Sara Forbes Bonetta
Sara Forbes Bonetta was a West African Egbado Omoba who was orphaned in inter-tribal warfare and subsequently captured by slave-raiders. Intended by her Dahomeyan captors 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. Bonetta after his ship the HMS Bonetta. Victoria was impressed by the young princess' exceptional intelligence, and had Sara raised as her goddaughter in the British middle class.
In 1851 Forbes Bonetta gained a long lasting cough, believed to be caused by the climate of Great Britain. She was sent to school in Africa in May of that year, at age eight, but was unhappy and returned to England in 1855 at the age of twelve. In January 1862 she was invited to and attended the wedding of the princess royal Victoria. She was later sanctioned by the Queen to marry Captain James Davies at St Nicholas' Church in Brighton in August, 1862, after a period which was to be spent in the town in preparation for the wedding. During her subsequent time in Brighton, she lived at 17 Clifton Hill in the Montpelier area. Captain Davies was a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth for the period, and the couple moved back to their native Africa after their wedding.
Sara was subsequently baptized at a church in the town of Badagry, a former slave port. She died at the age of 37 in 1880 of tuberculosis. Her husband had previously been concerned about her because she appeared to have had a cough that would not go away; she was eventually diagnosed with what was termed the consumption. Her daughter by him, christened Victoria, also served as the goddaughter of the Queen of the British Empire. A great many of both her and his daughter's descendants now live in England and Sierra Leone while a separate group of them, the aristocratic Randle family of Lagos, remains prominent in contemporary Nigeria.
- Brighton and Hove Black History
- Image archive
- Myers, Walter Dean, At Her Majesty's Request: An African Princess in Victorian England, ISBN 0-590-48669-1 (some information for this article was derived from the editorial reviews of this book as listed here: )
- Queen Victoria: A Biographical Companion By Helen Rappaport p307