John Gordon, Antigua (British West indies), 1820s

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Image Reference

Trelawney Wentworth, The West India Sketch Book (London, 1834), Vol. 2, facing p. 163. (Copy in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University)

Done from a real life sketch, this portrait of John Gordon, a "free person of colour" who claimed to be "the only barber in town for gentlemen" (i.e., whites). The author, who identifies himself in Vol. 2 (p. 385), lived in the West Indies during the 1820s. He describes Gordon at length in vol. 2, pp. 161-168, commenting that Gordon had a knack for determining international news based on the movements of ships and officials. His knowledge and cleverness made him a valuable resource to all the residents of the island, from the poorest laborers and slaves to top government officials. Gordon had died by time Wentworth's book was published.