Who were the first Africans?

The enslaved Africans aboard the San Juan Bautista were captured by Portuguese and Imbangala forces from the kingdom of Ndongo, in West Central Africa.  The Ndongo captives were Kimbundu-speaking people from Kabasa, the capital city, and other urban areas targeted by the Portuguese invasion.

Only a few of the first Africans are named in early Virginia records.  In Elizabeth City (today’s Hampton), Anthony and Isabella labored on land owned by Captain William Tucker.  By 1625, they had a son, also named William, who was African child named in Virginia records.  Anthony and Isabella probably arrived on the White Lion or Treasurer in 1619, but records do not say for sure.  At Jamestown, Angelo (or Angela) labored for William Peirce.  She arrived on the Treasurer.  Another important early African was Anthony Johnson, who arrived from England on the James in 1621.  Johnson’s experience was unusual; he was able to earn or purchase his freedom and eventually acquired land on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Show All Answers

1. Who were the first Africans?
2. Were the first Africans indentured servants or enslaved?
3. Did the Africans arrive at Point Comfort or Jamestown?
4. Were they the first Africans in America?
5. Why does the 1619 African arrival matter now?