Dr Allan Glaisyer Minns

(1858 – 1930)

Up until 2007 – 2008, it was generally thought, that John Archer, who became mayor of Battersea, South London, in 1913, was the first person of colour to hold this title. However, records from the National Archives show that this honour belongs to Dr Minns, who was elected mayor of Thetford in 1904 (nine years before the John Archer’s victory at Battersea).

Dr Minns achievement is also noted in the American Negro year Book of 1914, which records: “In 1904, Mr. Allan Glaisyer Minns, a col’d man from the West Indies, was elected mayor of the borough of Thetford, Norfolk”.

Born in Inagua, Bahamas, in 1858, Dr Minns attended Nassau Grammar School. He came to England to study medicine at London’s Guy Hospital. After graduation he became the medical officer at Thetford Workhouse and Thetford Cottage Hospital.

As well as being president of the Thetford Horticultural Society, in his spare time the doctor wrote papers and gave lectures on hygiene, literacy and horticultural subjects. 

A photograph from the Gressenhall collections, showing Thetford Union Workhouse inhabitants: eleven elderly inmates, three nurses and a doctor, believed to be Dr Allan Minns. Courtesy of Workhouse Network

As well as being president of the Thetford Horticultural Society, in his spare time the doctor wrote papers and gave lectures on hygiene, literacy and horticultural subjects. 

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