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Portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, c.1862

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3043CC

Scope and Contents

56 x 85 mm. A carte de visite studio portrait.

The print shows a full length portrait against a rustic backdrop of Sarah Forbes Bonetta and her husband James Pinson Labulo Davies. The print is inserted into slits made in the title page of Forbes (1851), opposite the chromolithographed frontispiece showing Sarah Forbes as a young girl. Sarah Forbes was a Yoruba girl captured by the King of Dahomey in 1848 during a war in which her parents were killed. She was given as a present to Commander Forbes when he was visited Dahomey as an emissary of the British Government in 1850, and she subsequently took Forbes' name as well as that of his ship, the 'Bonetta'. She returned to England with Forbes who presented her to Queen Victoria, who in turn gave her over to the Church Missionary Society to be educated. She attended the Female Institution in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and later returned to England where she was placed under the charge of Mr and Mrs Schön at Chatham. In 1862 she married, at Brighton, James Pinson Labulo Davies, a merchant of Sierra Leonean origin who later settled in Lagos where he was a member of the Legislative Council from 1872-74 (in which year Lagos Colony was for a time amalgated into the Gold Coast). This photograph was probably taken shortly after their marriage. Sarah Forbes Bonetta died in 1880, aged about 43.


  • Creation: 1862


Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (


1 item(s) (1 image)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition, apart from small torn patch in emulsion at left hand corner.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection is available on microfiche: Africa, fiche numbers 54. CN 568 and CN 569.


This print is found in: Forbes, Frederick Edwyn (1851), 'Dahomey and the Dahomans', vol. 2, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. Please order in the Rare Books Room, classmark RCS.A.43.41. The biographical information came from: Stock, E (1899), 'History of Church Missionary Society, vol.2', London; Simpson, D.H. (1967), 'Bishop Vidal of Sierra Leone', 'Sierra Leone Studies', Freetown: Institute of African Studies of Fourah Bay, the University College of Sierra Leone, for the Sierra Leone Society.


This collection level description was entered by SG using information from the original typescript catalogue.


Silvy, Camille, fl 1862, photographer

Includes index.
2004-08-12 15:32:45+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

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