Portrait of Maria, Lady Nugent
There can be few greater contrasts in the collection than the one between the life of Maria, Lady Nugent (1771-1834) and that of the former slave Mary Prince (b.1788). The two women were contemporaries, although Maria was 17 years older. They both lived in the Caribbean at roughly the same time, existing on each end of an astronomical division. In the frontispiece of her journal Maria looks like a pleasant and attractive young woman, with fashionable dark curls and big bright eyes. She was born in 1771 in New Jersey into a Loyalist family which supported the British during the American War of Independence, and the family moved to England after peace had been declared. Maria married George Nugent in Belfast in 1797, and the couple went to Jamaica in 1801 when Nugent was appointed Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief there.