William Cuffay’s father, known as Chatham Cuffay, spent his early years in St. Kitts. His parents were slaves who had possibly been freed and their son Chatham Cuffay is likely to have been born into slavery. He emigrated to Medway from St. Kitts in 1772 with his mother. He was about 17 years old at the time. He was baptised in February 1772, soon after his arrival, and in 1779 found employment at Chatham Dockyard.

In 1786 Chatham Cuffay married Juliana Fox who was probably a local woman. They had 5 children, William was the oldest. He was born in 1788 and baptised at St. Mary’s in Gillingham on 6 July that year.

Cuffay and Juliana Fox marriage certificate 1786

Marriage of William Cuffay’s Parents: Chatham Cuffay and Juliana Fox. St Mary Magdalene Gillingham Parish records, Banns and Marriage register, 1770-1791 Reference: P150/1/20 (3)