9 Nov 2008

 

The Real Black Boy by Respected Local Historian T Meirion Hughes

 Local Historain T Meirion Hughes ORIGIN OF THE NAME “BLACK BOY”

I was saddened to read in the local newspaper that there are still some people in Caernarfon who would have us believe that the “Black Boy Inn” in Northgate Street was given the name because a black skinned person served behind the bar at one time. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The late, Mr. Ivor Wynne Jones, journalist, author and historian of repute, who early in his career worked for that newspaper, has written in length about the origin of the name “Black Boy” and the earliest reference to it can be found in the Archives.  It’s a Deed of Sale of a house in “Street Y Black Boy” (sic) between Thomas Wynne, Glynllifon and a Henry Robyns. The date of the document is 1717.

Now this group who is attempting to associate the name of John Ymstumllyn, alias Jac Blac , who lies buried in the cemetery of St. Cynhaearn, with that of the Black Boy. Now let me explain to the uninitiated that history tells us that the landlord of an estate near Criccieth brought the 8 year old from Africa to this country in 1742 and had him baptised John Ystumllyn. Given that he was 8 years old in 1742 that would put his year of birth circa 1734, which is 17 years after the date on the Deed of Sale. In other words historical proof of the existence of the name “Black Boy” well before Jac Blac was born.

Mr. Ivor Wynne Jones, having seen some documents which came to light when extensions were made to the building in the mid 1950’s was able to ascertain that it was at the Inn that supporters of the Monarchy used to meet during the Cromwellian period.  They had to be careful that Cromwell’s spies did not suspect what they were up to and so used to drink a toast to the exiled prince who later became Charles II “To the Black Boy or To the Black Boy from over the water” meaning France.

The Prince’s mother Henrietta Maria was born in France and had some Spanish blood in her and shortly after the birth of her first born she noticed that he had a swarthy complexion. She therefore referred to him as “My beautiful Black Boy”.

There are many “Black Boy Inns and Hotels” in the UK and checking the Internet one will find that this is the story behind the name for most of them.

Now I will remind the people of Caernarfon that our town is a Heritage Site and this is due to its historical importance and there is no need to dream up fantasies likely to appeal to the tourists.

See Meirion's Did you Know website on www.Cofis-dre-ar-y-we.co.uk.

 

 

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