- Darkie (Black Beauty)/Black Auster/Jack/Blackie/Old Crony — The narrator of the story, a handsome black horse. He begins his career as a carriage horse for wealthy people but when he "breaks his knees" (i.e. develops scars on the fronts of his wrist (carpal) joints after a bad fall) he is no longer considered presentable enough and is put to much harder work. He passes through the hands of a series of owners, some cruel, some kind. He always tries his best to serve humans despite the circumstances.
- Duchess (nicknamed "Pet") — Beauty's and Rob Roy's mother, who encourages Beauty to be good from a young age.
- Rob Roy — A fellow black horse from Beauty's original farm, who is killed in a hunting incident (along with his rider, Squire Gordon's only son). It is later learned that he was Beauty's half-brother, an older son of Duchess.
- Lizzie — A high-strung, nervous mare whom Lady Anne rides one day and is spooked until Black Beauty comes to her aid with his rider.
- Ginger — A companion of Beauty's at Birtwick Park, she is named for her chestnut colour and her habit of biting, which is often how the spice, ginger, is described. Ginger is a more aggressive horse due to her traumatic upbringing. After being ridden by Lord George in a steeplechase her back is strained. Beauty and Ginger meet for the last time as broken-down cab horses in London, and later a cart carrying a dead horse (whom Beauty believes is Ginger), passes by Beauty.
- Merrylegs — A short, dappled grey, handsome pony who is polite to humans and horses alike. He is ridden by the young daughters at Birtwick Park, then sent to live with a vicar who promises never to sell him.
- Sir Oliver — An older horse whose tail was docked, to his great annoyance and discomfort.
- Rory — A job horse usually paired with Black Beauty. Became a coal carting horse after getting hit in the chest by a cart driven on the wrong side of the road.
- Peggy — A hired horse who cannot run very fast due to her short legs. She runs at an odd hopping pace between a trot and a canter when expected to keep pace with other horses at a fast trot. When paired with a faster horse to pull a carriage she often gets whipped for not keeping up. Sold to two ladies who wanted a safe horse.
- Unnamed young horse — paired with Beauty after Peggy leaves. Often frightened by things he cannot see as he does not know whether they are dangerous or not.
- Captain — A former army horse who witnessed horrific incidents in the Crimean War, although he was well treated and received no serious wounds. He lost his beloved master in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He became a cab horse for Jerry, where he works with Black Beauty. After a penetrating shoulder injury from a carriage pole due to a collision with a carriage whose driver was drunk, Jerry has him shot rather than send him to work as a cart horse.
- Hotspur — A five-year-old horse bought to replace Captain. Jerry sells him to Grant when he leaves London.
- Justice — A calm peaceful horse that Beauty meets at Birtwick Park.
- Farmer Grey – Beauty's first owner, a good kind man who trains him well.
- Mr. Douglas Gordon (Squire Gordon) – A very kind and loving master who was also the squire. Lives in Birtwick Park. Has to sell Beauty and Ginger when he leaves the country because of his wife's illness.
- Mr. John Manly – Black Beauty's groom at Squire Gordon's.
- Mr. James Howard – John Manly's assistant at Squire Gordon's. He leaves to work as a coachman for Sir Clifford Williams.
- Mr. Joseph Greene (Joe) – A kind boy who replaces James at Squire Gordon's hall. Beauty becomes seriously ill after little Joe gives Beauty a pail of cold water to drink and then assumes Beauty does not need a blanket, all after a long, exhausting gallop.
- Bill — A boy who keeps thrashing and whipping a pony to attempt to make him jump a fence.
- Mrs. Bushby — Bill's mother who is worried when she hears that he fell into a bush.
- Earl of W – Purchases Beauty and Ginger from Squire Gordon. Lives in Earlshall Park.
- Lady W – Wife of Lord W. Demands that Beauty and Ginger wear bearing reins to hold their heads up high. When York tries to comply with Lady W's order Ginger lashes out, kicking everything around her.
- Mr York – Earl of W's coachman. He treats the horses kindly, but is scared to speak for the horses.
- Reuben Smith – A first rate driver who can treat a horse as well as a farrier, due to spending two years with a veterinary surgeon, and being an ostler at an inn. Unfortunately he occasionally drinks heavily. Though York tries to hide this problem, the Earl finds out and fires Reuben. York later convinces the Earl to rehire him. After taking Colonel Blantyre to town Reuben gets drunk in the White Lion, then rides Beauty back to Earlshall Park. Due to a loose nail in Beauty's shoe, which Reuben was too drunk to care about, Beauty's shoe comes off. Reuben then makes Beauty gallop over sharp stones injuring Beauty's hoof and causing him to stumble. Beauty falls and scrapes his knees, while Reuben is flung off Beauty and dies from the impact.
- Master of the livery stables – Buys Beauty and hires him out to people in Bath who wish to rent a horse. Some of the people who rent Beauty are good drivers, most are not.
- Mr Barry – Buys Beauty from the livery stables after his friend rents Beauty several times, as his doctor advised him to get more horse exercise. He tries to treat horses well, but hires two bad grooms (a thief and a humbug) due to his lack of knowledge on horse care. Decides to sell Beauty at a horse fair.
- Mr Jeremiah (Jerry) Barker – A kind owner and religious man who uses Beauty and Captain as cab horses. After Captain is injured he buys Hotspur to replace him. Refuses to work on Sunday or force his horses to go beyond a 'jog-trot' through London for customers with poor timekeeping. Though he will break these rules for a good cause. One New Year's Eve, Jerry is kept waiting in blizzard conditions by inconsiderate young men who stayed too long playing cards, contracts bronchitis, and nearly dies. Jerry's doctor tells him he must not return to cab work. Jerry takes a job with Mrs Fowler as her coachman.
- Mrs Polly Barker – Wife of Jerry. Always waits up for her husband.
- Mr Harry Barker – Son of Jerry. Helps his father look after the horses.
- Miss Dorothy (Dolly) Barker – Daughter of Jerry. Often brings food to her father.
- Mr (Grey / Governor) Grant – a respected and long serving cab driver. When Jerry is ill he takes out Hotspur and gives Jerry half the money he makes.
- Corn dealer / baker – Uses Beauty as a work horse. Works him fairly but due to the poor lighting in Beauty's stable Beauty nearly goes blind.
- Foreman – Has Beauty overloaded so that fewer journeys are required to deliver goods.
- Mr. Jakes – A carter who works for the baker. Dislikes overloading Beauty but cannot go against the foreman. Makes Beauty work with the bearing rein up until a lady shows him that Beauty would find it easier to pull the cart without the bearing rein.
- Mr. Nicholas Skinner – A ruthless cab horse owner who charges a high fee for renting cab horses. As a result the only way the drivers who rent his horse can make money is by overworking the horse, usually by whipping the horse to make it move even when tired. When Beauty collapses from overwork, Skinner plans to send Beauty to a knacker but a farrier convinces him to rest Beauty and sell him at a horse fair. Seedy Sam used to rent horses from him.
- Willie — Grandson of Farmer Thoroughgood who wants to help Black Beauty when he comes to the market with his grandfather.
- Farmer Thoroughgood – A kind owner who cares for Black Beauty when he is at his weakest.
- The three ladies – Beauty's final home, where he spends the rest of his days very well treated. The ladies are Miss Blomefield, Miss Ellen, and Miss Lavinia and are most likely sisters.
- Joseph (Joe) Greene – Coachman for the three ladies. Recognizes Beauty as the horse that used to belong to Squire Gordon.
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