Sunday, 10 June 2012

Jane Mahomet neé Daly

Was the mixed marriage of Sake Dean Mahomet and Jane Daly unusual in late 18th-century Ireland? Undoubtedly. Yet many people had personal experience of Asia: as soldiers, officials, merchants, or travellers. Some had Indian mistresses and Anglo-Indian children, and newspapers periodically published lists of Nabobs. One image of India prevalent at the time remained that of the exotic. Traveling carnivals and circuses, books, plays, and newspaper articles all presented India and Muslims as alien curiosities. There were plays in which the "Sultan" would kidnap a European woman into his harem, only for the plucky white woman to persevere and become the queen. So a Musselman like Sake Dean Mahomet being "converted" to Christianity by Jane on marriage might not have been seen as unknown in polite Irish society. Indeed, it was probably more acceptable than a Protestant and Catholic marrying.
While little is known of Jane's character, to leave her middle-class home and elope at the age of 16 with an exotic Indian suggests a head-strong and determined character, and she seems to have played an active part in all Mahomet's subsequent business activities.

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