Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Captain Cannon: Transcription of the Iris Logbook - Part 1

For background, read the post "Captain George Cannon: Logbook of the Iris." For an even bigger picture, read the prior 10 part series on the Voyage of the Ship Iris. 

I transcribed the Ship Iris logbook from a photocopy obtained by Hunter Cannon who runs the George Q. Cannon Family website. Much later, I got actual photos of each page from Ken Crook, another descendant of Captain Cannon and fellow Captain Cannon researcher, who I believe had the photo copies taken by people at the BYU Library so that the Library would have them as part of their archives. Ken actually did a wonderful visual plotting of the navigation information in the journal to show the voyage of the Iris that I hope he will share with others, if he hasn't already. Ken also did some of the original research that showed up in my 10 part series of the Voyage of the Ship Iris. Steve Behrendt, a world renowned historian on the slave trade, also had a transcription done, and he had the benefit of familiarity with the terminology and years of studying in the field. We had discussions of publishing in an academic journal, which did not pan out, then discussion of doing a website, which did not pan out, then discussion of doing a self-published book, which did not pan out. As time has passed, those connections have faded and my interest has waned. So a big part of this push to get this on my blog is to try to preserve the research, and who knows, the interest may heat up again. 

My transcription of the logbook follows. 

Sathurday 9th June [1798]:

First Part of this 24 Hours Light Breezeis and Clear. At 8 P.M. Skerry Light House[1] Bore S.S.E. Distd. one Lege [league][2] & Holy Head S.S.W. Distd. about 4 Lgs. - At 10 A.M. 5 vessels in Sight Standing to the N.E. At Meridian[3] was Spoke By a frigate 3 Ships and 2 Cottors [cutters] in Company -  Soposed [supposed] to Bee all Kings vessells[.] Latter Part of this 24 Hours Pleasent and Clear[.] 3 Ships in Company:---

Dist. 87           Course   S.28W.          Diff. Lat. 77                Dep. 44
Lat. in 52-2     Long. in 69                  Diff Long. 6-1

Sunday 10th Ju[ne 1798]:

Pleasent Breezeis and Clear undor Stearingsails &c: -–    Stett. and took in Sail a… – Latter Part of this Day … and Heavey:---    Lattd. Per Observation

Dist. 154         Course   S.26W.          Diff. Lat. 138              Dep. 67
Lat. in. 49..44    Long. in. 107             Diff. Long. 7..48

Monday [June] 11th. [1798]:

First Part of this 24 Hours Light Breezeis and Heavey undor Stering sails &:--    At 2 A.M. Sprung up a Breeze from the Northwd: People Employed in Sundryes Necessarys Carpindor [carpenter] Making Shot Lockers –- Gunnor [gunner] and Crew Making wads Cooppor [cooper] Making Deck Pails:---    Lattd. Per Observation

Dist. 106         Course   S.33W.          Diff. Lat. 89                Dep. 58
Lat. in 48..15   Long. in 14                  Diff Long. 89

Tuesday [June 12, 1798]:

Pleasent Breezeis and Clear weather:-- At 11 P.M. In top Gall. Stearing sails: ---    At 6 A.M. Sett Ditto. – Latter Part of this 24 Hours Steaddy Breezeis and Cloudy weather    Lattd. Per Obd. 46..36 No.

Dist. 143         Course   S.44W           Diff Lat. 103               Dep. 99
Lat. in. 46..36    Long. in. 11..42         Diff. Long. 145

Wedinsday [June 13, 17]98:

Pleasent Breezeis and Cloudy weather Maintop Maststearing sails. & M. T. Gallansail – At 3 P.M. Sett T. G. Stearingsails &:--   At 8 A.M. Sett Lowes Ditto. :-    Lattd. Per Observation  44..31 No.

Dist. 174         Course   S.44W.          Diff. Lat. 125              Dep. 121
Lat. in 44..31     Long. in 174              Diff Long. 14..36

Thursday June 14 [1798]:

Fresh Breezeis and Cloudy W. At 11 P.M. in Main topmast. Stearing sails the Ship is in company Some Distd. astaren:--    No Observation:---

Dist. 182         Course   S.34W.          Diff Lat. 151               Dep. 102
Lat. in. 42..00    Long. in. 139             Diff. Long. 16..55

Friday [June] 15th [1]798:

Pleasent Breezeis and Cloudy Weather:-- Undor Stearingsails &c. At 11 P.M. Saw a Brigg to the: N.Wd. Bound to the Northward:--     Lattd. Obsd. 39..43 No.

Dist. 143         Course   S.16W.          Diff. Lat. 137  Dep. 39
Lat. in. 39..43    Long. in 17..53          Diff Long. 58

Sathurday June 16 [1798]:

Gentle Breezeis and Cloudy weather undor S Gallan sails and Stay sails. At ½ Past 5 P.M. – Hove too for the Martha      Ships Head to the Westard --     Lattd. Obsd. 37..14 North

Dist. 155         Course   S.18W.          Diff Lat. 149               Dep. 48           
Lat. in. 37..14     Long. in. 19..08        Diff. Long. 75

Sunday [June] 17th. [1798]:

First Part Steaddy Breezeis and Clear weather:-- Undor Stay sails royals &:-- At 5 A.M Hove too Head to the N.W. for the Martha to Come up: --     Lattd. Obsd. 35..19 No.

Dist. 120         Course   S.18W.          Diff. Lat. 115              Dep. 37
Lat. in 35..19     Long. in 19..54          Diff Long. 46

Monday Ju[ne] 18 [1798]:

Light Breezeis and Clear undor T. Gallanstearing sa[ils] – At 11 P.M. In Small Sails Squally with rain. Wind Drawing round to the N.Erd:-- At 4 A.M. Sett S… Mast &: Lower Stearing sails and top Gallan: Ditto.  Latter Part of this 24 Hours Pleasent Breezeis and Clear weather.     Latt Obs 33..20 No.

Dist. 136         Course   S.29W.          Diff Lat. 119               Dep. 66
Lat. in. 33..20    Long. in. 21..14         Diff. Long. 80

Tuesday [June] 19th 1798:

Pleasent Breezeis and Heavey weather:-- Undor top Gallanstearing sails &c:-- Middle Part Squally with rain:-- Latter Part Steaddy Breezeis and Heavey weather: The Ship Martah. Hull Down astaren [astern]     Lattd. Obsd. 30..42 No.

Dist. 186         Course   S.32W.          Diff. Lat. 158              Dep. 99
Lat. in 30..42     Long. in 23..11          Diff Long. 117

Wedinsday June 20th [1798]:

Steady Breezeis and Heavey undor T. G. Stearing sails &c:-- Middle Part Squally with rain:-- At Midnight in Stearing sails fore & aft – Latter Part of this Day Dark and Heavey weath[er] with Squalls: --     Lattd. Obsd 27..52 No.

Dist. 178         Course   S.17W.          Diff. Lat. 170              Dep. 52
Lat. in 27..52     Long. in. 24..11         Diff. Long. 60

Thurdsday June 21st. [1798]:

Moderate Breezeis and Squally: -- At 1 A.M. In Mizzen and Staysails at ½ past Sett Ditto. – At Midnight Showers of rain and Squally: -- Latter Part of this Day Dark Cloudy weather with frequent Showers of rain:--     Lattd. Obs 25..22 North

Dist. 166         Course   S25W.           Diff. Lat. 150              Dep. 70
Lat. in 25..22     Long. in 25..29          Diff. Long. 78

Friday June 22d [1798]:

First Part of this 24 Hours Gentle Breezeis and Heavy weather:-- At 5 A.M. Squally with rain:-- At ½ past Sett Ditto. -- People Employed Making Matts[4] Spunyarn Mending Sails &c -- Carpindor and Mate Dressing Stenchens Coopor Making tubbs for the Slaves: -- Latter Part of this D[ay] fresh Breeze and Heavey weather     Obsd. in 22..46 No.

Dist. 171         Course   S.24W.          Diff. Lat. 156              Dep. 69
Lat. in 22..46     Long. in. 76               Diff. Long. 26..45

Satturday June 23d [1798]:

Pleasent: Breezeis and Heavey weather all this 24 Hours: -- All Small Sails Sett to the Best Advantage:-- People Employed as Before: --     Lattd. Obsd. 19..48 No.

Dist. 180         Course   S.8W.                        Diff. Lat. 178              Dep. 25
Lat. in 19..48     Long. in 27..12          Diff. Long. 27

Sunday June 24th. [1798]:

Pleasent Breezeis and Heavey weather all Sails Sett to the Best Advantage:-- At 11 P.M. In top Gallanstaysails and royals At 6 Sett. Ditto.—Latter Part of this Day fresh Breezeis and Heavy weather:--     Lattd. Obsd. 16..58 North

Dist. 173         Course   S.11W.          Diff. Lat. 170              Dep. 33
Lat. in 16..58     Long. in. 27..47         Diff. Long. 35

Monday June 25 [1798]:

First Part Light Breezeis and heavey weather undor T. Gallan Stearing Sails and royals:-- Middle and Latter part Ditto. weather:-- People Employed in Sundry Necessarys:--     Lattd. Obsd. 14..20 No.

Dist. 169         Course   S.29E.           Diff. Lat. 148              Dep. 82
Lat. in 14..20     Long. in 26..22          Diff. Long. 85

Tuesday [June] 26th [1798]:

First Part of this Day:-- Pleasent Breezeis and Heavey weather:-- All Small Sails Sett to the Best Advantage

Dist. 150         Course   S.21E.           Diff. Lat. 140              Dep. 54
Lat. in 12..00     Long. in. 25..27         Diff. Long. 55

Wedensday [June] 27 [17]98:

First Part fresh Breezeis and Clear Weather:-- At 6 P.M. in top Mast Stearingsail:-- Middle and Latter part Light Breezes and Cloudy     Lattd. Obsd. 10..28 No.

Dist. 102         Course   S.26E.           Diff. Lat. 92                Dep. 45
Lat. in 10..28     Long. in 25..18          Diff. Long. 45

Thurdsday June 28th [17]98:

First Part Light Breezeis and Clear weather:-- At Meridian Sett Stearingsails and royal. At 6 in Ditto.---

Dist. 93           Course   S.17E.           Diff. Lat. 90    Dep. 24
Lat. in 8..58     Long. in. 24..49           Diff. Long. 24

Friday June 29 [17]98:

Light Breezeis and Cloudy weather:---All Necessary Sails Sett   At 11 A.M. Squally:--     Lattd. Obsd. 8..8 North

Dist. 58           Course   S.30E.           Diff. Lat. 50                Dep. 29
Lat. in 8..8       Long. in 24..49            Diff. Long. 29

Sathurday June 30th. [17]98:

Light Ears [airs] and Squally W. all Necessary Sails Sett:-- At ½ Past 6 A.M. Hd. [hoved] S[hip] to the NErd:-----   Light Breezeis and Ditto. gloomey weather:--     This Day No Obsd.

Dist. 45           Course   S.51E.           Diff. Lat. 28                Dep. 35
Lat. in 7..40     Long. in. 24..14           Diff. Long. 35

Sunday July 1st. 1798:            [different handwriting]

Light Airs and Dark sultry weather… At 4 P.M. Inclinable to Calm   At ½ Past 2 A.M. sprung up a Breeze from the southward  Lattitude by Observation 7-48 North

Dist. 30           Course   N.75E.          Diff. Lat. 8                  Dep. 29
Lat. in 7..48     Long. in 23..45            Diff. Long. 29

Monday July 2d. 1798:           [same different handwriting]

First Part of this Day Heavey Weather with showers of rain  At Midnight the fore top mast stay gave way in the Beeis, at 5 A.M. got it Knott[ed] and set up  Middle and latter part Dark unsettled weather -- People employed doing sundry Necessaries  Latd. Obd. 7.. 36 North

Dist. 65           Course   S.79E.           Diff Lat. 12                 Dep. 64
Lat. in. 7..36    Long. in. 22..41           Diff. Long. 64

Tuesday July 3d. 1798:           [same different handwriting]

First part of this Day Light Airs and sultry Weather all Necessarry sails set  At 4 P.M. In T. G. Sails squally with rain, at 3 A.M. hove a cast of the Lead 90 Fathoms out    no bottam  At 9 AM unbent the top sails and bent the old ones… Latter Part of this Day Gentle Breezes and Clear Weather   93 Miles Distance     Lattd. Observed 7..03 North

Dist. 83           Course    S.67E.          Diff. Lat. 33                Dep. 76
Lat. in 7..03     Long. in 20..28            Diff Long. 76

Wednesday July 4th. 1798:      [same different handwriting]

Gentle Breezes and Clear Weather under royals &c at 7 Past M. Hd. [hoved] Ship to the Eastward.  Middle and Latter part of this Day Ditto. Weather. Soposed to Bee a Current Sche… to the: Northward:--   89 Miles Distance      Latitude Obsd. 6..53 North

Dist. 107         Course   S.84E.           Diff Lat. 10                 Dep. 106
Lat. in. 6..53    Long. in. 17..26           Diff. Long. 106

Thurdsday July 5th. 1798:       [same different handwriting]

This 24 Hours moderate Breezes & Cloudy Weather with light showers of rain  People Employed Men[ding] sails making Points[5] and Gaskets &c. Carpinter and Cooper doing sundry Necessaries.     This Day No Observation     110 Miles Distance

Dist. 105         Course   S.61E.           Diff. Lat. 50                Dep. 92
Lat. in 6..3       Long. in 15..54            Diff Long. 92

Friday July 6th. 1798:              [same different handwriting]

First part of this Day fresh breezes and Dark Heavey Weather… At 6 A.M. saw a Ship in the SW Quarter standing to the Eastward…At Midnight hove a cast of the Lead 90 Fathoms out no Bottom. Latter part strong Breezes and Cloudy weather. People Employed making Cage Nettings for the Main Deck. Carpinter & Cooper making sundry Necessaries.     Lattitude Observed  5.5 North     122 Miles Distance

Dist. 116         Course S60E.              Diff Lat. 58                 Dep. 100
Lat. in. 5..5      Long. in. 14..14           Diff. Long 100

[1] The Skerries lighthouse is located on a series of wind-swept and treeless islands by that name, two miles off Carmel Head on the north-west corner of Anglesey, North Wales, and eight miles north of Holyhead harbor, in an area of shallow rock outcrops and vicious currents. The area was notoriously treacherous and claimed many ships as victims. The origin of the name is Norse- a skerry being a rocky islet. The Welsh name, Ynysoedd y Moelrhoniaid, means ‘the Island of Bald-headed grey seals’. The lighthouse was first lit on November 4, 1717 and is still in operation.  ( resourcepool/Skerries6067.htm).
[2] A unit of distance equal to three miles or 4.8 kilometers (
[3] Noon or midday (
[4] To prevent chafing, a thick mat was woven from strands of old rope, spun yarn, or foxes, containing a greater or lesser number of rope yarns in proportion to the intended mat to be made. Entries from the logbook on the Ranger, another slave ship, from December 5, 1789 and December 7, 1789, state, respectively, : “Making mats for the lower yards sinet” and “making mats for the rigging and yards.” Wilkins, Frances, Manx Salve Traders: A Social history of the Isle of Man’s involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade (Wyre Forest Press, Worcestershire: 1999), pp. 94-95.
[5] “Pointing” was unlaying and tapering the end of a rope and weaving some of its yarns about the diminished part, preventing it from being “fagged out” and making it handy for “reeving in a block”, etc. Similar entries from the slaving ship Ranger: “making gaskets and points” (December 14, 1789, “Making points for the new topsail” (December 17, 1789). Manx Slave Traders, pp. 94-95.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Captain Cannon: Voyage of the Ship Iris - Part 10

North America

            On July 12, 1800, Farquhar brought in his Libel as to the cargo. Also on July 12, 1800, James Bush, notary public and one of the Procurators General of the High Court of Admiralty of England exhibited his proxy for Samuel Williams, the agent appointed by the United States, the claimant of the whole cargo on board the ship North America, the sole property of Edward Stevens of Philadelphia, and made himself a party for him, with a design to appeal from and complain of the errors in proceeding in the cause prosecuted before George Cuthbert, solo judge and commissary of the vice admiralty court of Jamaica which found on behalf of George Cannon against the ship North America and the cargo laden therein. A final interlocutory decree condemned the cargo laden on board the ship despite the proof that showed Edward Stevens was the lawful owner.  James Bush the proctor, believing Samuel Williams the claimant and Edward Smith the owner to be injured have appealed.

            On July 26, 1800, upon the petition of Stevens, because Farquhar had not given any Libel of Appeal as to the ship North America, the Lords “decreed the Inhibition to be relaxed as to the Ship.” The Libel as to the cargo was later admitted, the usual proceedings were held and the Cause is assigned for information and sentence. This appears to drop the appeal as to the ship, likely due to failure of the pleadings to address that issue.


            On July 28, 1800, per the logbook, the Iris arrived in Kingstown, St. Vincent. This is also confirmed by: (a) Lloyd’s List which stated it arrived in St. Vincent’s from Africa and then left for Jamaica, and (b) correspondence of Ralph Fisher which anticipated a stop in St. Vincents.

North America

            The appealed case, titled, The North America, William Burke, Master, Samuel Williams, Claimant of the whole Cargo on Behalf of Edward Stevens, Appellant, Against George Cannan, Commander of the Private Ship of War, Iris, the Captor, Respondent,  went before J. Nicholl and W. Manley, the Lords Commissioners of Appeals in Prize Causes, in London. The typeset and printed case appears to be a reproduction of evidence obtained from the Court of Vice Admiralty in Jamaica and setting forth process up to this point, sometime after July 26, 1800.


            On August 9, 1800, the Iris arrived in Jamaica with 408 slaves.[1]

On September 3, 1800, Ralph Fisher wrote to Lindo, Lake and Co. in Kingston, as follows: “I hope ere this you have made us good…sales of the Iris’s cargo and given us a full ship home have inclosed you a document to receive from your court of admiralty the value of the ship North America they have relinquished their appeal for the ship, but yet, persists on the cargo, will thank you to remit me a short dated bill for the amot my expences already is nearly the amount I hope ere long they will give up the cargo, your early remittance will oblige” [emphasis added] Another letter, the same date, from Ralph Fisher to Hardy Pinock and Britan in Kingston: “I thank you for your good intentions to dispose of the Iris into good hands.  Please seal and deliver to Lindo Lake and Co the inclosed document and advise me of the delivery.  I hope ere this W. Asprinall has left Jamaica”

Uncle Toby

The depositions of James Laing and Daniel Steel took place on September 27, 1800 by Waterhouse and Savage (part of the Uncle Toby case in New York District Court).  In the deposition of James Laing, he estimated that the Uncle Toby and cargo were worth $8,000 on arrival in Kingston. He estimated the waste and loss on the salt to be $1,000. Commission on sales would have been $400, commission on sales remittance $380, insurance on the cargo at 5% would be $361, for total expenses of $2,131, providing a net of $5,859. The expenses paid by the owners in Jamaica were $6,801, but they recovered $1,128 from Kirkpatrick. In the deposition of Daniel Steele, he said he incurred charges of £636 and four pence Jamaica currency which was paid to him by Jaques, Laing and Ewing. [He must have acted until they got the power of attorney from the owners].


On or about October 10, 1800, it appears the Iris sailed from Jamaica for Liverpool with the fleet and a cargo of 80 hhd of sugar.[2] The Iris was leaking and had to return to Jamaica, landing at the wharf of Lindo and Lake. While at the wharf, some of the sugar was stolen and the casks were in such bad condition that the captain of the ship Brook, which was going to take the sugar to Liverpool, would not take it unless it was repackaged in new casks. The repackaged sugar only filled 66 hhd.[3] It appears Captain Cannon and the crew got passage on a different ship back to Liverpool.

A letter dated November 12, 1800, from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays in London: “We want £3500 done on the Iris from Jamaica who I believe sails with the fleet on the 10th Octr on goods as interest appears valuing sugar at £40 p __ I have got part done here at 12 to return 3 if sails with an armed ship and six with convoy and hope you can get it done by good men on the same terms, if not please say by return of post”

On November 24, 1800, Captain George Cannon arrived back in Liverpool.

Uncle Toby

December 4, 1800 a Motion and Order for the examination of Thomas Cottrell and Samuel Handy by the clerk of the New York District Court in the Uncle Toby case. The depositions of Thomas Cottrell and Samuel Handy were filed the same date, as taken by Edward Dunscomb, clerk.

January 12, 1801 – Order to Pay Libellants (New York District Court). The owners of the Uncle Toby were ordered to pay the libellants $2,326.12 and five mills as salvage to the libellants. This was 25% of the $9,304.50 value of the ship and cargo after deductions were made for monies paid by the owners in Jamaica. In default, the Uncle Toby is to be condemned and the bond executed for the appraised value of the ship. The salvage was to be divided into five equal parts: two equal fifths to Henry Martin ($930.45) for his greater exertions in saving the ship and cargo and the others three full equal fifths, or $697.84 to each of John Royce and Peter Bowen. Each side had to pay their own costs.

February 3, 1801 – Notice of Appeal (New York District Court). The owners appealed the judgment.

June 1801 – An appeal was filed by the owners of the Uncle Toby in the Circuit Court of the U.S. for the New York District in the Easter Circuit.

June 5, 1801 – Deposition of Abraham Evering of New York. A merchant consignor. One-half of the ship Uncle Toby and one-half of the cargo consisting of salt were sold by John P. Mumford and John B. Murray on January 22, 1799 which was after the news arrived in New York that the ship and cargo had been recaptured by the crew. The one-half was sold to John H. Thompson and Charles Moulton for $3,750 subject to the payment of “a moiety of salt, the charges and expenses that had or might arrive in consequence of her capture and recapture and for port charges.”


A letter dated June 22, 1801, from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays: “At foot you have a statement of insurance done on sugars in the Iris, reshipped in the Brook arrived here last convoy, we will thank you to procure the returns of short interest and for sailing with convoy and furnish each owner with a credit note for their proportions as before divided… Insured by Messrs Dimsdale and Clays         £3500.0.0
               Do    by State and Lee                                 £500.0.0
            Interest on board say 66 Hhd sugar a £40 p- 2640.0.0
                                                Short Interst                1360.0.0”

A letter dated July 2, 1801, from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays in London: “In reply to your esteemed favor of 29th __ we had on board the Iris 80 hhd sugar which on being landed from that vessel the Casks men in a bad state and the captain of the Brook refused to take them in unless the sugars were repacked in new casks which was accordingly done, and filled only sixty six”.

A letter dated July 23, 1801, from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays: “We have been in daily expectation of hearing from you respecting the short interest p Iris. The owners of the above vessel being desirous of clearing the inset, will thank you to advise us as soon as possible what you have done”

A letter dated July 28, 1801, from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays in London: “We have to say the ship Iris returned leaky, in consequence of which the sugars say 80 hhd were landed on Lindo and Lakes wharf and while it lay there 30 wt sugar at least was stolen, the hhd were from being landed again in such bad condition that no ship would take them on board unless they were shipt into new hhd[;] the consequence was there is a charge as under for new casks and cooperage[;] there is also great charges for negroe hire, Wharfage and which we paid in Jamaica we certainly are entitled either to a great return on the under written   must pay us the loss we have sustained a statement of which is as under…1800
Dec. paid W Hart and Co for Casks and Cooperage 72.12.6
            Negroe Labor and Boatage                             24.10._
            Wharfage Landing and Shipping                    56.10._
            Loss of sugar by panding it
            for the safety of the whole by the wharf         105._._
            scales in Jamaica say 30 wt at 70/                             
            Cury at 40 pC-                                    £255.12.6 in sterling £182.11.9
N.B. The return for sailing with convoy and the short interest will be about the same sum as the loss and charges we have paid on the sugar in Jamaica”

On December 5, 1801, Ralph Fisher wrote Mary Oken in London as follows: “We wrote your friend on the 3d June with the £14.14/ for insurance and at same time your power of atty should have been inclosed but by the omition of our clerk, find he did not and it however you have it here inclosed and with regard to the prize money the same has been divided among the ship crew, it would have made no difference to us if your husband had been allowed two shares more, but captn Cannon made no such agreement and the division has been made same as those vessels that were in company at the time of capture.” (emphasis added)

North America

On May 11, 1802, the Lords Commissioners of Appeals ordered further proof of the national character of Edward Stevens the owner of the cargo.

On May 27, 1802, John Fry wrote a letter to the President and Directors of the North American Insurance Company pointing out the proofs it would be requisite for them to procure and desiring that such proofs might be forwarded.  

On February 18, 1803, John Fry of South Street, Finsbury Square of London, merchant, appeared before W. Jerritt. He stated he was employed as an agent by the North American Insurance Company at Philadelphia to manage and conduct this cause of appeal on behalf of appellant. Because of the Decree made by the Lords Commissioners of Appeals on May 11, 1802 ordering further proof of the national character of Edward Stevens the owner of the cargo. John Fry wrote a letter to the President and Directors of the North American Insurance Company pointing out the proofs it would be requisite for them to procure and desiring that such proofs might be forwarded. Fry received a response saying that the proofs could not be procured because of the absence of Edward Stevens from America. He had gone to the Island of Saint Croix on special affairs. So John Fry wrote to Edward Stevens in Saint Croix requesting that he provide the necessary further proofs and forward them to Fry without loss of time.

On February 23, 1803, James Yard of Philadelphia, a citizen of the U.S., appeared in London. He is intimately acquainted with Edward Stevens of Philadelphia. The North America and cargo were going from Santo Domingo to Philadelphia when  captured. Yard, in his conscience, believes that Stevens was at the time of shipping and capture the true and lawful sole owner and had it made it to Philadelphia, he would have accounted to Edward Stevens, and to him only, for the net proceeds. Edward Stevens continued at Santo Domingo until he had accomplished the object of his voyage and the ship New Jersey and its cargo condemned. He bought it back for the account of the American proprietors, and as soon thereafter as possible set sail in and with the ship New Jersey from Porto Rico to Philadelphia and arrived there in or about the month of December 1798. During his absence from Philadelphia, Edward’s wife and family resided and kept house in Philadelphia. From 1793 to the time of his setting sail for Porto Rico, Edward resided in Philadelphia with his wife and family, save for one other excursion to the West India Islands. Edward Stevens is now with his wife in the Danish Island of Saint Croix where he went to settle the affairs of a deceased relation of his wife and he will return again to Philadelphia. He knows of no other mercantile speculation which Edward Steven’s entered into for which he was absent from home. Because of his connections and intercourse he thinks that had Edward Stevens engaged in any other speculation he would have known of it. Before W. Jerritt, Surrogate.

On March 17, 1804, the Lords Commissioners of Appeals in Prize Causes “pronounced the cargo of the [North America] to have belonged as claimed and decreed the same to be restored, or the value thereof, paid to the Claimant for the use of the owners & proprietors thereof”.

            On April 13, 1804, the Court of Appeals for Prizes requested that the proctor for the Claimant and Appellant obtain a value of the cargo.

            On May 11, 1804, assisted by the merchants Benjamin Winthrop and Alexander Champion of London, the court was requested to order the sum set forth in an attached schedule. I am not sure, but believe that a statement dated April 13, 1804 by James Mackenzie and G.A. Glennie, agents for the claimants, may be the stated attachment. It came up with a value of the cargo of £6,041+ (£5,776+ for the mohagony, £34+ for the ebony, £124+ for the braziletto wood and £105 for the braziletto gum).

North America and Iris

On May 22, 1804, Ralph Fisher of Liverpool, one of the executors of the will of his late father, Ralph Fisher, deceased, makes an oath that the account he transmitted to the Registrar and Merchants  based on an order of the High Court of Appeals for Prizes is the only account he ever received concerning the sale. His father never received an account in his lifetime. The House of Lindo and Lake or Lindo Lake and Company was not a House acting as general agents for his father, the owner of the Iris, which captured the North America, except to the extent of selling the slaves of the Iris, and occasionally sold other cargoes of slaves for other ships he owned. The House he normally used was the House of Aspinall. He believes that the money for the cargo was either in the hands of the Office of the Vice Admiralty Court of the Island of Jamaica, or under the control and direction of that court, but his father never received any of the money or an account of it, except as provided. He requests that the court not make him responsible, as executor, for something his father never received. The account, an estimate of the value of the cargo based on an accounting of the actual sales was prepared by the Registrar and merchants as follows: Sales of the mahogany, braziletto wood, etc. was £4,388+ in Jamaican currency, then charges of £2+ for the cryer advertising sale, £105+ for wharfage and landing, £21+ to John Manby for measuring and another £6+ for measuring a portion of mahogany totaled £130+, for a net total of £4,257+ Jamaican currency. The exchange rate of British £ for Jamaican currency was 140%, so the net value in British £ was £3,041+.

We don’t have a copy of the actual court decision reversing the lower court on appeal. We don’t know what the value of the North America cargo was determined to be, or whether the sale proceeds were found in Jamaica, or whether Ralph Fisher’s Estate was liable for it.

As indicated earlier, it would be nice to determine whether the place in London where the appeal papers were found would also be the same place that stores non-appealed prize causes. If not, it would be nice to try and find the records for potentially another three prizes.

[1] 18,435 slaves were delivered by 55 ships to Kingston in 1800: 7,580 from Malembo, 6,748 from Bonny, 5,576 from Angola, 2,004 from Congo, 1,412 from Calabar and 1,280 from New Calabar.
[2] See letter from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays dated November 12, 1800.
[3] Letters from Ralph Fisher to Dimsdale and Clays, dated June 22, 1801, July 2, 1801 and July 28, 1801.