The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Stephen Damuda

Stephen Damuda

A cabinet card portrait of a young Indian boy serving in the household of Queen Victoria’s third son Prince Arthur, created Duke of Connaught in 1874, and his German wife, Princess Louise Margaret. He is seen here holding a boxed set of Noah's Ark animals.

On 17 June 1887 Queen Victoria wrote in her journal: 'Arthur & Louischen have brought back an Indian boy of 10 years old, an orphan, & a Christian, who waited at lunch. He is very quick & attentive & a pretty boy.' The Queen mentioned him again several years later, this time by name, writing in her journal on 31 December 1892 that a tableau vivant performed at Osborne had included ‘Damuda, Louischen’s Indian servant.' According to one newspaper report, Damuda played one of six ‘envoys from Ethiopia’ who visited ‘the King of Egypt,' played of course by Queen Victoria’s own favourite Indian servant, Abdul Karim. ‘For this group was chosen a Nile landscape, with Her Majesty’s Indian secretary Munshi Abdul Karim, in white robes, receiving in king-like style the homage of the six dusky envoys’ [New Zealand Herald`, 4 March 1893].

The 1891 census records his name more fully as Stephen Damuda and describes him as a sixteen-year-old 'wardrobe boy' employed in the Connaught household at Government House, Portsea. From September 1890 to 1893 Prince Arthur was the General Officer Commanding Southern District at Portsmouth.

Stephen Damuda seems to have gone back to India in 1906, when he was about 30 years old. He's listed as a passenger leaving London for Bombay on 22 August 1906 aboard the 'Arcadia'.

Photographed by Jabez Hughes and Gustav Mullins of Ryde on the Isle of Wight.


Code: 126010
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