Abraham Johnson was born in Zanzibar where he was enslaved as a teenager. His slavery took him to China, Japan and India.
He escaped enslavement in South-East Asia before working as a member of crew on board a ship, sailing from the Indian Ocean to Liverpool.
He is referenced in records as having been rescued from a shipwreck.
Abraham worked at John Marshall’s Temple Mill in Holbeck, Leeds before settling in Bradford where he lived in a lodging house. He was married with a daughter. In Bradford he sold pamphlets and newspapers on the streets.
He was painted by John Sowden in June 1888 at the age of 40.