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'Further Papers respecting the Slave Trade on the East Coast of Africa and the System Pursued for its Suppression' [‎83r] (33/50)

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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Inclosure 1 in No. 12.
Commodore Sir L. Heath to the Secretary to the Admiralty.
"Forte," at Sea, Lat. 5° 14' S., Long. 66° 32' E.,
Sir, July 31, 1869.
I INCLOSE you, for their Lordships' information, a copy of a letter from the
Acting Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. at Zanzibar, complaining of the unfitness of the interpreters attached
to the squadron.
2. It is of the greatest consequence, for the credit of Her Majesty's Service, that
everything should be done which can in any way help the officers commanding Her
Majesty's ships employed in suppressing the Slave Trade in the difficult task of
discriminating between legal and illegal traders ; and since there is a general concurrence
amongst the Indian Political officers in the opinion expressed by Dr. Kirk, and since the
Sultan of Zanzibar has recently made a similar complaint, I beg to suggest that the
responsibility of selecting and examining interpreters for service in Her Majesty's ships
should be left in future with the Bombay Government, who have in the native seafaring
population of Bombay a large field from which to select candidates, and who have Boards
for examination in Oriental languages at their command. This plan would not only insure
efficient interpreters, but it would relieve Her Majesty's officers from the disagreeable
accusation now sometimes made against them of destroying innocent vessels on the sole
evidence of illiterate interpreters chosen and selected by themselves.
4. I do not propose establishing an organized body of interpreters, but merely that
men should be found, examined, and supplied as they may be wanted upon application to
the Secretary in the Marine Department of the Bombay Government.
5. Interpreters are now paid as able seamen; it would be advisable, in order to insure
respectable and intelligent men, to raise the pay to that of a first-class petty officer, viz.,
Is. 1 Id!, per day, or perhaps to the rupee {2s.).
6. Should their Lordships think proper, I beg that the Secretary of State for India
may be moved to give the necessary instructions in this matter.
I have, &c.
(Signed) L. G. HEATH.
Inclosure 2 in No. 12.
Dr. Kirk to the Chief Secretary to Government, Bombay.
Sir, Zanzibar, May 16, 1869.
WITH reference to the communications marginally noted,* I have the honour to
report, for the information of the Right H n ourable the Governor in Council, that
36 negroes have been delivered over to me by Abbas-bin-Abdulla, Master of His
Highness' ship " Prince of Wales."
I have carefully examined these men individually in their own langurge, and find that
they are all free and thankful to return to this country, where they can work as sailors
and are among their friends.
His Highness Seyed Majid desires me to express his thanks to the Bombay Govern
ment for having sent back those who were no slaves, and whose position, if treated as such,
might be worse than it is here.
Such a mingling of slaves and free men as has taken place in this instance, which is
certainly no exception, could only occur through inefficient or dishonest interpreting, and
I regret to say that, as a class, those who embark in our cruizers as interpreters are an
illiterate and worthless set.
At this moment I am engaged with the trial of dhows destroyed on suspicion by Her
Majesty's ship f ' Nymphe," and I regret to say that the interpreter, on whose authority
many of these dhows have been burned, is a man who cannot read Arabic or Suakeli,
and who, therefore, cannot explain to the officers the nature of the papers under which
the dhow is sailing.
The interpreter who was on board Her Majesty's ship " Star when most of the
thirtv-six free men now sent back were taken is a man equally incompetent.
I have, &c.
(Signed) JOHN KIRK.
* Government Resolution, Political Department, No. 469, FebruaryJ,2; Government Resolution, No. 787,
March 10; the Commissioner of Police to the Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. , Zanzibar, No. 591, March 24, 1869.
[410J K

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' [‎83r] (33/50), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B84, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 February 2020]

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