216 : London views of the West African slave trade in the 1840s

The British Royal Navy had warships which sailed along the Atlantic coast of Africa from the 1830s’ abolition of slavery in the British Empire. Usually based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, the people they rescued from slave ships bound for Brazil and the Americas were ‘recaptives’ and were disembarked in Sierra Leone and sometimes on the island of St Helena. The slave ships were put up for auction in Freetown.

The mechanism and weakness of the system can be seen in two Old Bailey court cases, in 1843 and 1845. Pedro de Zulueta was charged with dealing and trading in slaves, having equipped the Augusta. He was found not guilty. Old Baily reference t18431023-2895, 23 October 1843. Testifying on behalf of the Royal Navy was Captain Henry Worsley Hill, later governor of the Gold Coast (Ghana).

In January 1845 Thomas Jennings of the same ship was charged with kidnapping: and again a not guilty verdict was recorded. The file is t18450616-1264 of 16 January 1845.

The reports show that some captured slave ships were purchased at auction for use in further slaving voyages.

http://www.oldbaileyonline.org deserves close attention.


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