Sarah Wilson was an Englishwoman who made a name for herself during the 18th century. The gist of her colorful story is that she was convicted of theft in England, sent to America as a prisoner, sold into slavery, escaped, and impersonated as a non-existent English princess! Although it is unclear as to how much truth is contained in the story of Sarah Wilson, it is undoubtedly an extraordinary tale of how one woman was able to make the most out of the unfavorable circumstances she found herself in, albeit through trickery and deceit.
Sarah Wilson’s Early Life
Sarah Wilson is said to have been born in a village in Staffordshire, in the West Midlands, in 1754 and was the daughter of a bailiff. She is presumed to have spent her childhood in the village of her birth. At the age of 16, however, Sarah left for London to seek employment. Some have suggested that she was bored of village life and desired to become famous. This would provide a convenient explanation for the motivation behind her later activities in America.
In any case, Sarah was extremely fortunate. Several weeks after her arrival in London, she was employed as a maid by Caroline Vernon, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III. As Caroline’s servant, Sarah had many opportunities to see the queen herself and quickly learned much about life at the English court, as well as the private lives of the royals.