1873 East African slave trade report 
1873 East African slave trade report 

Royal NavyEast Africa slave trade 1872 ◄► 1874

Rear-Admiral Cumming to the Secretary to the Admiralty.

"Glasgow," Gulf of Aden, March 7, 1874.


IN accordance with the directions contained in the Slave Trade Instructions, I have the honour to make the following report, to be laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty: -

During the year 1873 the total number of dhows captured by Her Majesty’s ships under my command, as being employed in the Slave Trade, is twenty-nine; of these three have not been condemned; therefore, the number of the captures for the year may be taken as twenty-six. During the last nine months of 1872 the number was six only; but their Lordships will observe that during 1873 the number of slaves found in the vessel is far less in proportion, the total number being 212 slaves, whereas, during the nine months of 1872, it was 251. In only two cases during 1873 have cargoes of slaves been found - one in July by the "Briton," and another in August by the "Daphne." It appears doubtful, however, in the latter cases if the vessels will be condemned as a capture to the ship, as the Governor of Lamoo appears to have previously detained her on the ground of being employed in the Slave Trade.

The tonnage of the vessels captured is far greater in the aggregate than that of the captures in the last nine months of 1872 - this year being 1,700.98 against 992.48.

The vessels employed on the East Coast of Africa during the year were the "Glasgow," "Wolverene," "Briton," "Daphne," "Vulture," "Nimble," "Magpie," and "Shearwater," of which "Glasgow," "Wolverene," "Nimble," and "Magpie" were ordered temporarily to Zanzibar to enforce, if necessary, the signing of the Treaty of the 5th June, 1873. The regular cruizers have been the "Briton," employed on the coast during the whole year, with the exception of three months, when she was refitting and docking at Mauritius; the services performed by this vessel have been very great, and the untiring zeal of Captain Malcolm, and the officers and men, deserve the highest praise. This ship has captured 11 vessels - all have been condemned; carried 144 slaves; the total tonnage being 869.55.

The "Daphne" has also rendered very valuable service in the suppression of the Slave Trade, having been employed during 1873 on the coast almost without intermission; six of the nine vessels captured by her have been condemned, and one (referred to in paragraph 2) is not yet adjudicated; and the "Vulture" has been employed on the coast since the 5th July, and has made one capture.

The captures, &c., made by the remaining vessels employed will be seen in the accompanying Return.

I would draw their Lordships’ notice to the several points which require attention, with a view to the further prevention of the Slave Trade.

(1.) The boats of Her Majesty's ships are, for several reasons, not at all suited for cruizing on the coast; the men are much exposed; and as a natural consequence are liable to be rendered unserviceable; again, the size of the boats renders it in many cases impossible for the captain and crew of the captured vessel being brought to the port of adjudication; they are necessarily landed, and therefore escape punishment. With a view to remedying these defects, I fully reported on the boat proposed by Captain Sullivan, but I doubt whether schooners similar to those used as pilot boats at Liverpool (which are between 80 and 90 tons burden) would not better meet the requirements. Boats of this description are at present used in the pilot service at Bombay, and are able to remain at sea in any weather, and can work against any monsoon.

I should much like to see three vessels of this class attached to the proposed depôt ship at Zanzibar. They should be on rather a larger scale in order to give more stowage room, and should be armed with two 7-pounder muzzle-loading rifle bronze guns (200 1bs. weight), one forward and one aft; and should also be fitted with two 24-pounder rocket tubes, to ship at stern and stem, and on either broadside.

(2.) A supply of coal is required for the use of the cruizers on the south port of the coast, and Port Mozambique would be the most suitable port, as there would appear little difficulty in obtaining, if there, from the Agent of Victor Régis Ainé, of Marseilles, at about 3l. or 3l. 10s. a ton, if a contract were entered into. The anchorage at Johanna renders that island, during part of the year, unsuitable as a coaling station.

(3.) It would be advantageous if power could be given to our cruizers to search vessels flying the French flag. At present if these vessels are supplied with the "Acte de Francisation" and the "Congé" (dated within the year) no further steps can legally be taken, and these papers, it appears, are not difficult to obtain. The Captain of the "Briton" has reported on this point in his letter of 10th December, 1873.

(4.) The want of properly qualified interpreters has long been felt, and in my letter of 31st December, 1873, suggestions on this point will be found. I believe if sufficient inducements were offered, many officers would render themselves competent interpreters in the Swaheli language, in the same way that Navigating Lieutenant Nankivell of Her Majesty’s ship "Daphne" has already done; and as an inducement to officers to qualify, I would suggest that the same pay should be granted as that given to officers who pass in Hindustanee or Persian.

This report would have been forwarded before, only through some mistake a portion of the mails from the Coast for January were delayed in their transmission to Aden.

Return of Ships furnished with Warrants for the Suppression of the Slave Trade during the Year 1873.
East India Station.

Ship Name and Rank of Commanding Officer No. of Guns. Remarks.
Briton Captain G. J. Malcolm
Captain Lindesay Brine
Daphne Commander R S. Bateman
Commander C. E. Foote
Columbine Commander E. W. Hereford 3  
Kestrel Commander W. R. Boulton 4 This ship has since gone to the China station
Rifleman Commander R. M. Gillson 4  
Shearwater Commander W. J. L. Wharton 4  
Philomel Commander E. St. J. Garforth 3  
Nimble Commander E. C. Best 5  
Nassau Lieutenant F. J. Gray 4  
Vulture Commander Arthur T. Brooke 3  

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