Project to restore slave boy’s grave in Brighton

The grave of Thomas M.S. Highflyer
The grave of Thomas M.S. Highflyer

Brighton and Hove Black History group is to lead the restoration of the 145-year-old grave of a slave boy who lived in Brighton.

The group will be joined by council leader Warren Morgan today (January 19) for a ceremony at Brighton’s Woodvale Cemetery, to remove the head stone for restoration.

Brighton & Hove Black History group has launched the project in honour of slave boy Thomas M.S. Highflyer

Brighton & Hove Black History group has launched the project in honour of slave boy Thomas M.S. Highflyer

Thomas M.S. Highflyer was a slave boy who was rescued on 24 August 1866, along with two other boys, by Captain Thomas Malcolm Sabine Pasley of the Royal Navy’s East African Anti-Slave Trade Squadron.

Tom Highflyer was sent to Brighton to be educated and lived at 19 Great College Street, until his premature death on 20 June 1870, aged 12.

A key part of the project will see Tom Highflyer’s original head stone monument removed and then restored, to be returned to its place at Woodvale Cemetery.

Bert Williams, president of Brighton and Hove Black History, said: “The Thomas Highflyer project is a very important project for our Black History group to help share the important contribution that black people have made in Sussex.

“The story of his life and the unexpected discovery of his headstone is yet another piece of Brighton and Hove’s hidden black heritage uncovered thanks to our team of volunteers.

“By restoring Tom’s grave, we hope to preserve his story and legacy for generations to come.”

The Thomas Highflyer project is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and organised by Brighton and Hove Black History in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council and Woodvale Cemetery.

To find out more, visit: www.black-history.org.uk/projects/tom-highflyer/