Dido Belle at Kenwood House - a life of privilege and prejudice Life before Kenwood Very little is known about Dido before she was baptised aged 5 in London. Use the biography on the next page to answer these three questions 1) How did Dido Belle’s father meet her mother? 2) Where is Dido Belle’s mother? 3) Did she ever see her father again? Captain John Lindsay John Lindsay was a Captain in the British Navy. At this point in history British sea power was expanding. In 1761 he was sent to Jamaica, where he successfully captured a French gunship. In 1762 He fought a battle outside Havana, during this battle the British fleet captured 9 Spanish ships, holding enslaved people. By 1763 Lindsay had met Maria Belle- Dido’s mother. He briefly returned to England to receive a Knighthood. Then he set sail to the West Indies. There is no evidence that Maria Belle came to England. 1766 he returned to England and gets appointed as government representative for Aberdeen and Montrose. He lived in Scotland and then set sail again for India in 1769. In 1788 he died leaving money to two other children but not Dido. Final acknowledgement of Dido Belle Accepted into life at Kenwood? Dido Bell was baptised in London in 1766. She was 5 years old and was sent to live with her great Uncle- Lord Mansfield. Her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray was one year older and was already living in Kenwood because her mother had died and her father was a British Ambassador in Europe. The two girls were said to have been close. Take a closer look at the painting of them and see what you think. • Yes she was well looked after • Wearing a very expensive silk dress • Wearing pearls • Looks happy and energetic • Looks like Elizabeth has placed a loving arm on Dido • The person who commissioned this painting wanted to show off their surroundings • She was seen as very different to the family • She is caring a basket of fruits that would have been seen as exotic where as Elizabeth • • • • • is carrying a book- showing that she is educated She is pointing to her face- highlighting the colour of her skin The different skin tones is highlighted even more due to the colour of the backgrounds Her headdress is a turban with an ostrich feather, this was a symbol seen frequently in pictures of black people. This is the only other image of A black person in Kenwood House- how does it compare to the portrait of Dido Belle? What can one letter show us? • Dido could read and write, so the Mansfield’s had invested money in her education • He was friendly with Didomaking a joke about her perfect hand writing • Dido helped Lord Mansfield with his workthis would have been an important role as Lord Mansfield was an important political and legal figure. Kenwood Guests Lord and Lady Mansfield used Kenwood to entertain. One guest Thomas Hutchinson revels a lot about Dido’s privilege but also the prejudice in one letter. From the extract of the letter can you find phrases that show prejudice and phrases that show privilege? Imagine you are Dido or Lord Mansfield, write a diary entry about Thomas Hutchinson. Thomas Hutchinson’s visit- 1779 'A Black came in after dinner and sat with the ladies, and after coffee, walked with the company in the gardens, one of the young ladies having her arm within the other. She had a very high cap, and her wool was much frizzed in her neck, but not enough to answer the large curls now in fashion. She is neither handsome nor genteel – pert enough…[Lord Mansfield] calls her Dido, which I suppose is all the name she has. He knows he has been reproached for shewing a fondness for her - I dare say not criminal'. 'She is a sort of Superintendent over the dairy, poultry yard, &c, which we visited, and she was called upon by my Lord every minute for this thing and that, and shewed the greatest attention to everything he said.’ Freedom • When Lord Mansfield died in 1793, his will stated: ‘I conform to Dido Elizabeth Belle her Freedom.’ • Why did he have to do that?