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New lease of life given to family graves of ‘18th century Meghan Markle’

PUBLISHED: 07:12 08 December 2017

Patrick Daly discovered the graves of Dido Belle's relatives and is having them restored, here the monument of William Daviniere, her son

Patrick Daly discovered the graves of Dido Belle's relatives and is having them restored, here the monument of William Daviniere, her son

Archant

The graves belonging to the children of one of the country’s first mix-raced aristocrats have been given a new lease of life in Kensal Green cemetery.

Patrick Daly discovered the graves of Dido Belle's relatives,  Charles Daviniere, her son and Charles Georges Daviniere, her grandson Patrick Daly discovered the graves of Dido Belle's relatives, Charles Daviniere, her son and Charles Georges Daviniere, her grandson

Dido Elizabeth Belle was born into slavery and raised into aristocracy at Kenwood House in Highgate in the 1700s.

Her son Charles Daviniere, his younger brother William Daviniere and Dido’s grandson Charles George Daviniere have all been laid to rest in the Kensal Green Cemetery in Harrow Road and undisturbed for more than a century.

Etienne Patrick Daly, a financial advisor, who has a passion for 18th Century history, paid more than £3,500 to have the graves cleaned and gilded in time for the 150th anniversary of William’s death, which was in September.

He said: “All the graves have finally been levelled and cleaned. It’s taken a year to get it done but it’s been worth it.

Charles Daviniere and Charles George Daviniere's graves, son and grandson of Dido Elizabeth Belle after they were cleaned and gilded Charles Daviniere and Charles George Daviniere's graves, son and grandson of Dido Elizabeth Belle after they were cleaned and gilded

“There was a slight delay with William’s grave as I couldn’t get it gilded. A new manager took over from the previous one who wouldn’t let it be done like the other two with which there was no problem.

“They are all in much better condition so there’s a little bit of consolation. It’s all amicable now.”

The 64-year-old was captivated by a painting of Dido, who lived for 30 years in Kenwood House.

The daughter of Maria Bell, a slave in the West Indies, and Sir John Lindsay, a naval career officer, Dido was raised by her father’s uncle William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield.

She was brought up together with her great uncle’s neice, lady Elizabeth Murray, and went on to marry a Frenchman, Jean Louis Daviniere.

Mr Daly found grandson Charles George’s resting place on the internet and guessed his father and uncle must be nearby.

He added: “Part of my research was Dido being the first mixed raced aristocrat much like Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s fiancée, is the first mixed race royal. It comes full circle in a way.

“I was happy to pay for the graves, they were in such a sorry state.”

Nathan Pritchard, manager of Kensal Green Cemetery, said: “The chief executive of the General Cemetery Company has said if Mr Daly wishes to make a special request to the board of the GCC to have the grave gilded he will be happy to discuss it.”

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