Dido Elizabeth Belle
She was born a slave in 1761 or 1763 in the British West Indies. Her mother was a black enslaved woman called Maria Belle and her father, Sir John Lindsay was a British naval officer. She was born a slave because her parents were not married and, at the time, a child born to a slave parent was automatically a slave. It did not matter that Elizabeth’s father was a British or a high-ranking officer because of relationships between whites and enslaved blacks were greatly frowned upon.
After being knighted as an admiral, Sir John Lindsay took his daughter with him to England and sent her to live with his uncle and aunt, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. Because of her father’s status, Belle was bestowed with the title of heiress and was given the role of a lady’s companion rather than a servant or slave.
Though Dido Elizabeth Belle was able to have free reigns to a certain extent, she couldn’t partake in activities such as having dinner with guests. She was acknowledged as a member of the family, yet excluded from certain functions but still enjoyed her royalty.