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Topic: Sarah Forbes Bonetta  (Read 8175 times)
« on: May 10, 2008, 10:50:30 AM »
XJaseyRaeX Offline
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I was looking at books, and i came across one that talks about an African Princess named Sarah Forbes Bonetta, who was looked after by Queen Victoria and was her god daughter.
does anyone have any more information on this Princess?

Sorry i put this in the windsors, i didnt know where else to put it.  But since Queen Victoria was her godmother i thought it could possibly go here.
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« on: May 10, 2008, 02:56:27 PM »
grandduchessella Offline
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Wikipedia:

"Sarah Forbes Bonetta was a West African Egbado tribal princess who was orphaned in inter-tribal warfare at the age of eight. Intended to be a human sacrifice, she was rescued by Captain Frederick E. Forbes of the Royal Navy, who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria, "She would be a present from the King of the blacks to the Queen of the Whites," Forbes wrote later. He named her Sara Forbes Bonetta. Victoria was impressed by the girl's exceptional intelligence, and had Sara raised as her goddaughter in the British middle class. Sara was sanctioned by Victoria to marry John Davies at Nicholas Church in Brighton in August, 1862. Davies was a West African businessman, and the couple moved there after their wedding. She died at the age of 37 in 1880 of tuberculosis."

A book on her:
Myers, Walter Dean, At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England, ISBN 0-590-48669-1

"Published in 1999, this work reconstructs the life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a child of royal African descent who became a goddaughter of Queen Victoria as well as a British celebrity. Saved from a sacrificial rite in Dahomey by English sea captain Frederick E. Forbes, orphaned Sarah (named after her rescuer and his ship) was brought to England as a gift for Queen Victoria from the Dahomian king who slaughtered her family. Victoria provided the means for Sarah--nicknamed Sally--to be educated as a young woman of privilege in a missionary school in Sierra Leone. Sally, who often returned to England to visit her benefactor, grew up to marry a West African businessman--a marriage arranged by Buckingham Palace; she named her first-born child Victoria. Returning with her husband to Africa, Sally taught in missionary schools until she died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-six. Working from a packet of letters he discovered in a London bookstore, Myers tells Sally's story, which he embellishes with quotes from Queen Victoria's diary, newspapers, and other memoirs of the time. A critic in Kirkus Reviews commented, "This vividly researched biography will enthrall readers, and ranks among Myers's best writing." Calling At Her Majesty's Request a "fascinating biography" and a "moving and very humane portrait of a princess," a reviewer in Publishers Weekly concluded that Myers "portrays a young woman who never truly belongs." "



Page of photos at the National Portrait Gallery:

http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?LinkID=mp63230
« Last Edit: May 10, 2008, 03:01:42 PM by grandduchessella » Logged

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Reply #2
« on: May 10, 2008, 02:57:36 PM »
grandduchessella Offline
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The most common image of her:



Some more info:

In 1848, the King of Dahomey forced a number of inhabitants of a neighbouring city into slavery. One of them was this young girl, about 5 years old at the time. A few years later, in 1850, a British ship named 'Sally Bonnetta' under Captain Forbes, arrived in Dahomey to negotiate the suppression of the slave trade. He asked the King for the little girl as a present and she was brought back to England, being given the name Sally Bonnetta Forbes. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert received her at Windsor Castle, and subsequently took an interest in her education. After Sally's marriage in 1862, Queen Victoria acted as godmother to her first child, Victoria. She died in Madeira on 24 August 1880.

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« on: May 10, 2008, 03:11:49 PM »
grandduchessella Offline
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Newly-wed in 1862


1862 with husband


She had married James Labulo Davies, an African Merchant of Victoria Road Brighton at St Nicholas Church on 14 August 1862.
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« on: May 10, 2008, 03:20:42 PM »
XJaseyRaeX Offline
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Thanks for the information Grandduchessella

do you know how many children Sarah and James had?
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« on: May 10, 2008, 09:25:59 PM »
grandduchessella Offline
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There were 2 children, but I've only found the name of her daughter, Victoria.

Here's some further info on Sarah though:

"The wedding party, which arrived from West Hill Lodge, Brighton in ten carriages and pairs of grays, was made up of White ladies with African gentlemen, and African ladies with White gentlemen. There were sixteen bridesmaids. In his journal, Captain Frederick Forbes gave an account of his mission with relation to Miss Bonetta: "I have only to add a few particulars about my extraordinary present 'the African Child' - one of the captives of this dreadful slave-hunt was this interesting girl". "It is usual to reserve the best born for the high behest of royalty and the immolation on the tombs of the diseased nobility. For one of these ends she has been detained at court for two years, proving, by her not having been sold to slave dealers, that she was of good family"."She is a perfect genius; she now speaks English well, and has a great talent for music. She has won the affections, but with few exceptions, of all who have known her. She is far in advance of any white child of her age, in aptness of learning, and strength of mind and affection". "

Here's Victoria:



Vicoria " who was presented to Queen Victoria. Upon the death of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the Queen wrote in her diary: "Saw poor Victoria Davies, my black godchild, who learnt this morning of the death of her dear mother". So proud was Queen Victoria of Sarah's daughter, that when she passed her music examination, teachers and children had one day holiday."
« Last Edit: May 10, 2008, 09:39:26 PM by grandduchessella » Logged

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« on: May 10, 2008, 09:29:35 PM »
grandduchessella Offline
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"Sarah Forbes Bonetta was named after a ship and its commander. After Britain had outlawed the slave trade, there was still illegal transatlantic trading operating from West Africa. British naval patrols intercepted slaves and put pressure on the kingdoms of West Africa to cease the trafficking. Commander Forbes, in charge of the Bonetta, was patrolling the coast of what is now Benin and, during negotiations with the local ruler, was off ered eight-year-old Sarah as a captive. Forbes's story was that if he refused to take Sarah whom he described as a 'juvenile princess', she would be killed or shipped across the Atlantic as a slave. 'Of her own history,' Forbes wrote, 'she has only a confused idea. Her parents were decapitated; of her brothers and sisters she knows not what their fate might have been. For her age, she is a perfect genius; she now speaks English well and has a great talent for music.' Forbes took her on as a ward of the crown, brought her back to Britain and raised her as part of his family. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were touched by her story and sponsored her, paying for her baptism and education. This picture was taken in 1862 when she was 20 . Bonetta lived in Brighton and married a compatriot, James Davies. He had been captured and freed by the British and set up as a West African business man in importsexports. They had two children. The daughter, named after Victoria, went to Cheltenham Ladies College."
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