Os grid reference: SD 4222 5594. I recently came across this interesting article by Cliff Astin in his series called ‘Digging Deeper into Graves’ which appeared in the August 1996 edition of the ‘Really Lancashire’ magazine – A Magazine for the Red Rose County. I thought that it would be good to share this on here for all to read. The well-tendered grave is located at the far western-side of Sunderland Point, close to the coast. To reach the site from Overton walk 1 mile south-west along a track crossing the northern and western edges of the Lune estuary (please check the tides) as there are deep river channels. On reaching Sunderland Point (SD 4266 5598) walk the length of the ‘Lane’. At the far western-side of the lane walk 100m south on a footpath. Here in the corner of a field lies Sambo’s Grave. Children have left flowers, painted pebbles and tiny little wooden crosses at the grave-side.
[I would like to apologize about the name “Sambo” but it is the one that is “always” given for this site and, also for any other “offensive” words that appear here, they are not the “words” that I would have given, but they are the ones that “still” seem to crop-up in this world of ours. To me that is very sad.]
“Sunderland Point was, for purposes of shipping, the predecessor of Glasson Dock, which in turn was superceded as the most important port in our area by Lancaster. Should you choose to visit Sunderland Point, take care to check the tide-tables before setting out in order to leave time to wander along the shoreline and to accommodate your return. On reaching the shore, walk to your left until you see a marker indicating ‘Sambo’s Grave’ – a fascinating burial spot but also a somewhat disgusting and misplaced instance of contemporary superiority and man’s inhumanity to man on the part of the local inhabitants of the day. Happily this has been tempered by later and greater understanding and kindness albeit mainly on the part of our young ones.”
“About 1730 a negro boy who had been acting as a sea captain’s servant arrived at Sunderland Point in one of the ships from the West Indies. Because it took some time to unload and re-freight the vessel, this negro – they called him Sambo, I suppose nobody bothered to ask him his real name – was accommodated at one of the inns. There are no inns at Sunderland Point now but formerly there were two. His master, the sea captain, meanwhile went off to Lancaster to attend to some business affairs, whereupon the negro slave took it into his head that in this alien foreign speaking land he had been abandoned. He became so worried and depressed that he refused to take any food and in a very short time he died. Here’s where the inhumanity comes in.”
“The “good Christians” of the parish could not tolerate the idea of a black heathen being buried in consecrated ground and so at a spot on the lonely western side close to the shore (it is now one corner of a field) sailors buried Sambo coffinless covered only with his own clothes.”
“In 1796 (sixty years later) the reverend James Watson, the recently retired headmaster of Lancaster grammar school, was shown the burial spot. By now, Sunderland Point had become popular with visitors so James Watson collected a shilling from every willing visitor and placed on the site a monumental stone containing, in the centre on a copper plate, the following inscription:-” Here lies Poor Sambo, A Faithful Negro who (attending his master from the West Indies), Died on his arrival at Sunderland.
“Whenever you visit this site today you will find pathetic but loving little offerings from local children in the form of daisies, buttercups or other wild flowers in jam jars and crosses made from twigs or lolly sticks, for the local schoolchildren and other visitors have taken Sambo into their hearts. Happily in Sunderland Point today Sambo is the most remembered resident.” Full sixty Years the angry Winter’s Wave
Has thundering daſhd this bleak & barren Shore
Since Sambo‘s Head laid in this lonely Grave
Lies still & ne’er will hear their turmoil more.
Full many a Sandbird chirps upon the Sod
And many a Moonlight Elfin round him trips
Full many a Summer’s Sunbeam warms the Clod
And many a teeming Cloud upon him drips.
But still he sleeps _ till the awakening Sounds
Of the Archangel’s Trump new Life impart
Then the Great Judge his Approbation founds
Not on Man’s Color but his_Worth of Heart
James Watſon Scr. H.Bell del. 1796
Astin, Cliff., Sambo’s Grave (article), Really Lancashire – A Magazine for the Red Rose County, Issue No. 2, August 1996, Landy Publishing, Staining, Blackpool, Lancs.