Africans Liberated from a Slave Ship, Jamaica, 1857
The Illustrated London News (June 20, 1857), vol. 30 p. 595.
Slaves at Fort Augusta, shows a group of liberated Africans, wearing tin or wood tags around their necks. British officials placed these tags when the Africans were landed for registration and administrative purposes. This is one of a group of five illustrations that accompany a letter to the editor describing the capture by the British Navy of a slave ship, the Zeldina, blown off course near the coast of Cuba. Dated Kingston, Jamaica, May 11, 1857, the letter includes excerpts from two Jamaican newspapers; these provide details on the capture and the condition of the Africans on board. The engravings shown here were made from photographs sent by the writer to the Illustrated London News. In brief, these accounts relate how in April a British naval vessel captured the slave ship and brought it to Port Royal. On board were the 370 survivors of the approximately 500 Africans who had been boarded in Cabinda (Angola) approximately 46 days earlier. A contemporary newspaper describes their condition as follows: The poor captives were in a wretched condition--all of them naked; and the greater part seemed to have been half starved. They were packed closely together, and covered with dirt and vermin . . . . The slave-schooner had two decks and between them the captives were packed in such a manner that they had scarcely room to move. During each day of the voyage they sat in a painful posture, 18 inches only being allowed for each to turn in . . . in a deck room of 30 feet in length . . . [they were] brought up in platoons once every day to get a small portion of fresh air . . (ILN, pp. 595-596). Thanks to Sharla Fett for identifying the tags and to David Eltis for providing the name of the slave ship. Illustrations of archaeologically recovered tags on St. Helena and more details are discussed by Helen MacQuarrie, in A. Pearson et al, Infernal Traffic: Excavation of a Liberated African Graveyard in Rupertís Valley, St. Helena (Council for British Archaeology, Research Report 169; York, England, 2011), pp. 100-102. See also image reference iln 595e.
Metadata is available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International