Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dickson, Elizabeth

DICKSON, ELIZABETH (1793?–1862), philanthropist, was a daughter of Archibald Dalzel, author of ‘The History of Dahomy’ (1793), governor of Cape Coast Castle, and for many years connected with the commerce of West Africa. Elizabeth was probably born at Cape Coast Castle in 1793. When quite young she was sent to visit a brother, the British vice-consul at Algiers, and there the sufferings of the British captives all over Barbary made so deep an impression on her, that about 1809, when still only sixteen years old, she wrote to the English press to make known what she had seen, and to entreat that immediate steps might be taken to relieve the captives. Her communications attracted the attention of the Anti-Piratical Society of Knights and Noble Ladies, from whom she received the rights of membership and a gold medal. The matter roused public feeling, was taken up by parliament, and resulted in the despatch of Lord Exmouth's expedition [see Pellew, Edward].

Miss Dalzel married John Dickson, a surgeon in the royal navy. She continued to reside in Africa, chiefly at Tripoli, where she was highly esteemed; and there she died, 30 April 1862, aged about seventy.

[Gent. Mag. 1862, ii. 112, quoting from the Malta Times; Dalzel's History of Dahomy.]

J. H.