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'Further Papers respecting the Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa and the System Pursued for its Suppression' [‎77r] (21/50)

The record is made up of 1 volume (25 folios). It was created in 29 Oct 1869. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Indian merchant named Laka Kangi, living there under British protection, either to sell or
charter her, at his discretion. Not finding a purchaser, he chartered her to a company of
Mombas Arabs, who placed on board a valuable cargo of cloth and powder, and sailed in
her for Lindi, a port about fifty miles south of Quiloa. After landing part of their cargo
at Quiloa, they proceeded on their voyage; but on passing Kiswara harbour, about twenty
miles farther to the south, they ran out of watjr, having met, it is said, with contrary
winds. On entering the bay they were seen by Her Majesty's ship " Nymphe," Edward
Spicer Meara, Esq., Commander; and being ordered to go on board, they lowered their
boat and . did so. It would seem that Commander Meara, and most of the officers, were
then in the boats near shore; but on his return to the ship, the dhow was examined, and
it being found that, of 42 persons who were on board, 6 were slaves; she was detained
on the ground that she was engaged in the Slave Trade. A pass which she carried from
the Sultan is eaid to have been destroyed by the captors.
The detention seems to have taken place on the 3rd of April last, and on the 5th of
that month, or, as would appear from Mr. Kirk's despatch, on the next day after the
detention. Three of the " Nymphe's " officers who surveyed the dhow having reported that
she was not in a sufficiently seaworthy condition to be sent to a port of adjudication, she
was, after being measured, destroyed by command of Meara's orders; the passengers and
crew of the dhow were then sent on shore, excepting the six slaves and three of the crew,
who refused to land, and were carried by the captors to Zanzibar. The case was brought
before the Acting Consul as Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court at Zanzibar on the 14th
of April last, at the suit of Commander Meara. It was defended by the Sultan's agent.
It was contended that the dhow was liable to condemnation on the following grounds:—
1. Because she had 6 slaves on board, some of whom it was alleged were to be sold
at Ugao, the region between Cape Delgado and Rovuma.
2. Because the goods and merchandize on board were intended for the purchase of
3. Because she had on board slave papers and lists of slaves.
But on all these grounds the captor's case seems to have entirely failed.
On examination of the papers found on board, it appeared that the greater part
consisted of native correspondence on matters of business, which had no reference in any
way to the Slave Trade. Amongst other documents produced in Court was a translation
of the Sultan's pass, the original having, it would seem, been destroyed by the captors at
the time of the detention. There were, indeed, two slave lists on board; but these were
respectively a year and a-half and eight months old, both of them, as Mr. Kirk remarks,
having been made out at a time when slavingVas allowed by Treaty along 500 miles of the
Zanzibar coast; and Mr. Kirk observes that it was the duty of the interpreter to have
pointed out the dates to the captors ; but that it appeared in Court that he could read
neither Arabic nor Sowahili, and could not translate the Sultan's pass, which he had
himself assisted to destroy.
As to the goods and merchandize there seems to have been no sort of proof that they
were intended for the purchase of slaves.
There only remained the fact that 6 slaves had been found on board. But from
their evidence in Court it was clearly proved that they were, and long had been, domestic
slaves in the service of the merchant passengers.
It was further argued by the Sultan's Agent that the dhow had a pass from His
Highness granted in due form ; that she was on a voyage from Mpmbas to Zanzibar, and
thence to Ugao, where she was to buy grain, oil, and copal; that the Arab agents for the
sale of the cargo were on board ; that the 6 slaves found on board were only the necessary
attendants of the Arab merchants; and that the idea of taking slaves from Mombas and
Zanzibar to Ugao was as absurd as to take English goods to England for sale, an
argument in which Mr. Kirk seems to have fully concurred.
In reply. Commander Meara could only fall back on the wording of a single clause in
his instructions, which specifies the presence of slaves on board as one of the grounds for
detaining a vessel. No other ground appears to have been advanced by the captor ; and
after a very careful examination of the evidence, Mr. Kirk came to the conclusion (and I
do not see how he could have arrived at any other) that the dhow was not engaged in the
Slave Trade, and that there was not any proof that she was intended for it; but, on the
contrary, that she was a legal trader. And seeing that the vessel had been destroyed at
so short a distance from Zanzibar, in a case where there was so little proof, and that she
had been taken with a valuable cargo on board in one of the Sultan's harbours, he
pronounced the summary destruction of the dhow was unwarrantable, and that her owners
were entitled to compensation for the loss of the property and goods,
[410] ' G

About this item


This file contains correspondence between British officials regarding their attempts to monitor and prohibit slave traffic on the East Coast of Africa. The correspondence dates from March 1869 to October 1869.

Of particular interest are the following folios:

  • Folio 71 - French Government boat registration papers that had been given to 'Arab Dhows' allowing them to travel under the French flag.
  • Folio 73 - A chart entitled 'Memorandum of Number of Slaves landed and liberated at Aden, and how disposed of'.
  • Folio 74 - A copy of the Slave Trade Jurisdiction (Zanzibar) Bill, May 1869.
  • Folios 89-91 - 'A Memorandum by Mr. Churchill [Henry Adrian Churchill, Britain's Agent in Zanzibar] respecting Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa'.
Extent and format
1 volume (25 folios)

The file is arranged in rough chronological order, with the earliest correspondence at the beginning of the file and the latest at the end of the file.

Physical characteristics

Condition: contained within a bound volume that contains a number of other files.

Foliation: The foliation for this description commences at f 67, and terminates at f 91, as it is part of a larger physical volume; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 5-134; these numbers are written in pencil, but are not circled, and can be found in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'Further Papers respecting the Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa and the System Pursued for its Suppression' [‎77r] (21/50), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B84, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 20 February 2020]

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