I thought in light of the many "black" posts, this would be quite an appropriate time to post this as a reminder to all that colour & race are not
barriers to success and acceptance but perhaps attitude is
Sarah Forbes Bonetta was a Princess of the African Tribe of the Yoruba People of Nigeria. She was taken as a slave when her parents were killed when
her village was sacked by the major slave trader of 1847 King Gezo of Dahomey who took Sarah prisoner then aged 4 where she remained until 1849. At
that time an English Commander Frederick Forbes persuaded King Gezo to give Sarah as a present to Queen Victoria from "The King of the Blacks to the
Queen of the Whites". She remained with Forges for a year in Africa where she was baptised Sarah and educated whereupon Forbes wrote "
“She is a perfect genius; she now speaks English well, and [has] great talent for music… She is far in advance of any white child of her age in
aptness of learning, and strength of mind and affection
Forbes then took her to England in 1850 and introduced her to Queen Victoria who was highly impressed with the girl and when Forbes died unexpectedly
in 1851, Queen Victoria named her her goddaughter and ensured she had the best possible education. Unfortunately Sarah developed a cough and Queen
Victoria sent her briefly to Sierra Leone in the hope that the better weather would cure her, however Sarah was very unhappy there and returned in
1855 but still unwell. In 1862 Sarah was a guest at the wedding of the Princess Royal Victoria and a year later Sarah herself received permission to
marry Captain James Pinson Lubella Davies of Sierra Leone and had a most lavish wedding in Brighton where the guests were made up of "White gentlemen
with African ladies and White Ladies with African Gentlemen". The marriage was shortlived however with Sarah dying of tuberculosis in 1880 at the age
of 37 on the island of Madeira. Queen Victoria continued to provide for Sarah's daughter Victoria and supported her education and gave her an annuity
and her descendants can be found both in Nigeria and England with one branch the aristocratic Randle family being very prominent in Lagos. Clearly the
colour of her skin or her race did not stop her achievments
Sarah & Husband Captain James Davies
It should be noted that Sierra Leone was a part of the British Empire and later the Commonwealth and many freed American Slaves who fought on the side
of the British during the War of Independance were repatriated there by the British after the abolition of slavery campaigned for by the Quakers &
Society of Friends and of course in Parliament by William Wilbeforce, and last but not least Ignatius Sancho author & abolitionist from 1729-1780
another well respected influential black man
Little is know about John Blanke but he should be mentioned as being possibly the 1st black musician who attended at the lavish functions of Henry
VIII and he is recorded in various scrolls and paintings. This was in the 16th Century and again, clearly not a slave not it would seem a subject of
racism due to his seemingly favoured position. More striking i think is the fact that despite his colour it would seem from research that he was not
marked out as anything special or unusual as one might imagine. It is thought he may have been brought to England with Catherine of Aragon in 1501 as
part of her entourage which in itself indicates an absence of the racism we know today.
Another trumpeteer was recorded as early as 1470 on the Royal Ship Barcha of Naples and black drummers were recorded as being at the court of James IV
in Edinburgh. Tudor England it seems was awash with Black people from many parts of Africa most of whom were highly talented skilled workmen &
craftsmen and their wares were highly prized by English Royalty. These blacks were referred to as black mores or blackmoors and burial records are
available that verify their existence. However little or no mention is made of their skin colour or race in records other than simply black more which
gives rise to the belief that skin colour or race were simply not important enough to mention as much as say, ability or skill.
This links to a superb rendition of black Knights who were buried in Ipswich and whose skeletons appeared to be from North African probably Tunisia
and dated around 1190.
The fact that these remains were found at a Friary and on consecrated ground also indicates that they must have been Christians and possibly holy
That leads me to believe that perhaps black people were far more commonplace that we once thought throughout history well before the onset of the
business of slavery and that no discrimination was made with black people finding their way into high society through quality workmanship, exceptional
nobility & bearing or many such other skills. Doors were not barred because of the colour of their skin. Many blacks were nobles and enjoyed life at
the Courts of the Kings & Queens of Europe where it would appear that the colour of ones' skin was certainly not the stigma we are lead to believe it
is today. Black Coats of Arms can still be seen in many European towns & cities such as the one below. Not only that but it would seem the whole
phenomenon of racism as we know it today, was not in existence then from as far back as the middle ages at least and this is evidence by the number of
Blacks in Portugal prior to and during the Portuguese slave trade agreements with the various African Kings, which in itself shows that slavery was
NOT based on race or skin colour. It was not unusual in the slightest to see blacks on the streets of Portugal and not enslaved blacks. It seems from
early literature that race was an alien concept during the middle ages and before, whiteness or blackness were not differentiated, which does make
finding accurate figures difficult when no "colour" is mentioned. In fact many Kings & Queens in Europe sported black ancestry and many noble houses
were in fact black.
How many knew that the famous French General of the Revolution Thomas Alexandre Dumas was in fact black?
So when did this current "racism" start? That is the question since clearly being black in the past was no barrier to all kinds of success and
edit on 20-7-2016 by PhyllidaDavenport because: (no reason given)