Samuel Lewis (barrister)

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Sir Samuel Lewis KCMG (1843–1903) was a Sierra Leonean mayor of Freetown and lawyer. Lewis was the first West African ever knighted and was the third Sierra Leonean to qualify as a barrister. Lewis was the first mayor of Freetown after the Freetown Municipal Council was established. In 1896, he was made a knight, the first West African to achieve such an honour,[1] a year after he had been appointed mayor.


Lewis was one of nine children (eight sons and a daughter) of an Aku Recaptive merchant (in real estate and agricultural products) Elderman William Lewis of Oxford Street in the Freetown Municipal Council, and his wife Fanny. His siblings - Ebenezer Albert, Christopher Bright Lewis, William Jr, John, Josiah William, Emmanuel, Jacob and Caroline Matilda Lumpkin - were all political leaders and heads of the colonial government of Freetown. His parents were both liberated Africans from Egba in south western Nigeria.[2] Lewis travelled to England by way of the relationship between his father William and the captain of a merchant ship that was shipping goods from Freetown to England.

Political career and legal luminary

Lewis went to England in 1866.[1] He entered the Middle Temple, and then the chambers of Samuel Danks Waddy. He moved on to a chancery chambers, and was called to the bar in 1871.[1] He returned to Freetown in 1872.[3]

Lewis and other Eldermen who formed the Freetown Municipal Council were able to convince the Colonial Government with civil protest to relinquish power and the day-to-day running of the Municipal Council by Black Africans.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Peter Fryer, Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, London: Pluto Press, 1984, p. 437.
  2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. Hargreaves, John D. "Lewis, Sir Samuel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/72676.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)