Princess Susana did not have the royal life she implied when she fled to the United States. Surprisingly, her name was not even Susana, to begin with. But did you know why she was known as the Colonial Con-woman?
Princess Susanna Caroline Matilda was a convicted thief who fled to America in 1770 and lived like royalty after convincing everyone that she was royalty.
What was Princess Susanna’s Real Identity?
Sarah Wilson was an Englishwoman who rose to prominence in the 18th century. Her colorful story goes as follows: she was convicted of theft in England, sent to America as a prisoner, sold into slavery, escaped, and impersonated a non-existent English princess! Although it is unclear how much truth is contained in Sarah Wilson’s story, it is undeniably an extraordinary tale of how one woman could make the best of the unfavorable circumstances she found herself in, albeit through deception and trickery. (Source: The Casual Criminalist)
The Early Life of Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson is said to have been born in 1754 in a village in Staffordshire, West Midlands, the bailiff’s daughter. She is thought to have spent her childhood in the town where she was born. Sarah, on the other hand, left for London at the age of 16 to seek employment. Some speculate that she was bored with village life and wished to become famous. This would provide a convenient explanation for her subsequent activities in America.
Sarah, in any case, was extremely fortunate. Caroline Vernon, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, George III’s wife, hired her as a maid several weeks after her arrival in London. Sarah had many opportunities to see the queen as Caroline’s servant and quickly learned a lot about life at the English court as well as the private lives of the royals.
Sarah eventually exploited her position to enrich herself. Sarah broke open the cabinet one day while she was alone in the queen’s closet and stole some jewelry, several rings, a miniature portrait of the queen, and one of the queen’s dresses. (Source: The Casual Criminalist)
How Did “Princess Susanna Caroline Matilda” Come to Be?
Sarah assumed the persona of Princess Susanna Caroline Matilda of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen Charlotte’s sister. She claimed she was forced into exile in America due to a scandal and a family feud. Sarah still had some items she stole from the queen, including the dress, the miniature portrait, and a ring. These details and Sarah’s knowledge of court procedures made her impersonation much more convincing.
The princess was invited to the homes of various Virginian gentlemen, some eager to meet a real royal while others hoped to gain favors once she was restored to her rightful place in England. Nonetheless, some people began to doubt this mysterious princess. For example, because the ‘princess’ came from a German dynasty, she was expected to speak German. On the other hand, Sarah refused to talk about this language because she couldn’t. Furthermore, some people were suspicious because they had never heard of the queen having a younger sister. (Source: Ancient-Origins)
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