If you haven’t read them already, Sufficient Encouragement and Renewed Hope feature a colored man in Regency England. He is Colonel Fitzwilliam’s servant, the descendant of a slave…and in love with Caroline Bingley–or who she had been ten years ago.
The lack of cultural diversity represented in Regency Romances and Jane Austen Fan Fiction came up in discussion between me and friends in several different conversations for a few months before I began working on Sufficient Encouragement in earnest. Eventually, what I thought was going to be a small role grew larger. At the close of Sufficient Encouragement, I decided I wasn’t done telling his story and Jacob Truman is one of the reasons why the When Love Blooms series exists. Renewed Hope follows the story of Sufficient Encouragement more through his (and several others) eyes and future stories will continue to move the story forward.
All this to say, Bill Richmond was a bit of historical inspiration for my character.
Bill Richmond was born the son of a slave in Staten Island, New York in 1763. When he was 14, he was taken back to England by Lord Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland (third creation). The year before, he had been one of the hangmen at the execution of American Patriot Nathan Hale. Sometime after arriving in England, Richmond was sent to school in Yorkshire and apprenticed to a cabinet maker.
A self-taught pugilist from his American days, his prowess in the ring only grew and boxing soon became his career. By 1805 he was known as “The Black Terror” and went up against rising star, Tom Cribb. Although 18 years older and 20 pounds lighter, he put up an impressive fight. Cribb won the match after 90 minutes. Two years later when Cribb defeated Jem Belcher in only 35 minutes and became the world champion.
Richmond was also the trainer of Tom Molineaux, another freed slave turned boxer. Although he fought infrequently until age 55, Richmond bought the Horse and Dolphin pub in Leicester Square in London. There, he also ran a boxing academy. He died in London in 1829 at age 66.