Black domestic servants in great houses were seen as a conspicuous sign of wealth in the 18th century. Some were paid wages and could leave their employers, while others were treated as property. Portraits and archives record many such lives.
The young black man included in this a portrait of Lady Mary Churchill, Duchess of Montagu painted, in the 1720s and attributed to Enoch Seeman, was called Charles.
He worked as a servant at Boughton House in Northamptonshire and is identified in the family cash books as 'ye Black of her Grace'. Records show he was educated, expensively dressed in livery and paid servant's wages.