Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Antique Image of the Day: "Sally Bonetta Forbes," 1856

Sally Bonetta Forbes, 1856
William Bambridge
The Royal Collection

The daughter of an African Chief, this young lady was imprisoned when a neighboring city invaded her own. Her family was murdered during the invasion and she was taken captive. Due to her high rank, she was held prisoner to await sacrifice upon the death of an official or other high-ranking person who would benefit from taking her with him to the afterlife.

In June of 1850, British Captain Forbes sailed to Africa on the ship, 
The Sally Bonetta, in an effort to suppress slave trading. There, he chanced to meet the king who had been taken this girl captive. Wishing to rescue the girl, Captain Forbes asked for her to be given to him “as a gift,” knowing that would be the only way to free her. The king agreed and the girl was allowed to return to England. Not knowing her name, Captain Forbes called her “Sally Bonetta” after the vessel which carried them. He gave her his own last name, adopting her as one of his daughters. She lived with his family until one day when Captain Forbes presented Sally to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The Queen and Prince adored Sally and applauded her musical talents. From that point on, Sally often stayed at Windsor Castle with Queen Victoria who acted as the girl’s godmother. Victoria paid for the girl’s schooling, praised her intellect, and encouraged her music. When Sally married in 1862, she named her first born child, “Victoria.” Queen Victoria acted as godmother to Sally’s daughter as well. This photograph was taken when “Sally” was nearly thirteen years old. It was among Queen Victoria’s most cherished images.

 Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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