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Two Ships


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This case brought before the British Vice Admiralty Court involved two Portuguese slave ships: the sloop São Joaquim and the schooner São Domingo. Enslaved Africans likely embarked these slave ships at either the Great or Little Scarcies Rivers, Sierra Leone.

At the trial, it was revelead that the São Joaquim was overset by a tornado and sank with the loss of an unspecified number of slaves. This sloop of ten tons burthen, in the command of Francisco Correa Gomez, had taken on board six men, eight women and eight children as slaves and had a crew of “ten seamen & six boys all on wages, natives of Bissao & Geba.” Gomez explained how he had been “born at Bissao” of “free African parents” and was a “subject of Portugal.” He had “bought the slaves of the Mandingoes & Timmaneys” and four had been purchased “at Port Logo, ten at Rokelle, & the remainder at the Scarcies.”

Those who survived from the São Joaquim were listed in the Register of Liberated Africans together with those released from the São Domingo. Five women and six children were on board when it was intercepted. The São Domingo was navigated by Antonio Gomez, acting master, although Francisco Gomez explained that he was master of the small schooner. In his testimony to the Court, he explained how the “slaves were bought in the Scarcies.”

On 11 November 1808, HMS Derwent, under the command of Frederick Parker, captured the vessel and brought them into the Vice Admiralty Court. Evidence presented before the Vice Admiralty Court indicates that 33 Africans had originally been embarked on the two vessels and that nineteen had died by the time the court proceedings were completed. Around 24 and 26 November 1808, the British Vice Admiralty Court condemned these vessels and recorded 14 people from both vessels into a single register.

Summary paragraphs quoted from: Suzanne Schwarz, "Reconstructing the Life Histories of Liberated Africans: Sierra Leone in the Early Nineteenth Century," History in Africa, 39 (2012): 175-207.

Trial Summary

Trial Summary



Register Statistics

Additional Resources

Attempts were being made by officials on the ground in Sierra Leone to implement, or at least report according to, the terms of the British Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807, which stipulated that Liberated Africans could be apprenticed and males enlisted into “His Majesty’s Land or Sea Service, as Soldiers, Seamen or Marines.” In December 1808, Thompson reported that HMS Derwent “has received sundry Natives of Africa for His Majesty’s Naval Service.” Tom and Thong, recaptives 64 and 67, were both aged eight when they were allocated to this vessel. In the Register of Liberated Africans, it was recorded that Jack, a boy of nine, was apprenticed to Priscilla Gordon on 30 June for eight years, although in December 1808 the “Annual Report of the Natives of Africa” indicated that he had been entered on board HMS Derwent.

Primary sources not yet available online include collections from:

Hull History Center (HHC), Proceedings Relating to Slaves in Various Ships (Marie Paul, Sao Joaquim, Sao Domingo, Two Cousins, Rapid, Africaan, Penel), seized by HMS Derwent, Commander Frederick Parker, 17 September 1808-11 August 1809.

HHC, U DTH/1/23, Annual Report of Natives of Africa received, enlisted, entered, apprenticed, or otherwise disposed of by the Governor of His Majesty’s Colony of Sierra Leone, with Observations thereupon, in pursuance of His Majesty’s Order in Council of March 16th, 1808 in: Drafts of despatches to Lord Castlereagh from Thomas Perronet Thompson 27 July 1808-4 February 1810.