In life Olaudah Equiano (c. 1745 – 31 March 1797) was known as Gustavus Vassa. Equiano has an unexplained link with the village of Soham in Cambridgeshire, England where he married an English lady, Susannah Cullen in 1792. It was from Soham in 1782 that the Baptist, Andrew Fuller originated before becoming the pastor of Kettering Baptist Church.
Olaudah Equiano together with William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson are celebrated by the Church of England on 30th July each year for their efforts in social reform and anti-slavery campaigning.
Until the recently the final resting place of Equiano has been unknown. What we do know is that he lived in London, at 13 Tottenham Street, London, in 1788; in 1789 he moved to what was then 10 Union Street and is now 73 Riding House Street. One of his last addresses appears to have been Plaisterers’ Hall in the City of London, where he drew up his will on 28 May 1796. He moved to John Street, Tottenham Court Road, close to Whitefield’s Methodist chapel. (It was rebuilt in in 1957 following war-time damage by a V2 rocket, for use by Congregationalists, now the site of the American International Church.) Lastly, he lived in Paddington Street, Middlesex, where he died.
Recent research has revealed that following Equiano’s death on 31 March 1797 he was buried at Whitefield’s Methodist chapel on 6 April 1797.
The entry reads “6 [April 1797] Gustus Vasa, 52 years, St Mary Le bone”
We might conclude that Equiano found the Calvinistic message of Whitefield’s chapel to his liking. At the time the chapel was pastored by Rev. Torial Joss, George Whitefield having died in 1770. Joss himself died a few days after Equiano and was buried on 22 April 1797 in the chapel.
Olaudah Equiano burial
 London Metropolitan Archives; Clerkenwell, London, England; Whitefield’s Memorial Church [Formerly Tottenham Court Road Chapel], Tottenham Court Road, Saint Pancras, Register of burials; Reference Code: LMA/4472/A/01/004
© 2017, Graham Ward. All rights reserved.