In 1850 Captain Frederick Forbes visited King Ghezo of Dahomey as a representative of Queen Victoria, on a mission to discourage the slave trade. At the meeting he was given an unexpected gift: a captive girl. He named her Sarah Forbes Bonetta. Forbes after Captain Forbes, and Bonetta after his ship the HMS Bonetta.
Sarah would go on to lead a remarkable life. When she arrived in England, at just six years old, she was presented to Queen Victoria, who agreed to become Sarah’s protector. She described Sarah in her journal as "sharp and intelligent and speaking English", noting that she’s dressed as any other girl, but when her bonnet was taken off, that her little black head and big earrings “gave away her negro type.”
The Queen paid for Sarah’s education, undertaken by missionaries at Palm Cottage in Kent, and ultimately became the Godmother of her first child, named Victoria.
This plaque commemorates the six years that Sarah lived at Palm Cottage (1855–1861).
It was created by BBC History and is one of twenty placed around the world for the series Black and British: A Forgotten History.