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Black Joke, 1828 ?
Type: Former slaver purchased into the service ; Armament
Disposal date or year : a day or so prior to 9 May 1832 when her then mother ship departed Sierra Leone for England.
Disposal Details : Deliberately burnt from orders on high.
Originally taken by Sir Francis Collier in the Sybille. It should perhaps be noted that the officers and men serving on board the Black Joke would usually have been a part of the crew of the Sybille, and maybe other ships serving on the West coast of Africa, such as the Medina.
This little craft is reputed to have captured 21 slavers, with upwards of 7000 slaves in them. Among them was the Spanish brig Providencia, e Brazilian brig Vengador ; the Buenos Aires privateer Presidente ; the Spanish brig Almirante, 14, with 80 men and 460 slaves - the latter after an eleven hours' chase with sweeps, and an eighty minutes' severe action, in which the enemy had 15 killed and 13 wounded, and the British, 3 killed and 7 wounded. See p. 269 at www.archive.org/details/royalnavyhistory06clow.
Sierra Leone 1 May 1828 in action against the large and well armed privateer Presidenta, which, after an action of 2 hours, sought a truce following the death of their Captain, a man named Prouting, said to be of Portsmouth. The crew of the pirate vessel were sent back to England in the Plumper for trial. The 3 men were killed in the Presidenta and a number wounded ; one man was killed and a number wounded in the Black Joke.
16 May 1828 detained in lat. 4° 45, the Brazilian slave brig Vingador, Miguel Antonio Netto, master, with 645 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Portuguese Court of Mixed Commission, Sierra Leone, and on 16 Jun 1828 sentenced to be condemned.
1 Feb 1829 Detained the Spanish slave brig El Almirante, Andres Ynzua, late master, 350 tons, in lat. 3° 50' N., 4° 25' E. ; bound from Lagos River to Havanna, with 466 negroes on board, 39 of whom died prior to emancipation. This gallant action was described in the London Gazette of 17 April 1829, as follows :
Commodore Collier has transmitted to the Right Honourable John Wilson Croker, a letter from Lieutenant Henry Downes, commanding the Black Joke, tender to His Majesty's ship Sybille, reporting that on the 1st of February last, the Black Joke captured, on the Coast of Africa, after a long chace. and a gallant action, a Spanish slave vessel, called the Almirante, with four hundred and sixty-six slaves on board.
The Black Joke carried, two guns and fifty-five men ; the Almirante, fourteen guns and eighty men ; and Commodore Collier expresses in high terms his sense of the gallant and skilful conduct of Lieutenant Downes, and of the zeal and courage of the officers and men under his orders, in this successful action against a vessel of very superior force.
The Spanish vessel had fifteen killed, including her Captain and First and Second Mates; and thirteen wounded.
The following is a return of the loss on board the Black Joke:
Mr. T. P. Le Hardy, Admiralty Mate, wounded.
Mr. Richard Roberts, Mate (of His Majesty's ship Medina), wounded.
Thomas Barley, gunner's crew, wounded.
John Byatt, able seaman, wounded.
Jeremiah Johnson, able seaman, wounded, since dead.
James Allyett, able seaman, wounded, since dead.
7 Feb 1829 the crew of the President underwent an examination prior to being committed for trial on charges of piracy ; many of her crew appear to either be British or have anglicised names and include George Byron, William Foster, Hedley, Eaton, Clement, Wilson, Horne, Wheble, Christian, Turner and Brown.
6 Mar 1829 detained the Brazilian slave brigantine Carolina at lat. 5° 11' N., 4° 53' E. ; bound from Lagos River to Bahia, with 420 negroes on board, 18 dying en route to Sierra Leone and 3 whilst the court processed the vessel, 64 men, 186 women, and 149 children were subsequently emancipated once they had gone through the registration process. The vessel was sent for adjudication to the British and Brazilian Court of Mixed Commission, Sierra Leone and on 13 Apr 1829 sentenced to be condemned.
11 Oct 1829 detained in lat. 1° 51' N. long. 5° 51' E., whilst en route from the River Brass, and was wrecked on the Scarcies Bank, no lives being lost, the Spanish slave brigantine Cristina / Christina, Joaquim Rodriguez, master, with 348 slaves on board which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 27 Nov 1829 sentenced to be condemned.
Fernando Po 4 Nov 1829 Has been obliged to leave the coast due to having fever onboard.
1 Apr 1830 detained in Lat. 6° 17' N., Long. 4° 13' E., when en route from Cape Mount to Havana, the Spanish slave brigantine Manzanares, Manoel Alcantara, master, with 354 slaves on board which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 11 May 1830 sentenced to be condemned.
Sierra Leone 10 Apr 1830 Refitting.
5 Oct 1830 off Annabona boarded the French slave brig Duc de Bordeaux, of Guadaloupe, 144 tons, L.M. Delascour, both owner and master, with 567 slaves, and a crew of 44 men, 9 guns, en route from the Bonny River to Guadaloupe, but being French was unable to detain the vessel.
16 Oct 1830 boarded in lat. 3° 25' N. long. 7° 35' E., the French slave brig L'Actif, of Nantes, 168 tons, M. Poponneum, master, M. Tonneau, owner, with 420 slaves, and a crew of 24 men, 4 guns, en route from the Bonny River to Havana, but being French was unable to detain the vessel.
20 Oct 1830 boarded in lat. 2° 16' N. long. 8° 47' E., the French slave brig Lynx, of Nantes, 192 tons, M. Jarnoux, master, M. Blond, owner, with 320 slaves, and a crew of 23 men, 3 guns, en route from the Bonny River to Martinique, but being French was unable to detain the vessel.
1 Nov 1830 boarded in off Fernando Po, the French slave brig La Bonne Aline, of Nantes, 120 tons, M. Centurier, master, M. Bonjurat, owner, with 200 slaves, and a crew of 15 men, 2 guns, en route from the Bonny River to Martinique, but being French was unable to detain the vessel.
3 Nov 1830 boarded in off Fernando Po, the French slave schooner L'Hermione, of Martinique, 47 tons, M. Barthelemy, both master, and owner, with 135 slaves, and a crew of 10 men, 2 guns, en route from the Od Calabar River to Martinique, but being French was unable to detain the vessel.
9 Nov 1830 detained in lat. 3° 0' 53" N. long. 9° 0' 24" E., off the Cameroons River the Spanish slave brigantine Dos Amigos off ; Ramon Juan Mujica, aka Juan Ramon de Muxica, both Master and Owner ; bound from the River Cameroons to Havana. Is understood to have had 567 slaves on board when first sighted, but running up the River Cameroons, was enabled to land them before capture. The vessel was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 5 Feb 1831 sentenced to be condemned.
Sierra Leone 3 Dec 1830 was reported to be in the Bights [of Benin] with the Medina.
Sierra Leone 21-22 Feb 1831 the Black Joke, tender to the Dryad, detained in lat. 6° 20' N. long. 11° 32' W., off Cape Mount ; when bound from River Galinas to Havana, the Spanish slave schooner Primeira, 130 tons, Gabriel Perez, master, with 311 slaves on board which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 14 Mar 1831 sentenced to be condemned.
3 Mar 1831 arrived at Sierra Leone with the Primeira.
4 Mar 1831 the slaves, 111 men, 45 women, 98 boys 53 girls, 4 infants; 3 killed by shot from the tender ; height of slave deck 2 feet 2 inches. were landed from the Primeira to the slave yard.
24 Mar 1831 the Dryad departed with her tenders Fair Rosamond and Black Joke, to run down the coast to Prince's Island and Fernando Po.
27 Mar 1831 Off Cape Mount, and have set a course to the south, however, by the 31st the current has taken us some 45 miles off course and we are now off Cestos/Sestos.
1 Apr 1831 Off Cape Palmos.
5 Apr 1831 Are now aware that the rainy season has started the daily showers penetrating through to the skin in no time.
12 Apr 1831 in sight of the Isle of St. Thomas.
17 Apr 1831 arrived off West Bay, St. Princes Island.
19 Apr 1931 the Atholl, Medina, and Sea Flower, the latter also tender to the Dryad, arrive at Prince's Island from Fernando Po.
26 Apr 1831 detained in lat. 3° 30' N. long. 9° 15' E., near the mouth of the River Calebar, the Spanish slave brig Marinerito, Francisco Cavieces, master, following a severe action, off the S.E. point of Fernando Po when bound from Old Calebar to Havana. Several negroes were accidentally killed in the action ; 26 died soon after from fright ; 107 were landed at Fernando Po sick from terror, crowding and privations, 60 of whom died in a few weeks, either there or on their passage up to Sierra Leone. First Class Petty Officer Isaac Foile was killed in the action with the Marinerito and 6 were wounded on boarding her, including Lieut. Ramsey, her commanding officer, severely wounded. She was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone and on 3 Jun 1831 sentenced to be condemned. See page 63, part II of United Service Journal of 1832, for more detail, available in Googlebooks.
10 Sep 1831 detained in lat. 4° 30' N. long. 7° 10' E. in the River Bonny ; bound from River Bonny to Cuba. the Fair Rosamond and Black Joke, tenders to the Dryad, chased 2 Spanish slavers into the River Bonny, the Regulus and the Rapido, Ramon Gonzales, master, who, whilst they retreated up the River were seen throwing their slaves, shackled together in twos, overboard, and whilst a few were saved it was estimated that probably about 150 or so may have been drowned by the slave traders in their attempt to save their vessels. Both vessels were taken to Sierra Leone to be condemned. Whilst slaves were found on board the Regulus when she was captured, none were found on board the Rapido and it took the evidence of 2 slaves who survived being thrown overboard to convince the judges to convict her. An account of the half bounty granted for the capture of 39 slaves will be delivered to the High Court of Admiralty, on 7 Jan 1833. A further distribution of the hull bounty granted for twenty-nine slaves (formerly disallowed), who died previous to condemnation of the Regulo, will be made on the 28 Jan 1834.
3 Oct 1831 at Fernando Po, has been hauled up on a rude slip in order to make repairs, and members of the Dryad's ship's company working on board appear to be suffering from the climate, fevers and whatever else it is that makes Fernando Po such an awful place to be sent.
15 Feb 1832 detained in lat. 3° 30' 0" N. long. 7° 28' 0" E.,, bound from River Bonny to Havana, the Spanish slave schooner Frasquita, alias Centella, Juan Raymondo Verger, master, of 115 tons, with 290 slaves on board, bound from the River Bonny for Cuba, the prize being sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 20 Mar 1832 sentenced to be condemned, with only 230 negroes surviving to be emancipated, most of the deaths resulting from smallpox and dysentery;.
Sierra Leone 3 May 1832 was learned that in late April the newly arrived Commander-in-Chief had ordered the Black Joke to be burnt and for her stores to be sold. In a trial of sailing against RN vessels recently arrived on the station, she is reported to have trounced them all, soundly. But it would appear that age has also taken its toll and she wasn't worth further repair. It was generally agreed by those that knew and loved the Black Joke that the only people happy to see her go up in smoke were the Slave Traders.