Miss Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a West
African of royal blood, was orphaned in a brutal massacre in her
home country at the age of eight.
She was captured and later given
to Queen Victoria who, impressed by the girl's natural regal manner
and exceptional intelligence, was pleased to give her sanction to
be married in St, Nicholas Church in Brighton in August 1862.
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 decease 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".
Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums
archive (Brighton Gazette August 1862)
Sarah had a daughter named Victoria
Davies, 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.
Sarah Forbes Bonetta
(Click on pictures for enlarged
Sarah and James Davies,
Daughter of Sarah Forbes Bonetta Davies