Rescued Africans on Deck of British Naval Vessel, 1845

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This record was last updated on 14 Jun 2016

Image Reference

Album of Lt. Meynell's water colors (MEY/2), National Maritime Museum, London (neg. A1817)

Pencil drawing by Lt. Francis Meynell, shows Africans on top deck of the Albatross, a British naval vessel. From Nov. 1844 to May 1845, Meynell was mate on the Albatross, which had captured the Brazilian slaving vessel, Albanez, off the mouth of the Coanza (Cuanza/Quanza) River (present-day Angola) on February 29, 1845. The drawing is apparently of the Albatross deck after the Africans had been removed from the Albanez. In a dispatch, dated March 16, 1845, sent by Reginald Yorke, captain of the Albatross, to the British naval office, Yorke identifies the captured brig as the Albanez, and describes how it was captured; 150 Africans were on board, he reports, “the rest of her cargo, making a total of 737 slaves were moored alongside in rafts made of the stalks of palm leaves, ready to be embarked, which rafts were also loaded with casks of water” (FO 84/610, ff. 217-218, The National Archives [London]). The captured ship was provisioned and sent to Sierra Leone under command of one of the officers of the Albatross. However, a document from the Vice-Admiralty Court of Sierra Leone notes that 705 slaves were on board the Albanez when captured and that 148 died between the time of capture and adjudication by the court in Sierra Leone; thus of the contingent of 705 who survived the middle passage (others died en route), 557 were ultimately emancipated in Sierra Leone (Irish University Press Series of British Parliamentary Papers, Slave Trade, vol. 32). (David Eltis and Jelmer Vos brought these documents to our attention). Another account of the capture is published in The Illustrated London News, May 10, 1845 (vol. 6, p. 301). The ILN account is similar and also based on a letter from Yorke, but some details differ, e.g., the ILN account specifies that the slaving ship, unnamed, was captured off the Congo river (sic) and that it had already “embarked 300 [sic] Negroes” out of what would have been a “whole cargo of 743 slaves.” D. Hamilton and R. Blyth, Representing Slavery: Art, Artifacts and Archives in the Collections of the National Maritime Museum (London, 2007), p. 279, err in some details, e.g., the captured vessel was Brazilian, not Spanish; named Albanez, not Albanoz; and was captured in 1845, not 1846. Also, the captive Africans are shown on the top deck of the Albatross, not the Albanez. See also image E029 on this website.