Johnny Stedman arrived in Tiverton in 1782. He was a mixed race young man whose mother was from Suriname, and whose father was from the Netherlands.

This drawing of Johnny’s mother ‘Joanna’ was done by John Gabriel Stedman and used to illustrate his diaries. (Image courtesy of Devon Development Education & Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life).

During his early years, Johnny lived with his mother. She was born in Surinam (now the Republic of Suriname) and is known as ‘Joanna’ in Johnny’s father’s diaries. 

His father was a Dutch soldier (named John Gabriel Stedman, author of The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam) who settled in Tiverton for his retirement. 

Johnny spent his early life in Suriname but in 1782 was brought to Tiverton as a young man to live with his father and new stepmother. Something is known of Johnny’s life with his new family as his father kept a diary. 

Find out more about Johnny’s story here.