Examples from sources
The following provide some sense of how race is recorded in a range of historical source. Please note that the following make use of terms that would be unacceptable today.
"a certain Abbot Hadrian, a man of African race and well versed in the holy Scriptures, trained both in monastic and ecclesiastical ways and equally skilled in the Greek and Latin tongues."
Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Book IV, c. late 7th century.
Marriage of "Salomon Cowrder of Popler a niger sailler & Katheren Castilliano a niger also, he came out of East Indies"
The marriage registers of St. Dunstan's Stepney, in the County of Middlesex, 3 September 1610
"unto the negro called Domingo, my servant, I give £50"
Will of Robert Blake (1650s), Letters of Robert Blake, Navy Records Society (vol. 76)
"To-day school commenced.. There is one young girl and only one—Miss [Sarah] B[rown] who I believe thoroughly and heartily appreciates anti-slavery,—radical anti-slavery, and has no prejudice against color. I wonder that every colored person is not a misanthrope. Surely we have everything to make us hate mankind... Oh! it is hard to go through life meeting contempt with contempt, hatred with hatred, fearing, with too good reason, to love and trust hardly any one whose skin is white"
A Free Negro in the Slave Era: The Journal of Charlotte L. Forten, 12 September 1855
" "The League of Coloured Peoples" was inaugurated at a meeting, attended principally by coloured students from the Colonies, which was held on Friday at the Central Y.M.C.A, Tottenham Court-road. The provisional objects of the organization are to promote the economic, educational, political, and social interests of coloured peoples"
The Times, 16 March 1931
"Primrose Hill, negro and negress who live in flat underneath one where I am staying just entering in evening dress."
Mass observation online, Day Survey Respondent Unidentified, March 1937 - December 1938