Meet A Goddaughter Of Queen Victoria, Sarah Forbes Bonetta

Date: 09-04-2014 1:18 pm (7 years ago) | Author: Abidex Samuel
- at 9-04-2014 01:18 PM (7 years ago)

A little girl, who hailed from the territory of modern Nigeria, had a really powerful Godmother, probably, the most powerful person on the Earth in the 19th century, – Queen Victoria.

But how was it possible? The story below explains it.
The future Goddaughter of the queen, Sarah Forbes Bonetta, was a West African Egbado Omoba (now the Yewa clan of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria), who was orphaned and captured in a war between her tribe and the Dahomeyans.
The girl escaped being sacrificed by a miracle: she was saved by a British naval officer, Frederick Forbes, who was on a mission in the autumn of 1849 to negotiate an end to the slave trade among the Dahomans.
King Ghezo of Dahomey handed the Nigerian girl over to the officer, as a gift for Queen Victoria. Forbes took her on his ship, the HMS Bonetta. These words formed her adoptive name.

The picture above, tagged “The Dahoman Captive”, 1851, was painted by Octavius Oakley.

The naval officer was really impressed by how quickly the little girl learnt English. He said she was far brighter than most British girls he knew. She was also a gifted musician. The girl lived with the Forbes family for a year.
The queen also appreciated the intelligence of the African child, whom she called “Sally”. Queen Victoria remained Sally’s friend and protector until she was old enough to marry.
The monarch cared about Sally so much that she has even sent her to Sierra Leone for education. The Queen thought the damp weather of the British Islands may harm the child. But Sally was very unhappy, and in 1855 the Queen agreed for her to return to England.

n August 1862 Sally reluctantly submitted to marriage with James Davis, a Yoruba businessman (pictured above). It seems that Sally put up resistance, but having deemed him suitable the Queen put pressure on her to accede to his request.
The wedding, in Brighton, was extravagant: there were 16 bridesmaids, and the wedding party was made up of white ladies with African gentlemen, and African ladies with white gentlemen.
Sally visited Queen Victoria in 1867 with her daughter, whom she christened Victoria and also became the Queen’s Goddaughter, and then returned to Lagos. She was blessed with two more children there.
Unfortunately, her poor health led to untimely death at the age of 37 in 1880. She was buried in Funchal Madeira.
When the news of her death reached the Queen, Victoria wrote in her diary: “Saw poor Victoria Davies, my black godchild, who learnt this morning of the death of her dear mother”.
The Queen maintained contacts with Sally’s daughter. Victoria was really proud of her another African Goddaughter when she passed her music examination. The Queen has even approved had a day’s holiday for teachers and children.
To sum up, the story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta should not be romanticised too much. Yes, she had a comfortable life, but still lacked freedom and happiness.
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Posted: at 9-04-2014 01:18 PM (7 years ago) | Upcoming
- maryclaret at 9-04-2014 03:52 PM (7 years ago)
Interesting bit of history....I did hear about this some time when I was watching a documentary....

Posted: at 9-04-2014 03:52 PM (7 years ago) | Gistmaniac