Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (c. 1710-1775)


Person Record Title
Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (c. 1710-1775)
Given Name
Family Name
Alternate Name
James Albert
Birth Date
Date Certainty
Death Date
Biographical Description
Ukawsaw Gronniosaw was born in Bornu (present-day northeastern Nigeria) around 1710 (his exact year of birth is unknown). As a young man he was captured in Africa and sold to a Dutch slave trader. After surviving the treacherous voyage from Africa to the Caribbean and then to New York, Gronniosaw was purchased by the Rev. Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen and brought to Raritan to live and work. Gronniosaw missed his family in Africa and suffered greatly because of this. He repeatedly asked Rev. Frelinghuysen to allow him to return to his family, but he never got a chance to go back home. He was taught about the Christian faith by the minister. Although Gronniosaw found the tenets of his enslaver's faith strange at first, he eventually converted to Christianity.

Upon the Rev. Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen’s death, Ukawsaw Gronniosaw was granted his freedom, albeit with the understanding that he would stay on and remain as a servant to the household. Eventually, Gronniosaw left New Jersey and the Frelinghuysen family and became a sailor. He sailed throughout the Caribbean and Europe and then settled in England, taking the English name James Albert. It was here in England that he published his autobiography in 1772. The book was titled: A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince, as Related by Himself. This is one of the earliest autobiographies ever published by a formerly enslaved person. The book provides a rare glimpse of what life was like for enslaved people on the Raritan in the middle of the 18th century. Gronniosaw died in Chester, England, in 1775.
Record Contributor
Jesse Bayker

Linked resources

Items with "Author: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (c. 1710-1775)"
Title Class
A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, As Related by Himself Bibliographic Resource
Items with "Primary Participant: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (c. 1710-1775)"
Title Class
1730 Sale: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw Event
1747 Manumission: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw Event
1772 Autobiography: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw Event
1775-09-28 Death: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw Event
Items with "Enslaver of: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw (c. 1710-1775)"
Title Class
Mr. Vanhorn Agent
Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691-1747) Agent