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.

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