Capture of a Slave Ship, African Coast, 1859

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This record was last updated on 21 Feb 2016

Image Reference

The Illustrated London News (April 28, 1860), vol. 36, p. 409 (bottom).

Caption, "Capture of a Large Slave-Ship by the H.M.S. 'Pluto'." Shows a British naval vessel of the West African squadron capturing a "large barque" off an unnamed section of the west coast of Africa. The capture took place on Nov. 30, 1859. There were 847 slaves on board, "the largest number of slaves ever taken in one vessel. . . . On seeing the naval officers look down the main hatch, the liberated slaves sent up a most hearty cheer, which can never be forgotten by those who heard it" (p. 410). Although not mentioned in the ILN article, the captured slave ship was, in fact, the "Orion," from New York. It took on slaves at Cabinda, went to St. Helena, and from there the Africans were probably trans-shipped to the British Americas as "apprentices." (We thank David Eltis for this information.) For a detailed and informative account of another British ship in the West African squadron which deposited its "prizes" in St. Helena, see A. Pearson, Waterwitch: a warship, its voyage and its crew in the era of anti-slavery (Atlantic Studies, vol. 13 [2016], pp., 99