept a bird and beast shop on St. Martin's Lane.
On April 1, 1754, an advertisement was published in the London Daily Advertiser, describing Amelia as "a negro born all white", "lighter than most Europeans", "astonishingly gifted", and "the greatest natural phenomenon ever known". The final price for which Amelia was sold was very likely well below the 400 guineas advertised.

Amelia had the honor of being shown to the royal family and the royal society, and also traveled all over the country to show herself to everyone willing to pay one shilling for it.

The white negro girl: a phaenomenon, 1762[?], Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University Library.The white negro girl: a phaenomenon, 1762[?], Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University Library.

April 17, 1766 Amelia was baptized in the church of St. Lawrence in Exeter, under the name Amelia Harlequin (Amelia Harlequin). Like many blacks, she believed that baptism made her free and left John Bennett, continuing to flaunt herself at various fairs. Once free, she married Mr. Newsham, and they had six children. With her unusual appearance, she challenged people's notions of race, as if asking, if a black person can be white, can he be both at the same time?

Portrait of Mrs Newsham; James Record after a drawing by Burt. 1791. The British Museum.

In 1795, Amelia worked for Thomas Hall in his house of curiosities at 10 City Road, London. Thomas Hall was a taxidermist and owner of an exhibition of stuffed birds and animals. However, in addition to stuffed animals, he exhibited various freaks, dwarfs and other outlandish creatures, one of which was Amelia Newsham.


Engraver: Dixon, producer: Lutwyche.