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Bermudian sailor was killed in 1919 Liverpool riot

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A young Bermudian victim of an early British race riot has been highlighted in a blog on the Britain's black history.

The story of Charles Wooten was retold in the wake of controversy over the status of immigrants from the Caribbean.

Lowdru Robinson, a former director of the Bermuda Government's Department of Community & Cultural Affairs, included the little-known story of Mr Wooten in his online site the “Affable Curmudgeon”.

The ship's fireman was murdered in 1919 at Liverpool docks.

Mr Robinson used Mr Wooten to highlight “examples of Africans who had unique and outstanding lives in Britain prior to 1948”.

Mr Robinson said black people had lived in Britain long before the MV Empire Windrush brought hundreds of Caribbean immigrants from British colonies to a new life in the United Kingdom in 1948.

On board were 139 people who gave Bermuda as their last place of residence.

Eight Bermudians were documented by the late journalist Ira Philip as stowaways on the ship, which made the island its final stop before heading on to London.

The Windrush Generation made headlines this year after some were threatened with loss of benefits or deportation over their lack of official papers.

Mr Robinson, who lives in Bristol, wrote that many in Britain believed that the arrival of the Empire Windrush marked “the beginning of large numbers of black people living in this country”.

He added: “However, a careful study of the historical record proves this belief not to be true.”

Details on Wooten's case were sent to local historian Edward Harris in December 2016 from Seán Pòl Ó Creachmhaoil, a historian in Ireland who may be descended from him.

Mr Robinson said a waterfront plaque marks the place where the 24-year-old seaman was “murdered by a mob in one of Britain's first race riots”.

Dr Harris said there had “of course been other Bermudians over there a long time before”, but that the information from Ireland on Mr Wooten's murder had been “the first I heard of it”.

According to the book From World City to the World in One City by Tim Bunell, racial violence broke out in Liverpool and other ports in the economic downturn after the First World War.

Wooten, whose surname is variously spelt Wootton, Wotton, and Wootten, was drowned during a “fracas between black and Scandinavian sailors”.

A marker, included in Mr Robinson's blog, is a tribute to victims of the Liverpool race riots that claimed Mr Wooten's life on June 5, 1919.

Mr Robinson said he had continued to follow the “hot topic” of the Windrush Generation with “keen interest” since he posted the blog a year ago.

The blog, on kemet36@.wordpress.com, was designed to show that parts of Britain were multicultural long before the Windrush brought the first wave of Caribbean immigrants to the country 70 years ago.

Mr Robinson traced the significant presence of Africans in Britain back to the Third Century, when North African troops were among the Roman forces guarding Hadrian's Wall.

Recognition for a Bermudian: a tribute to Bermudian Charles Wotten, murdered in Liverpool in a race riot almost 100 years ago (Photograph supplied)
Recognition for a Bermudian: a tribute to Bermudian Charles Wotten, murdered in Liverpool in a race riot almost 100 years ago (Photograph supplied)

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Published July 31, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated July 31, 2018 at 9:00 am)

Bermudian sailor was killed in 1919 Liverpool riot

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