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John Archer, 1914
*John Archer was born on this date in 1863. He was a Black British lawyer and politician.
From Liverpool, England, his father, Richard, was a ship's steward from Barbados, and his mother, Mary Theresa, was Irish. Unfortunately, little is known about his childhood. He was in his late 20s when he and his wife, a black Canadian, bought a home at 55 Brynmaer Road at the south end of Battersea Park. Archer earned his living as a photographer with a studio in Battersea Park Road; his work won many awards.
He then turned his interest to local politics and was elected to the borough council in 1906. Archer was one of the six councilors for the Latchmere ward, where he topped the poll with 1,051 votes. In this position, he became one of the first persons of African descent to hold civic office in London, to represent his country at an international conference abroad, and become an election agent for a constituency Labor Party.
Archer lost his seat in 1909 but won it again three years later. In 1913, he was elected mayor of Battersea. The population at the time was 167,000, and the council's annual income from rates was over £400,000. Archer received letters of congratulations from leaders of the Black community in the United States and was featured in the American magazine The Crisis, with photographs of Archer and his wife in their mayoral robes.
His record of service to the local community was extraordinary. He defended his seat in 1919 and became a successful political agent and alderman. Archer returned to the council in 1931 and served as a governor of Battersea Polytechnic, President of the Nine Elms Swimming Club, Chair of the Whitley Council Staff Committee, and a member of the Wandsworth Board of Guardians.
At the time of his death, he was deputy leader of the Battersea council. He died on July 14, 1932, just a few weeks after his 69th birthday. His funeral was held at the Church of Our Lady of Carmel in Battersea Park Road, and he was buried in the Council’s cemetery at Morden. A secondary school was named in his honor during the 1980s. Archer House - part of the Battersea Village residential complex - was also named after John Archer upon the completion of its construction in the 1930s. In 2004, John Archer was chosen for the 100 Great Black Britons list, coming 72nd in a public vote. In 2011 John Archer was commemorated with a Blue Plaque from Nubian Jak. ReggaeTV Channel filmed the event.