She was the illegitimate daughter of a young black woman named Maria Bell and a Royal Naval officer, Sir John Lindsay. Lindsay is not recorded as the father, but he probably supported Maria over the next ten years, or at least stayed in contact, as in 1774, Maria travelled from England to Pensacola, America, to take possession of a plot of land gifted to her by Lindsay, and where she was to build a home. In episode 78 of the English Heritage podcast, we’re joined by Cathy Power and Sarah Murden to discuss the story of Dido Belle and her life at Kenwood in north London. At about the age of 6, Dido parted ways with her mother and was sent to live with her great-uncle William Murray, Earl of Mansfield, and his wife in England. Do you find this information helpful? However, art historians have noted that it is not just the colour of her skin that marks Dido as different. “He [the earl] calls her Dido, which I suppose is all the name she has.”. While in the household she received an education and an annual allowance of £30, several times the wages of a domestic servant. She died in July 1804 at age 43. Her father, John Lindsay, was a young British naval officer and nephew of Lord Mansfield, while her mother, whose name is believed to be Maria Bell, was a slave in the West Indies. With Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson. The absence of recorded information about Dido's life has made her an enigmatic figure and the source of endless speculation. “Dido” was the name of a popular 18th-century play, William Murray, a descendant of Dido’s great-uncle, later said. Dido Elizabeth Belle is best known for the 1779 painting of her alongside her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray, the great-niece of William Murray, The First Earl of Mansfield. Dido Elizabeth Belle was a girl born into slavery of mixed race, whose mother was a black African woman, Maria Belle and whose father was Rear Admiral Sir John Lindsay, nephew of the 1st Earl of Mansfield. He presided over a number of court cases that examined the legality of the slave trade. Dido Elizabeth Belle (c. 1761–July 1804) was a British aristocrat of mixed heritage. Dido lived at a time when the transatlantic slave trade was at its height, and Britain’s economic prosperity relied on slave labour in the Caribbean and Britain’s American colonies. Francis Hutchinson, an American visitor to Kenwood, described this phenomenon in a letter. Also, Dido is not positioned in a submissive pose, as Black people typically were in paintings during that time period. The one indication that Dido’s skin color did result in her being treated differently at Kenwood is that she was forbidden to take part in formal dinners with her family members. The artist David Martin seems to portray a moment caught. The portrait of the two women is highly unusual in 18th-century British art for showing a black woman as the equal of her white companion, rather than as a servant or slave. Dido Elizabeth Belle Davinier died in 1804. “It was probably chosen to suggest her elevated status,” he said. The couple had three children, twins Charles and John, baptized in 1795, and William Thomas, baptized in 1802. In John Lindsay’s obituary, which confirmed him as Dido’s father, the London Chronicle noted that ‘[her] amiable disposition and accomplishments have gained her the highest respect from all his Lordship’s relations and visitants’.

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