RESISTANCE ABOARD SHIP
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- Astley, Thomas, A New General Collection of Voyages
and Travels, Vol. II, London, 1745
- (notes and quotations: Astley's source here is
Snelgrave's New Account of Some parts of Guinea and the Slave Trade)
506 As they
generally suspect they are to be eaten he took care immediately to
acquaint them that they were brought to till the ground etc. and that if
any one abused them on board they should air their complaint to the
linguist to have justice done them; but that if they are to make a
disturbance or offered to strike a white man, they should expect to be
When they purchase Negroes the sturdy men
are coupled together with irons, but the women and children are suffered
to go freely about. And soon after they have sailed from the coast
the men are loosened.
They are fed twice a day and allowed in
fair weather to come upon the deck at 7 in the morning and remain there
until sunset. Every Monday they are served with pipes and tobacco.
The men Negroes lodge separate from the women and children and the
places they lie are cleared every day under some white mens supervision.
506 Mutiny (1704)
400 Negroes 10 white men able to do
service. Many were dead, others sick, 12 people were gone ashore
to fetch wood. They rose just before supper. None had been
able to remove their irons as they had always been carefully examined
morning and evening. 3 white men stood on watch with cutlasses one
of whom being on the forecastle and seeing them lay hold of the chief
mate in order to throw him overboard, soon made them quit him, who ran
to the quarter deck to get arms. Snelgrave was sick of an ague on a
couch in the great cabin. Hearing a cry of mutiny took 2 pistols
and ran on deck with them. On deck gave one to his father (the captain)
and one to the mate. They went forward on the Booms, calling to
the Negroes, who little regarded their threats being busy with the
Centry, who had disengaged the Chief Mate. They had seized
him but not being able to break the line which fastened the cutlass to
his wrist, could not make use of it upon which they tried to throw him
overboard. Which he prevented by clinging fast to one of them.
Old Snelgrave ventured at last amongst
them to save this fellow, and fired his pistol over their heads thinking
to frighten them. But a lusty slave almost stunned him with the stroke
of a billet and was going to repeat his blow when a young lad about 17
whom he had been kind to, received the stroke upon his arm, by which the
bone was fractured. At the same instant the mate shot the negro
with his pistol at sight of which the mutiny ceased and all those on the
forecastle threw themselves on their faces, crying out for mercy.
Upon examination not above 20 men were concerned and the 2
ringleaders when they found their project defeated jumped overboard and
were drowned. Which was all the loss they suffered.
Kormantines on the Gold Coast are the most stubborn fellows. In
1721 Snelgrave bought a good many of these people whom he secured well
in irons and watched narrowly. However they mutinied at a place
called Mumford on the same coast. There were five hundred negroes on
board, 300 of them men, but then he had 50 white men all in health and
very good officers. The mutiny began at midnight when the moon shone
very bright. The two centries at the fore hatch way suffered 4 negroes
to go at once to the house of office, and neglecting to lay the grating
again, four more came up. These eight having gotten off their irons fell
all together on the the 2 centries, who immediately called out for help.
The negros tried to force their cutlasses from them but the line yards
by which they were fastened to their wrists were so twisted in the
scuffle that they could not get them off before assistance came up.
Upon this the negros jumped overboard but they found them all
clinging to the cable the ship was moored by.
After they were secured the Captain asked them how they came to mutiny.
They answered he was a great rogue to buy them, in order to carry
them away from their own country and that they were resolved to regain
their liberty if possible. He replied that they had forfeited
their freedom before he bought them either by crimes or being prisoners
of war and finding they had no ill usage on board to complain of, he
observed to them that if they should gain their point and escape to the
shore, their countrymen would catch them and sell them to other ships.
This had its effect for they immediately begged pardon and went
quietly to sleep.
507 However in a
few days they were plotting again and one of the ringleaders proposed to
a linguist that if he would get them an axe he would in the night cut
the ships cable by which means on her driving ashore, they could get out
and would become his servants during life. The linguist (or broker)
acquainted the Captain with this. This made Snelgrave very uneasy.
Learning the Kormantines to be desperate fellows who despised punishment
and even death itself. For it has often happened at
Barbados...that on their being any ways hardly dealt with to break them
of their stubbornness in refusing to work, 20 or more, have hanged
themselves at a time, in one plantation.
507 Mutiny on
another ship. Full moon. They saw 2 negroes swimming from (a
ship) who were torn to pieces by sharks, before they could reach them.
Coming to the ships side they found two other negroes holding by a
rope, with their heads just above water, being frightened at the sight
of their two countrymens fate. One had found the cooks ax and
surprised by the cooper, split his skull. Captain invited captains of
all 8 other ships then at Anomabu to his ship. They
sentenced the assailant to death. His answer was that he
confessed it was a rash action in his to kill the cooper, but . . .
Snelgrave to consider that if he put him to death he should
lose all the money he had paid for him. S replied that though it was
customary in his country to commute for murder with money, yet it
was not so with the English. Other captains returned to their
ship, called slaves on deck.
The Hour- Glass being run out the
murderer was carried on the Ship's Forecastle where he had a rope
fastened under his arms in order to be hoisted up to the fore yard arm
to be shot to death. Some of his countrymen, observing how the
rope was fastened bid him not to be afraid saying it was plain he
was not to be put to death else the rope would have been put about his
neck to hang him, for they had no notion of his being to be shot. But
they immediately saw the contrary for as soon as he was hoisted up, ten
white men, placed behind the barricado on the quarter deck fired
their muskets and instantly killed him. This struck a sudden damp
upon all the negromen who thought on account of his profit that he would
have spared him. The body being let down on deck the head was cut
off and thrown overboard. This was done to let the negros
see that all who offended thus should be served in the same manner.
For many of the blacks believe that if they are put to death and
not dismembered they shall return to their own country after they are
tells of Capt Messery who on his first voyage called at a village just
after a war (salt-rice palaver) and was able to buy 300 slaves in a few
days. Snelgrave advised Messery to be very careful as he had
gotten so many negroes of one country together. Next day Snelgrave
went to Messery's ship. Seeing Messery go himself on the main deck when
the negroes were at supper and put pepper and palm oil in their rice,
observed to him the imprudence of going near them when at victuals or at
any time, without a good guard of white men with fire arms. Messery
thanked Snelgrave but did not relish his advice saying the
Master's Eye makes the House Fat.
En route to Jamaica being at the
forecastle amongst the men negroes when they were at victuals, they laid
hold of him and beat out his brains with little tubs out of which they
eat their boiled rice. This mutiny having been plotted by
all the negroes on board they ran to fore part of the ship in a body and
endeavoured to face the barricado on the quarter deck not regarding the
muskets or half pieces presented at them by the white men through the
loop holes. So that at last the chief mate was obliged to order one of
the quarter deck guns laden with partridge shot to be fired among them
whereby nearly 80 of them were killed or drowned, many jumped overboard
when the gun went off. This indeed put an end to the mutiny but
after it most of the rest through sullenness starved themselves to
death and after the ship arrived at Jamaica they attempted twice to
mutiny before the sale begun.