However, some were in the upper echelons of society.
The 1991 UK census was the first to include a question on ethnicity.
As of the 2011 UK Census, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) allow people in England and Wales and Northern Ireland who self-identify as "Black" to select "Black African", "Black Caribbean" or "Any other Black/African/Caribbean background" tick boxes.
They are generally the descendants of black people who lived in England in the 18th century and freed Black American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolutionary War (see also Black Loyalists).
In 1787, hundreds of London's black poor (a category that included the East Indian seamen known as lascars) agreed to go to this West African country on the condition that they would retain the status of British subjects, live in freedom under the protection of the British Crown, and be defended by the Royal Navy.
Given the darker complexion of people with biracial parentage, George Best argued in 1578 that black skin was not related to the heat of the sun but was instead caused by biblical damnation.