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Black Poor and White PhilanthropistsLondon's Blacks and the Foundation of the Sierra Leone Settlement 1786–1791$

Stephen J. Braidwood

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780853233770

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317293

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(p.279) Appendices

(p.279) Appendices

Source:
Black Poor and White Philanthropists
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press

Appendix 1. Movements of the ships of the black poor expedition, 1786–1787.

It is unfortunately impossible to give an exact account of the movements of the ships which took the Black Poor to Sierra Leone. The ‘Atlantic’, the ‘Belisarius’ and the ‘Vernon’ were not naval vessels and no logs from them appear to have survived. However, the following account, based chiefly on incidental information in the records of the Admiralty and Treasury departments, provides an outline of their movements. Preparation of the ‘Vernon’ for the expedition is recorded between October and December 1786, but no statement of its location before 11 January 1787 has been traced.

Date

Location

1786

24 October

‘Atlantic’ and ‘Belisarius’ at Gravesend, but the Committee suggests that the Black Poor should embark at Blackwall.

22 November

‘Atlantic’ and ‘Belisarius’ at Deptford, at least until 24 November.

2 December

‘Atlantic’ and ‘Belisarius’ at The Hope, near Gravesend.

1787

1 January

‘Atlantic’ and ‘Belisarius’ obtain supplies from Deptford and Woolwich.

11 January

‘Atlantic’ and 〉‘Belisarius’ ordered to sail to Spithead. (The order had been issued by 8 January, but the ships did not sail until 10 or 11 January at the earliest). ‘Vernon’ at Gravesend.

18 January

‘Atlantic’ and ‘Belisarius’ join the ‘Nautilus’ at the Mother Bank, Spithead.

22 January

‘Vernon’ ordered to sail to Spithead.

8 February

‘Vernon’ joins the other ships at Spithead.

23 February

All four ships sail from Spithead.

27 February

The ships having been separated in gales, ‘Atlantic’ and ‘Belisarius’ make for Plymouth.

1 March

‘Nautilus’ reaches Torbay and finds ‘Vernon’ there.

9 March

‘Nautilus’ and ‘Vernon’ sail for Plymouth, but turn back because of gales.

15 March

‘Nautilus’ and ‘Vernon’ again sail for Plymouth.

18 March

All four ships together again at Plymouth.

9 April

The fleet sails again for Sierra Leone.

21 April

Tenerife

10 May

Sierra Leone

(p.280) Appendix 2. saints and prostitutes.

Of the many rumours surrounding the Sierra Leone expedition of 1786-1787, the one which has received the greatest attention from historians concerns the identity of the white women passengers on board the ships. The Sierra Leone Company, in its Report for 1791, described these passengers as ‘chiefly women of the lowest sort, in ill health, and of bad character’.1 The Company, however, was concerned to demonstrate that the failure of the Province of Freedom was due to the character of the settlers, and it is therefore wise to treat this statement with some caution. In 1794 Wadström explicitly described the women as ‘chiefly strumpets’, but he shared the same general motive as the Company, and in addition seems to have allied himself with Mrs Falconbridge, since like her he had a grievance against the Company's Board of Directors.2 It was Mrs Falconbridge who was the originator of the ‘prostitutes story’. In her book, also published in 1794, she reported an encounter three years earlier with seven white women at Sierra Leone. The women were ‘decrepid with disease, and … disguised with filth and dirt’, so that at first she hardly recognised them as white. One of them told her that most of the women who came out had been London prostitutes, and went on to allege that

men were employed to collect and conduct them to Wapping, where they were intoxicated with liquor, then inveigled on board of ship, and married to Black men, whom they had never seen before; that the morning after she was married, she really did not remember a (p.281) syllable of what had happened over night, and when informed, was obliged to inquire who was her husband? After this, to the time of their sailing, they were amused and buoyed up by a prodigality of fair promises, and great expectations which awaited them in the country they were going to …3

Mrs Falconbridge was a far from reliable witness, but her account was accepted without question by later writers. She seemed to think that the Government was primarily responsible for the operation (although she claimed that she herself could hardly believe the story); but other writers extended the blame to the group of philanthropists and abolitionists who were correctly identified as the promoters of the Sierra Leone venture. Thus J.J. Crooks wrote: ‘that it was done must ever remain a blot, not only on the Government of the day that permitted it, but on the memory of those men whose names will ever stand prominent in history as the leaders of one of the noblest movements ever made by man for his fellow-men’.4

Is there in fact any evidence to support Mrs Falconbridge's story? One of the complaints made by Vassa against Irwin was that he had let ‘unauthorised’ passengers on board the ships. In his book, Vassa quoted an order from the Navy Commissioners, instructing him to prevent ‘any white persons going, who are not intended to have the indulgence of being carried thither [to Sierra Leone]’.5 Edwards suggests that these unauthorised passengers may have included the prostitutes.6

There are two references to this issue in Government records. On 30 December 1786, the Navy Commissioners wrote to both Irwin and Vassa as follows:

We desire you will not permit any Persons that have permission from the Comittee [sic] for Black Poor to proceed to Sierra Leona, to be received on board the Transports, but such as are mentioned in their Minutes and approved by us, and who produce Certificates from them subseauent to this date.7

It was only a few weeks since the Government had been exerting the strongest possible pressure to persuade the Black Poor to board the ships; it is therefore strange to see in the margin against these instructions the entry: ‘Blacks not to be received on board the Transports’.8 At a meeting of the Committee held on 16 January 1787, Samuel Hoare reported the outcome of a ‘conference’ (p.282) between himself and Pitt, the leader of the Government. Pitt had consented to the embarkation of ‘the white Persons mentioned in the Minutes of the last Committee’; but he had also expressed the hope that ‘no more may be necessary for the security of the Settlement’. The Committee accordingly resolved that no more white people should be allowed to embark.9

These references seem to be disjointed and even contradictory, and leave the problem of the identity of the unauthorised passengers unsolved. However, I venture a hypothesis which makes sense of the evidence we have. Pitt had referred to the white persons ‘mentioned in the Minutes of the last Committee’, and had noted that they were thought necessary ‘for the security of the Settlement’. Prostitutes can hardly have been considered necessary for the security of the settlement, but one group of people had been taken on specifically to assist in its safe establishment – the white artisans. The last Committee minutes preserved in the Treasury records before the date of Hoare's conference with Pitt are for 1 December 1786. These mention the Committee's consent to the applications of two white artisans who wished to go to Sierra Leone with the Black Poor. (One, Mr Gesau, wanted to take his wife with him).10 Since not all the Committee's minutes have survived, we cannot be sure that this was the meeting referred to by Pitt, but the fact that it did include discussion of white passengers makes this a reasonable assumption.11 While the Government was prepared to pay for provisions and passages to Africa for distressed black loyalists, it may well have been more reluctant to do the same for skilled artisans, who had no claim on Government funds. In the recruitment of these artisans, the Committee had been assisted by Sharp, Lettsom and (in at least one case) Irwin.12 Irwin may also have been influenced by Smeathman's original idea of a multi-racial settlement. He seems to have been willing to welcome the artisans on board ship, despite the Navy Commissioners' order that only those approved of by them should be allowed on board. The unauthorised passengers may thus have been artisans recruited by the Committee, but whom the Government had not yet specifically agreed to pay for. Vassa, on the other hand, had the job of representing the Government's views, and of making sure that Irwin did not waste public money. His opposition to letting the artisans (or any other whites) on board was thus not as strange as it may seem at first sight.

This hypothesis admittedly does not account for the mysterious reference to (p.283) ‘Blacks not to be received on board the Transports’. It is possible that this may have been a clerical error. Marginal headings were normally inserted against the copies of out-letters kept by the Navy Commissioners. The letter in question was a general direction, which did not mention the colour of the unauthorised passengers, although the white artisans may have been in mind. Since it did mention the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, the clerk may have assumed that it referred to blacks.

Some support for the hypothesis may be detected in a later newspaper item. In October 1789, the author of a discouraging report on the Province of Freedom criticised the Government for having invited English husbandmen and manufacturers to embark, with a free passage.13 The reply to the report, made a fortnight later, denied this claim, arguing that:

This was so far from having been the case, that Government would not consent to give a passage to any white poor, except about 60 women married to Negroes and some persons in office, as the Agent-Conductor and his family, the Chaplain, the Surgeons, the Land-Surveyor and a few others.14

If the writer was correct, Government concern about unauthorised passengers was directed not at the white women, who were recognised as wives, but at other whites. In January 1787, Irwin replied to the charge that he had allowed unauthorised passengers on the ships, stating that – ‘I have but one passenger on board’.15 This seems to be confirmed by the lists of those on board, in which only one of the whites, Thomas Newburn (or Mewboum), was described as a ‘Passenger’.16 All in all, it seems that the unauthorised passengers complained of by Vassa are much more likely to have been white artisans than prostitutes.

If Mrs Falconbridge's story gains no support from the references to unauthorised passengers, what can we say about it as it stands? The sheer unlikelihood of the story has been pointed out by several writers of differing viewpoints. Christopher Fyfe comments that: ‘Nothing is less likely than that Sharp, rabidly puritanical, would have agreed to what he must have conceived the contamination of a settlement he intended to be founded on strict Christian principles’.17 But unfortunately the story has continued to appear in later works (either in its entirety or at least by implication), and for this reason we are forced to examine it again here.18

(p.284) While Evangelicals like Sharp would have been horrified at the idea of smuggling prostitutes on board the ships, the Government had no motive for launching such an operation. There were reckoned to be many thousands of prostitutes in London in the late eighteenth century, so that the removal of about seventy would have made scant difference.19 The plan would have brought no benefit, and would have risked surrounding the Government with scandal if revealed. To discover, intoxicate and inveigle on board ship seventy prostitutes would have been an operation of some magnitude, which it is doubtful if either the Committee or the Government had the means of effecting in secrecy. Even if the women had been ‘inveigled’ on board, it is unlikely that they could have been kept there against their will from late 1786 or early 1787 until the final sailing in April. Around 21 of the 51 adult females (white and black) on board the ships in November 1786 were no longer on board when the second lists were drawn up in February 1787.20 Although some may have died in the outbreak of fever, it is likely that others had changed their minds and gone back on shore. Other white women, with their black husbands, joined the ships in the interval between November and February, a pattern which corresponds to the gradual embarkation of the blacks as a whole over the same period.21 There is no indication of a sudden large influx of women at any stage.

Mrs Falconbridge's story also contains some items of information which are at the least doubtful. It implies that the women were embarked at Wapping. There is no record that the ships taking the Black Poor ever anchored at Wapping, although they may have done so at Blackwall, not far away. (On the other hand, Wapping was known as a haunt of prostitutes).22 The story also gives the number of the women as over 100. In fact there were only 70 white women on board the ships in mid-February (excluding children and five wives of white artisans), and fewer than this may finally have sailed.23 Mrs Falconbridge includes a quotation from the woman who was the source of her story, which runs as follows: ‘Thus … to the disgrace of my mother country, upwards of one hundred unfortunate women, were seduced from England to practice their iniquities more brutishly in this horrid country’.24 The language and the sentiments expressed, the description of prostitution as practising iniquity, and the implausible suggestion that the women had continued to act as prostitutes at Sierra Leone, all combine to make this distinctly unconvincing (p.285) as a supposedly direct quote from an ex-prostitute.

With the exception of the references in the Sierra Leone Company's Report and in Wadström's Essay, which have already been considered, no support for the story can be found in the records. Vassa would certainly have known about the prostitutes, since he was on board the ships. Yet he never hints that the unauthorised passengers he complained of were prostitutes, even though this would have been the perfect way of discrediting the expedition's white leaders, which for a time he was much concerned to do.

As with some of the newspaper rumours surrounding the Black Poor expedition, it is not only doubts about the reliability of the source and the lack of any hard supporting evidence which leads one to question the story. Again there is positive evidence to the contrary. Eight of the white women appear to have had ‘black’ (presumably mixed race) children, and so must have been associated with the blacks for at least nine months.25 Others had also been involved with the Sierra Leone scheme for some time, since some appear in the list of those who had received the bounty from Government, and at least 19 had signed the Agreement with Joseph Irwin.26 Some 32 of the 70 white women on board the ships in February 1787 fall into one or more of the above categories, and are thus extremely difficult to fit into Mrs Falconbridge's story. Quite apart from Government records, we also have the testimony of other witnesses who were closer to the events of 1786–1787 than Mrs Falconbridge and who plainly state that the women were wives of the Black Poor. Lettsom described them as ‘intermarried with the black men’.27 The newspapers were well aware of the presence of white women on board the ships, yet contain no hint of the prostitutes story. In November 1786, The General Advertiser reported simply that: ‘Several of the black men have white wives and families’.28

In conclusion, we ought first to note the possibility that some of the women taken as wives by blacks in the poorer quarters of London may once have been prostitutes. It is possible too – perhaps even likely – that not all unions between black and white were legal marriages. This may be the explanation of the seven white women on board the ships in February 1787 who were described as ‘Wanting to be married’.29 A modern writer, Richard West, comments in similar vein:

It is likely that some of these women had once been prostitutes. It (p.286) is likely that four years later, now kicking themselves for coming to Africa, the survivors would claim that they had been kidnapped. It is likely that these survivors, their tempers raw from fever and hunger and heat, should accuse each other of having once been ‘that description of persons who walk the streets of London’.30

All this, however, is very far from Mrs Falconbridge's story that over 100 prostitutes were collected, intoxicated and inveigled on board the transports. Unless new evidence comes to light, the ‘prostitutes story’ barely merits a mention in future histories.

Notes to Appendix 2

(1.) Sierra Leone Company, Substance of the Report of the Court of Directors of the Sierra Leone Company to the General Court, 1791, 3.

(2.) C.B. Wadstrom, An Essay on Colonization, particularly applied to the Western Coast of Africa, 2 parts, 1794, 2: 220; cf. chap. 5 above, n. 5.

(3.) A.M. Falconbridge, Narrative of Two Voyages to the River Sierra Leone, during the Years 1791-2-3, 1794, second edition 1802, 64-5.

(4.) J.J. Crooks, A History of the Colony of Sierra Leone, Western Africa, 1903, 28.

(5.) Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, 2 vols., 1789, 2: 232–4 (on 233), 236. I have been unable to trace the original of this order, for which Vassa gives the date of 16.1.1787.

(6.) Paul Edwards, ed., Equiano's Travels, His Autobiography, 1967, appendix 1, 161.

(7.) PRO Adm 106/2347, Navy Commissioners to Irwin and Vassa, 30.12.1786.

(9.) PRO T1/641/140, Proceedings of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, 16.1.1787.

(10.) PRO T1/638, Proceedings of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, 1.12.1786.

(11.) If this assumption is correct, the Committee would not have met between 1 December 1786 and 16 January 1787. During the early months of the Committee's existence, this would have been an exceptionally long period without a meeting; but by late 1786 the Committee was meeting much less frequently, since the Government (and particularly the Navy Commissioners) were increasingly taking over the practical organisation of the expedition. The meeting on 1 December had been adjourned ‘sine die’. On 17 January The London Chronicle reported that Hoare had had an interview (p.287) with Pitt, ‘when he laid before him the proceedings of the Committee from their establishment, at which the Minister expressed his satisfaction’: London Chronicle, from Tuesday 16 January to Thursday 18 January 1787, section for 17 January, 2a. It is more than improbable that Pitt would have given his approval to an operation like that described by Mrs Falconbridge. Vassa also implied that Hoare, a Quaker and a respected City figure, had ‘empowered’ Irwin to take the unauthorised passengers on board: Equiano, Interesting Narrative, 2: 236; cf. the letter written on Vassa's behalf in The Public Advertiser, 14.7.1787. If so, this makes it still more unlikely that they can have been prostitutes.

(12.) Irwin had recommended John Mawley, the schoolmaster with whom he later quarrelled: The Morning Herald, 13.1.1787, 4a. Evidence that the Government's objection to the embarkation of white passengers was based on the cost involved may be detected in incidental references. The Navy Commissioners wrote that extra white passengers were ‘not intended to have the indulgence of being carried’ to Sierra Leone; Vassa complained that Irwin had received them on board ‘at the government expense’: Equiano, Interesting Narrative, 2: 233, 236.

(13.) The Diary, or Woodfall's Register, 15.10.1789, 2c.

(15.) Morning Herald, 13.1.1787, 4a.

(16.) nySheila Lambert, ed., House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, 131 vols, 1975, 67 (1789): 8 ff., ‘List of the Black Poor embarked for Sierra Leona’.

(17.) Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone, 1962, 17.

(18.) See for example James W. St. G. Walker, The Black Loyalists, 1976, 98 and 109n14; C. Duncan Rice, The Rise and Fall of Black Slavery, 1975, 241. Myers considers that ‘the debate surrounding the “Saints versus Prostitutes” remains at an impasse’, although she continues: ‘At the present state of historical research, it appears that the “Saints” theory has the advantage’ (Norma Myers, ‘In search of the invisible: British Black family and community, 1780-1830’, Slavery and Abolition, 13, 1992, 156-80, on 167).

(19.) Cf. Ellen Gibson Wilson, The Loyal Blacks, 1976, 152.

(20.) PRO T1/638, ‘A list of Names of Black Persons embarked on board the Bellisarius Captn Sill, 22nd Nov. 1786’, and ‘List of Names of Black Persons embarked on board the Atlantic Captn Murehead. 22nd Novr 1786’; T1/643/487, encs., lists of those on board the ships (including the ‘Vernon’), 16.2.1787. The inaccuracies in the lists mean that these figures can only be approximate. The women are not distinguished by colour in the November lists, although white women always appear to have been in (p.288) the majority.

(22.) A reference to this can be found in a contemporary cartoon, printed in Peter Marshall, The Anti-Slave Trade Movement in Bristol, 1968, opp. page 5.

(23.) PRO T1/643/487, encs., lists of those on board the ships, 16.2.1787.

(24.) Falconbridge, Narrative of Two Voyages, 65-6.

(25.) PRO T116431487, encs.

(26.) PRO T1/643/487, encs.; T1/638, ‘An Alphabetical list of the Black People who have received the Bounty from Government’, and ‘Agreement between Mr. Jos Irwin and the Black Poor, Dated 6th Oct. 1786’. The latter is admittedly a copy.

(27.) Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late John Coakley Lettsom, 3 vols, 1817, 1: 132.

(28.) The General Advertiser, 25.11.1786, 2c. See too The Diary, or Woodfall'S Register, 15.10.1789, 2c, and 29.10.1789, 4a. The first of these references from The Diary suggests that some blacks had taken white wives ‘in agreement with the advice of its [the Sierra Leone plan's] principal patron’ (probably meaning Granville Sharp).

(29.) PRO T1/643/487, encs. Five of these women were on board the ‘Belisarius’. The other two, on the ‘Vernon’, were described as ‘Two White Women more to be married’. The fact that a few women were waiting to be married casts further doubt on Mrs Falconbridge's story, which implies that the women were married as soon as they had been inveigled on board ship, and while still in a state of intoxication.

(30.) Richard West, Back to Africa, A History of Sierra Leone and Liberia, 1970, 26.

Appendix 3. The Plymouth ‘purge’.

We have seen that disputes on board the ships at Plymouth led to the dismissal of Vassa and the putting ashore of two of the Black Poor, Green and Rose. Ellen Gibson Wilson claims that a wider ‘purge’ of disaffected elements took place at the same time. She writes that 13 blacks and 14 whites were sent ashore along with Vassa, and that another 23, including five whites, left of their own volition.1 This at least makes a change from the more usual accusation, that blacks were kept on board against their will. What evidence is there to support the claim?

In the first place, Cugoano, in criticising the Sierra Leone expedition, wrote: (p.289) ‘others that, in all probability, would have been most useful for them were hindered from going, by means of some disagreeable jealousy of those who were appointed as governors’.2 Cugoano, however, gave no idea of the numbers involved. In what is perhaps the strongest evidence for a purge of a significant number of people, Granville Sharp wrote that ‘disagreements and mutinous behaviour’ at Plymouth had led to the discharge of 24 people, and that 23 had run away.3 But there are difficulties with this account. Although Sharp was in touch with the expedition and with many of London's blacks, he knew nothing of any sizeable purge until some considerable time after the alleged event. In late June 1787, when writing to his brother, he still accepted Fraser's information that Vassa and ‘two or three other discontented persons’ had been left on shore at Plymouth.4 His statement that 24 people had been discharged was based on later written accounts, possibly lists, which, as we shall see, can be interpreted in different ways.5 The figures that Sharp gives do not really make sense. If 47 people had either run away or had been discharged, there must have been at least 17 new recruits to the expedition at Plymouth, to reach Sharp's total of 411 final emigrants.6 Since originally it had not been intended that the ships should call at Plymouth at all, these new recruits would had to have joined on the spur of the moment. But it is very unlikely that anyone would have joined the expedition at this time, since quarrelling and discontent was at its height on board the ships, and the controversy surrounding the venture was beginning to re-appear in the newspapers.

Wilson does not base her account of the purge on Sharp's letter, but rather on Captain Thompson's list of the emigrants, printed in Parliamentary Papers. This is entitled: ‘List of the Black Poor embarked for Sierra Leona’, and against many of the names is a letter which indicates ‘Discharged, Dead, or Run’.7 In view of the list's title, Wilson naturally assumes that the terms ‘Discharged’ and ‘Run’ apply to events at Plymouth. Those discharged include two men of the name of William Green, and Lewis Rose, and we know that ‘Green and Rose’ were put on shore at Plymouth.8 However, the advantages of applying these terms solely to events at Plymouth appear to be outweighed by the difficulties. At the end of the list, Thompson put a short table summarising the figures, and from this it is not at all clear whether he was concerned to distinguish those who had been discharged, died or ran at (p.290) Plymouth from those similarly circumstanced at Sierra Leone.9 If the list of those discharged does apply to a purge at Plymouth, there are some curious omissions, notably that of the central figure in the dispute, Vassa himself. Abraham Elliot Griffith would also have been a prime target for a purge, after the publication of his critical letter in The Public Advertiser; yet he remained on board the ‘Belisarius’ and went to Sierra Leone.10 On the other hand, included among those discharged were several whites, such as the purser of the ‘Belisarius’ and his mate, and three members of Irwin's family (named as John Irwin, Miss Irwin and Miss Betsey Irwin). It seems unlikely that the purser and his mate would have become involved in the quarrel between Vassa and Irwin, or that they would have been discharged just prior to the beginning of a voyage. (They would, of course, have been discharged along with the ‘Belisarius’ at Sierra Leone, and the fact that they had been mentioned in the February lists may have made it necessary to record them in Thompson's list).11 It seems still more unlikely that a group of people purged for their support of Vassa in his quarrel with Irwin should have included three of Irwin's close relatives. In fact we know that John Irwin and at least one of Irwin's daughters did go out to Sierra Leone on the 1787 expedition.12 This in itself is enough to show that some of those described as ‘Discharged’ in Thompson's list were discharged at Sierra Leone, rather than purged at Plymouth.

It is also strange that those who must have been eye-witnesses of the purge left no record of it. It is not mentioned by Captain Thompson, or by the Black Poor themselves in their letters from Sierra Leone. The rumour-mongering press has nothing of the story, though it gave considerable coverage to the controversy surrounding Vassa's dismissal. Nor is it mentioned by Vassa himself, although to have done so would have greatly strengthened his case, by presenting him as the leader of a wider group of people, all of whom had been removed from the ships against their will. In his letter written during the voyage, Fraser attributed the restoration of harmony on board the ships to Vassa's discharge, and the ‘dismission’ of Green and Rose.13 If a larger group of malcontents had been discharged at Plymouth, it is odd that he did not mention this. A further problem concerns the use of the word ‘Discharged’. At Sierra Leone, it may have been applied to those who had asked for and had been granted permission to leave the settlement, as opposed to those who (p.291) simply deserted without so much as a by-your-leave. John Irwin and his sister may have wanted to return to England because they had become ill; white artisans who had bound themselves to stay for four months may also have wished to return early for the same reason.14 Green and Rose were certainly put ashore at Plymouth irrespective of their wishes; but, in the case of others who may have left the ships at around the same time the use of the word ‘Discharged’ is not in itself sufficient to show that they were removed against their will.

In view of the nature of the surviving evidence, any conclusion on the subject of the Plymouth purge can only be highly tentative. We do know, on the one hand, that two people were put on shore at Plymouth in addition to Vassa, and, on the other, that the total number discharged was not as high as 27, as Wilson supposes. It is still possible that a significant number of people may have left the ships at Plymouth; but, if so, it is not clear to what extent they did this under pressure and to what extent of their own free will.

Notes to Appendix 3

(1.) Ellen Gibson Wilson, The Loyal Blacks, 1976, 150-1.

(2.) Ottobah Cugoano, Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, 1787, 140.

(3.) Sharp to Lettsom, 13.10.1788, in Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late John Coakley Lettsom, 3 vols, 1817, 2: 236-48, on 238.

(4.) Prince Hoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp, 1820, 312-3Public Advertiser

(5.) Sharp acknowledged that his information was based on later written accounts. When noting a slight discrepancy in the figures given for the number of those on board the ships in February, he explained that ‘the accounts differ’: Sharp to Lettsom, 13.10.1788, in Pettigrew, Memoirs of Lettsom, 2: 237.

(6.) Ibid. Sharp believed that ‘439 or 441’ people were on board the three transports at Portsmouth (i.e. Spithead) on 20 February 1787. He also wrote that 50 people, ‘it is said’, had died from fever before the ships reached Plymouth, but this figure is doubtful and it is not clear how many deaths had occurred before the February lists were drawn up. For these reasons I have not taken account of deaths from fever, so that 17 is a minimum figure for the number of new recruits needed to make Sharp's figures correct. In order to reconcile the figures in the accounts he was using, Sharp (p.292) himself commented that ‘they must have had some recruits, though they are not mentioned in the lists’: ibid., 238.

(7.) Sheila Lambert, ed., House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, 131 vols, 1975, 67 (1789): 256-9, item no. 10. (Subsequently cited as Parliamentary Papers). It might be thought that a comparison between this list and the number of people on board the ships in February would yield evidence as to whether a substantial number had been discharged in the interim. In fact the date and purpose of Thompson's list are not clear, as discussed shortly; and the unknown number of deaths and desertions makes such an excercise impossible. For the uncertainty as to how many people finally left England for Sierra Leone, see chapter 3 above, n. 128.

(8.) Fraser's letter in The Public Advertiser, 2.7.1787. A third William Green died at Sierra Leone. A Betsey Green and a Susan Rose were also among those discharged.

(9.) Parliamentary PapersHoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp, 328.

(10.) Public Advertiser, 4.4.1787. Though Thompson's list was ‘delivered’ on 30 December 1788, it is not dated; but the fact that Vassa is not included may indicate that no names had been recorded before the date of his dismissal, on 24 March 1787. The table at the end refers to the number ‘Remaining at the Time His Majesty's Sloop Nautilus left Sierra Leona’, which was on 16 September 1787.

(11.) PRO T1/643/487, enc., list of those on board the ‘Belisarius’, 16.2.1787.

(12.) Memoirs of Lettsomin Hoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp, 318.

(13.) Public Advertiser, 2.7.1787.

(14.) Lettsom to Dr. Cuming, 20.10.1787, in Pettigrew, Memoirs of Lettsom, 1: 134 (correspondence section).

Notes:

(1.) Sierra Leone Company, Substance of the Report of the Court of Directors of the Sierra Leone Company to the General Court, 1791, 3.

(1.) Ellen Gibson Wilson, The Loyal Blacks, 1976, 150-1.

(2.) C.B. Wadstrom, An Essay on Colonization, particularly applied to the Western Coast of Africa, 2 parts, 1794, 2: 220; cf. chap. 5 above, n. 5.

(2.) Ottobah Cugoano, Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, 1787, 140.

(3.) A.M. Falconbridge, Narrative of Two Voyages to the River Sierra Leone, during the Years 1791-2-3, 1794, second edition 1802, 64-5.

(3.) Sharp to Lettsom, 13.10.1788, in Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late John Coakley Lettsom, 3 vols, 1817, 2: 236-48, on 238.

(4.) J.J. Crooks, A History of the Colony of Sierra Leone, Western Africa, 1903, 28.

(4.) Prince Hoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp, 1820, 312-3Public Advertiser

(5.) Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, 2 vols., 1789, 2: 232–4 (on 233), 236. I have been unable to trace the original of this order, for which Vassa gives the date of 16.1.1787.

(5.) Sharp acknowledged that his information was based on later written accounts. When noting a slight discrepancy in the figures given for the number of those on board the ships in February, he explained that ‘the accounts differ’: Sharp to Lettsom, 13.10.1788, in Pettigrew, Memoirs of Lettsom, 2: 237.

(6.) Paul Edwards, ed., Equiano's Travels, His Autobiography, 1967, appendix 1, 161.

(6.) Ibid. Sharp believed that ‘439 or 441’ people were on board the three transports at Portsmouth (i.e. Spithead) on 20 February 1787. He also wrote that 50 people, ‘it is said’, had died from fever before the ships reached Plymouth, but this figure is doubtful and it is not clear how many deaths had occurred before the February lists were drawn up. For these reasons I have not taken account of deaths from fever, so that 17 is a minimum figure for the number of new recruits needed to make Sharp's figures correct. In order to reconcile the figures in the accounts he was using, Sharp (p.292) himself commented that ‘they must have had some recruits, though they are not mentioned in the lists’: ibid., 238.

(7.) PRO Adm 106/2347, Navy Commissioners to Irwin and Vassa, 30.12.1786.

(7.) Sheila Lambert, ed., House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, 131 vols, 1975, 67 (1789): 256-9, item no. 10. (Subsequently cited as Parliamentary Papers). It might be thought that a comparison between this list and the number of people on board the ships in February would yield evidence as to whether a substantial number had been discharged in the interim. In fact the date and purpose of Thompson's list are not clear, as discussed shortly; and the unknown number of deaths and desertions makes such an excercise impossible. For the uncertainty as to how many people finally left England for Sierra Leone, see chapter 3 above, n. 128.

(8.) Fraser's letter in The Public Advertiser, 2.7.1787. A third William Green died at Sierra Leone. A Betsey Green and a Susan Rose were also among those discharged.

(9.) PRO T1/641/140, Proceedings of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, 16.1.1787.

(9.) Parliamentary PapersHoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp, 328.

(10.) PRO T1/638, Proceedings of the Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor, 1.12.1786.

(10.) Public Advertiser, 4.4.1787. Though Thompson's list was ‘delivered’ on 30 December 1788, it is not dated; but the fact that Vassa is not included may indicate that no names had been recorded before the date of his dismissal, on 24 March 1787. The table at the end refers to the number ‘Remaining at the Time His Majesty's Sloop Nautilus left Sierra Leona’, which was on 16 September 1787.

(11.) If this assumption is correct, the Committee would not have met between 1 December 1786 and 16 January 1787. During the early months of the Committee's existence, this would have been an exceptionally long period without a meeting; but by late 1786 the Committee was meeting much less frequently, since the Government (and particularly the Navy Commissioners) were increasingly taking over the practical organisation of the expedition. The meeting on 1 December had been adjourned ‘sine die’. On 17 January The London Chronicle reported that Hoare had had an interview (p.287) with Pitt, ‘when he laid before him the proceedings of the Committee from their establishment, at which the Minister expressed his satisfaction’: London Chronicle, from Tuesday 16 January to Thursday 18 January 1787, section for 17 January, 2a. It is more than improbable that Pitt would have given his approval to an operation like that described by Mrs Falconbridge. Vassa also implied that Hoare, a Quaker and a respected City figure, had ‘empowered’ Irwin to take the unauthorised passengers on board: Equiano, Interesting Narrative, 2: 236; cf. the letter written on Vassa's behalf in The Public Advertiser, 14.7.1787. If so, this makes it still more unlikely that they can have been prostitutes.

(11.) PRO T1/643/487, enc., list of those on board the ‘Belisarius’, 16.2.1787.

(12.) Irwin had recommended John Mawley, the schoolmaster with whom he later quarrelled: The Morning Herald, 13.1.1787, 4a. Evidence that the Government's objection to the embarkation of white passengers was based on the cost involved may be detected in incidental references. The Navy Commissioners wrote that extra white passengers were ‘not intended to have the indulgence of being carried’ to Sierra Leone; Vassa complained that Irwin had received them on board ‘at the government expense’: Equiano, Interesting Narrative, 2: 233, 236.

(12.) Memoirs of Lettsomin Hoare, Memoirs of Granville Sharp, 318.

(13.) The Diary, or Woodfall's Register, 15.10.1789, 2c.

(13.) Public Advertiser, 2.7.1787.

(14.) Lettsom to Dr. Cuming, 20.10.1787, in Pettigrew, Memoirs of Lettsom, 1: 134 (correspondence section).

(15.) Morning Herald, 13.1.1787, 4a.

(16.) nySheila Lambert, ed., House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, 131 vols, 1975, 67 (1789): 8 ff., ‘List of the Black Poor embarked for Sierra Leona’.

(17.) Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone, 1962, 17.

(18.) See for example James W. St. G. Walker, The Black Loyalists, 1976, 98 and 109n14; C. Duncan Rice, The Rise and Fall of Black Slavery, 1975, 241. Myers considers that ‘the debate surrounding the “Saints versus Prostitutes” remains at an impasse’, although she continues: ‘At the present state of historical research, it appears that the “Saints” theory has the advantage’ (Norma Myers, ‘In search of the invisible: British Black family and community, 1780-1830’, Slavery and Abolition, 13, 1992, 156-80, on 167).

(19.) Cf. Ellen Gibson Wilson, The Loyal Blacks, 1976, 152.

(20.) PRO T1/638, ‘A list of Names of Black Persons embarked on board the Bellisarius Captn Sill, 22nd Nov. 1786’, and ‘List of Names of Black Persons embarked on board the Atlantic Captn Murehead. 22nd Novr 1786’; T1/643/487, encs., lists of those on board the ships (including the ‘Vernon’), 16.2.1787. The inaccuracies in the lists mean that these figures can only be approximate. The women are not distinguished by colour in the November lists, although white women always appear to have been in (p.288) the majority.

(22.) A reference to this can be found in a contemporary cartoon, printed in Peter Marshall, The Anti-Slave Trade Movement in Bristol, 1968, opp. page 5.

(23.) PRO T1/643/487, encs., lists of those on board the ships, 16.2.1787.

(24.) Falconbridge, Narrative of Two Voyages, 65-6.

(25.) PRO T116431487, encs.

(26.) PRO T1/643/487, encs.; T1/638, ‘An Alphabetical list of the Black People who have received the Bounty from Government’, and ‘Agreement between Mr. Jos Irwin and the Black Poor, Dated 6th Oct. 1786’. The latter is admittedly a copy.

(27.) Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the late John Coakley Lettsom, 3 vols, 1817, 1: 132.

(28.) The General Advertiser, 25.11.1786, 2c. See too The Diary, or Woodfall'S Register, 15.10.1789, 2c, and 29.10.1789, 4a. The first of these references from The Diary suggests that some blacks had taken white wives ‘in agreement with the advice of its [the Sierra Leone plan's] principal patron’ (probably meaning Granville Sharp).

(29.) PRO T1/643/487, encs. Five of these women were on board the ‘Belisarius’. The other two, on the ‘Vernon’, were described as ‘Two White Women more to be married’. The fact that a few women were waiting to be married casts further doubt on Mrs Falconbridge's story, which implies that the women were married as soon as they had been inveigled on board ship, and while still in a state of intoxication.

(30.) Richard West, Back to Africa, A History of Sierra Leone and Liberia, 1970, 26.