Friday, June 14, 2019

Captain Cannon: Voyage of the Ship Iris - Part 6

Uncle Toby

Henry Martin, one of the crewmen on the Uncle Toby, employed Ezekial Kirkpatrick as agent for the ship and also employed counsel to put in a claim for the ship on account of the owners. He also caused notice of the events to be given to the owners of the Uncle Toby: John P. Mumford, John B. Murray, John H. Thompson and Charles Moulton, all merchants in New York. Henry Martin, John Royce and Peter Bowen stayed with the Uncle Toby, but John Makins and Daniel Haywood quit her.

North America

            On or about November 10, 1798, the ship North America was sailed from Port Royal, at the end of the harbor, to Kingston.[1]

Iris and North America

            On November 12th, Richard Lake, Jr., one of the agents for George Cannon and crew, deposited 8 documents at the Vice Admiralty Court and prepared a sworn statement to Commissioner John Fraser that he received them from Theady McCarthy (the supercargo of the North America) and that they had not been altered, etc.

            On November 15, 1798, George Crawford Ricketts, Advocate General of Jamaica, on behalf of the King, filed a claim against the North America in the Court of Vice Admiralty. He requested that the ship and goods on board be taken from persons subject to the King of Spain as a lawful prize within the jurisdiction of George Cannon pursuant to His Majesty’s royal proclamations of February 11, 1793 and November 1796. The ship and goods to be taken and seized as property of persons of the King of Spain (St. Domingo – where the ship originated from) within the Territories of France (Haiti – where the ship was captured). We do not have a record of it, but a similar claim was also probably filed against the Uncle Toby on the same date.

            On November 15, 1798, Mathew Fisher, also referred to as Mathias Fisher (23), and William Charlton (26), died.

A Power of Procuration was filed on November 15, 1798. It provided that Richard Lake, Abraham Alexandre Lindo and Richard Lake Junior, merchants, agents of George Cannon, his owners, officers and seamen (the “principals”) had appointed Ballard Beckford Nembhard to be the procurator and proctor of the principals, to take actions as he deemed proper, including appearing in the Court of Vice Admiralty and filing libels and other process as necessary for the condemnation of the North America, and the personal property on board her. It was signed by R Lake, AA Lindo, Richd Lake Junior and J Fraser Commissioner in the presence of Dy Denniss

            On November 19, 1798, John Smith, a seaman on the North America, made a sworn statement to Commissioner Fraser about his understanding of the nature of the voyage, the capture, the cargo and where and how it was obtained. Further, Theady McCarthy and William Burke, supercargo and captain, respectively, of the North America, both about to leave Jamaica, filed a Power of Agency appointing Ezekial Kirkpatrick as their agent, noting that a libel had been filed in the Court of Vice Admiralty by his Majesty’s Advocate General on behalf of George Cannan, commander of the Iris against the North America and her cargo.

Iris, North America and Uncle Toby

On or about November 19, 1798 (after the Uncle Toby had been detained 14 days), Captain Cannon or his agents withdrew or “abandoned” the claim against the Uncle Toby. As soon as the claim was withdrawn, Ezekial Kirkpatrick, on behalf of the North America, McCarthy and Burke, filed a libel against the Uncle Toby for the supplies they had provided to the Uncle Toby at sea, and for “salvage” for assisting the Uncle Toby into port, having provided a navigator for the Uncle Toby as “Henry Martin and the others on board [the Uncle Toby were] not…able to navigate” the ship. This was a “great surprise” to Henry Martin, as Ezekial Kirkpatrick was his agent and this claim was adverse to the Uncle Toby. So Martin hired new agents, Messers Daniel Steel and Thompson, merchants, and put in another claim to the court for the Uncle Toby on behalf of its owners. They also filed an application with the court for reimbursement by the Iris for the costs and expenses the owners incurred because of the libel against the Uncle Toby and her cargo. Independently, the owners of the Uncle Toby, who were John P. Mumford, John B. Murray, John H. Thompson and Charles Moulton, all of New York, hired John Jaques, James Laing and Humphry Ewing, merchants.   


On November 20, 1798, Edward Murry (29) was impressed. However, he did not sign the Agency Agreement on November 9th, so he was either impressed before that date, or was not on the ship at the time the agreement was signed.

On November 23, 1798, Ritchard Stasbrick, also referred to as Rich Scaristrick (3), who started the voyage as 2nd Mate, but became 1st Mate after the death of Captain John Spencer, died. Anthony Creeds (20) also died.

            A letter dated November 26, 1798, from Ralph Fisher of Liverpool, owner of the Iris and the Martha, to Edmund Hill in London: “Amongst the rest of the G[un] powder purchasers, Messr Fisher and Brocklebank have applied to me respecting what passed on purchasing the Martha's G’powder, I can with honor afront that…I never gave a written [order] at any time [for] that ships powder… between the latter end of Feby and the first week in March[; T]hat I then engaged it, and told them it must be secured for me[;] I at that time was preparing her whole cargo and meant her to sail with all expedition[; S]ome time in that month I determined to stop her sailing to wait for the Iris, the latter ship was at the high price of £7. I have every reason to think that had I given the Martha's Order with my own ship the Iris, after your order came for the Rice, I could have got them both furnished at £5-10 which is a great loss to me in the latter ship, but that was out of the question, as I had engaged the Martha's as above”.

            On November 28, 1798, James Tomay (39) ran.

            On December 1, 1798, Samuel Landor, also referred to as Samuel Sander (8), the fifth ranked member of the crew, and John Pickering (11), were impressed. Pickering did not sign the Agency Agreement on November 9, 1798, so he may not have been on the ship when the Agreement was signed.

North America

On December 6, 1798, an affidavit was sworn in front of John Fraser and signed by James Law, second mate on the North America, and deposited with the Court of Vice Admiralty.


On December 6, 1798, Owen Costons, also referred to as Owen Collins (30), died.

On December 8, 1798, Jonathan Howard (38) died.

On December 17, 1798, Richard Warbrick, also referred to as Ritchard Warbrick (7), the Clerk, ran. He was the fourth ranked crewman at the time.

Iris, North America and Uncle Toby

About January 19, 1799, the Vice Court of Admiralty in Jamaica discharged the Uncle Toby from the libel filed against it by the North America and the owners of the North America were ordered to pay costs and damages to the owners of the Uncle Toby. Sometime earlier, Ralph Fisher, the owner of the Iris, was also ordered to pay costs and damages to the owners of the Uncle Toby. The court found that the Iris detained the Uncle Toby for 14 days and the North America detained the Uncle Toby for 52 days. Ezekial Kirkpatrick paid $1,128 in costs over to Jaques, Laing, and Ewing, which was £372, 12 schillings and six pence in Jamaica currency. I believe that Kirkpatrick, originally hired by Henry Martin of the Uncle Toby, received these funds on behalf of Ralph Fisher, owner of the Iris, much earlier. Steele, on behalf of the Uncle Toby, hired by Henry Martin on behalf of the Uncle Toby later, indicated that the amount ordered repaid was only a small part of the actual costs and expenses and considered appealing the order of the court, but determined that Kirkpatrick would not be able to pay any more than that. Lainge indicated that “the owners,” presumably the owners of the North America, had to pay £2,267, one schilling and two pence halfpenny in Jamaica currency which was equal to 6,801 Spanish milled dollars in costs and expenses. The Uncle Toby’s cargo of salt which was landed, stored and then reshipped was damaged considerably and much was wasted in the process.

Iris and North America

            On January 24, 1799, the case of the Iris and North America was heard before the Honourable George Cuthbert, sole Judge and Commissary of the Court of Vice Admiralty of Jamaica. The Advocate General opened the Libel filed in the Cause and John Fraser opened the claims of Theady McCarthy, on behalf of Edward Stevens, as owner of the cargo, and on behalf of James Blake, as owner of the ship. Then examinations were read of William Burke, Theady McCarthy and Joseph Smith, then the affidavits of George Cannon and Richard Lake, Jr. and the various papers that they deposited with the court, then the affidavit of James Law. The Advocate General spoke, then John Fraser and Edmund Pusey Lyon spoke on behalf of the claimant and Philip Redwood spoke on behalf of the relators, in reply. Judge Cuthbert then dismissed the proceeding to give himself time to make a decision.

Two days later, on January 26, 1799, Judge Cuthbert determined that the North America and her cargo were a “good and lawful Prize” and she was “condemned and confiscated to our Sovereign Lord the King”. However, Judge Cuthbert reserved a determination on the distribution of the proceeds, pending a claim to be filed on behalf of the owners, commander and crew of the armed British ship Mary to a distributive share of the ship and cargo. Arguments on appeal reveal that the reasons Judge Cuthbert ruled in favor of the Iris were that both James Blake and Edward Stevens were resident in St. Domingo, a Spanish possession, at the time of the shipment and at the time of the capture. There was no proof that they were neutral or that they had since withdrawn from St. Domingo so as to be considered as neutral. These circumstances created a presumption that the ship and cargo belonged to an enemy and there was not sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption.


            A letter dated February 2, 1799, from Ralph Fisher to Francis Philips in Manchester, arranging insurance for the return of the Iris to Liverpool: “I want 5 at £6,000 done on the Iris from Jamaica to L[iver]pool to sail immediately after the 12th Jany with or without convoy[;] pray can you recommend a good Insurance Broker to me, and please inform me what part of that sum can be done at Manchester. . . I have got insured here between £10,000 and £11,000 on the following terms, at 15 Gs pCt to return £7 for convoy and 3 pCt for sailing with an armed ship or ships, I want £500 done on ship valuing her at £5,000 and £5,000 on goods as interest appears.  Your speedy answer will oblige me”.

            A letter dated February 7, 1799, from Ralph Fisher to Wm. Dinwiddie in Manchester: “Am this moment favored with yours [letter] of the 5th; I inform’d my friend W. Philips what I had given on £10,000 p the Iris here which is 15 Gs to return £7 for Convoy or £3 with an arm’d ship but no warranty whatever on their keeping company to any point on those terms if you can get me £2,000 at £4,000 by good men around you, pray do, if not let me know as soon as possible.”

On or about February 9, 1799, the ship North America was moved from the east end to the Lindo wharf, the private wharf owned by Lindo, Lake & Co. Charges (disbursements) against the North America included charges for “negro hire removing the ship from the upper part of the harbor to the places of sale”.[2]

On February 12, 1799 the Iris left Jamaica after a layover of more than three months.[3]

Uncle Toby

Following the discharge of the libel by the North America against the Uncle Toby, the Uncle Toby and her cargo were turned over to Lainge, Jaques and Ewing. Steele and Thompson hired a Captain Smith to command the Uncle Toby and Henry Martin employed people to work on the Uncle Toby to refit her for sea. Then a Captain Goodrich, who was sent by the owners from America to take charge, arrived with a letter assuring Henry Martin, John Royce and Peter Bowen that they would be handsomely rewarded for retaking the Uncle Toby. Smith ceased to act as Captain when Goodrich arrived and was paid for 24 days of work. Goodrich engaged Henry Martin as mate.  The Uncle Toby left Jamaica for Havana, likely in February 1799,[4] and discharged the cargo of salt, then took a cargo of sugar to the port of New York where it arrived June 8, 1799.


A letter dated February 13, 1799, from Ralph Fisher to Wm. Dinwiddie in Manchester: “The policy on the Iris I recd I don’t doubt from my information but you have procured me men of the first solidity and liberal in case of loss, which, hope won’t happen, have been thank God thus far fortunate during the war… You say you can get me choice men for £1,000 more if so, pray do, say £400 more on goods and £500 on ship valuing the ship at £5,000”.

            On March 2, 1799, the logbook of the Iris begins again after being silent for four months. The Iris is leaving the North Key of Crooked Island in the Bahamas[5] for Liverpool. It appears that a group of at least seven ships have agreed to sail together for safety and likely elected one of the captains among them to act as “Commodore.”[6] It was cheaper to insure a voyage if a ship was traveling with a convoy, particularly if other ships in the convoy were armed.[7] This would make it much more difficult to have the ships captured by French or Spanish privateers as prizes. At 4:00 p.m., the Iris “Hove too the fleet. Getting up with the Commadore at 5[:00 p.m.].” At 8:00 p.m. the log noted the “End of Long island”[8] 3 miles to the east-north-east. At 2:00 a.m. the “North Keay of Crooke[d] Island” was 5 miles to the east.

[1] Disbursements of the North America show that George Cannon ordered £2 paid to W. Kewings on November 10th for piloting the ship to Kingston.
[2] Disbursements for the North America show payments for moving the ship.
[3] Cambridge Slave CD.
[4] The Uncle Toby was detained 14 days by the Iris (to at least Nov. 19), 52 days by the North America (to at least January 10), and then Captain Smith was paid for 24 days of work (to at least February 3rd). It appears that the court determination was even later than January 10, so the Uncle Toby likely left Jamaica even later in February than the 3rd.
[5] Crooked Island is southeast of Nassau in a group of islands in a shallow lagoon called the Bight of Acklins, with Crooked Island in the north and Acklins in the south east. In about 1783, American loyalists began to settle there and brought slaves to start a short-lived cotton industry. By the beginning of the 19th century, there were more than 40 plantations and 1,200 slaves. Columbus visited the island and called it “Isabella” after his queen. (Wikipedia: Crooked Island, Bahamas; Captain Hugh Crow notes visiting St. Vincent’s and Crooked Island “for orders” on his way to Kingston, Jamaica to deliver slaves. He also notes leaving Kingston, Jamaica with a fleet of 12 ships. “We got through Crooked Island passage on the sixth day after we sailed…” Crow Memoirs, pp. 81 and 132.
[6] Captain Hugh Crow, a contemporary of Captain Cannon from the Isle of Man, in the summer of 1799, noted an engagement with a French schooner, involving cannon fire, off the coast of Bonny, and “intelligence that three French frigates had been seen on the coast…” He later had an engagement with the schooner and “three large ships” that “began to blaze away with their long guns, and we at them, and we thus maintained the action for about two hours, until slack water, when we cut the cable and got back to Bonny, fortunately without having any material damage. The captains of the [nine] vessels then in the harbour, having heard my report, called a meeting, at which it was agreed, for mutual safety, to sail in company, and we appointed Captain Latham of the Lottery to act as commodore.” (Crow Memoirs, pp. 68-69). The fleet Captain Cannon is traveling with is probably similar, with a commodore appointed among the ship captains and traveling together for safety. In fact, the ship Lottery, whose captain was the commodore in Captain Crow’s fleet (the Slave Trade CD refers to him as Captain Roger Leathom), was also in the same fleet with Captain Cannon, under a different captain, Captain John Whittle (Captain Crow was with the Lottery on its next voyage). A group of seven ships arrived in Liverpool in April 1799, all having traveled from Jamaica. (See Lloyd’s List, dated April 16, 1799 and journal entries for March 31, 1799 and April 12, 1799).
Lloyd's List for April 16, 1799.
[7] Ralph Fisher’s letter dated February 2, 1799, for this voyage, was arranging insurance for the return of the Iris to Liverpool. He wanted a quote “with or without convoy”. He already had a quote from someone else “for convoy” and “for sailing with an armed ship or ships.” In another letter dated February 7, 1799, Fisher noted he had a quote for a return with “Convoy” and “with an arm’d ship but no warranty whatever on their keeping company to any point on those terms…”
[8] Long Island in the Bahamas is 60 miles long and no more than four miles wide at its widest point. It is northwest of Crooked Island. (

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