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Type: Gunvessel - Survey vessel ; Armament 5
Launched : 29 Sep 1832 ; Disposal date or year : 1866
BM: 550 tons ; Displacement: 677 tons
Machinery notes: 220
26 Jan 1833 is fitting out at Chatham for service on the West India station.
31 Jan 1833 Sailed from Woolwich for Plymouth and Falmouth.
18 Feb 1833 Arrived at Estaca de Vates and sailed for Vigo, for coal.
4 Jul 1833 Arrived Falmouth from Corfu (4 Jun), Malta (8), Gibraltar (17), and Cadiz (18).
1 Aug 1833 Sailed from Plymouth for the Mediterranean.
7 Aug 1833 Arrived Cadiz from Falmouth.
15 Sep 1833 Arrived at Falmouth from Malta (26 Aug), Gibraltar (8 Sep), and Cadiz (9).
1 Jan 1834 Employed on various home port services
9 Jan 1834 at Woolwich under repair in the basin.
20 Jan 1834 Sailed from Woolwich to take the next Mediterranean mail.
29 Jan 1834 Sailed from Portsmouth for Falmouth to resume her packet duties to Lisbon.
28 Feb 1834 Departed Malta.
25 May 1834 detained in lat. 20° 45' N., long. 83° 40' W., off the Isle of Pines, Cuba, en route from a point some 80 miles to the north of Loanda to Havana, the Portuguese slave schooner Despique, Jozé Maria de Oliveira, master, with 215 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Portuguese Court of Mixed Commission, Sierra Leone, and on 1 Sep 1834 sentenced to be condemned.
31 May 1834 arrived Havana. The Captain seeks advice from the British and Spanish Mixed Commission at Havana regarding his next step as the Despique is Portuguese.
3 June 1834 sailed for Nassau, where it is hoped the negroes can be put ashore, having remained at Havana for want of water. Will probably need to send paperwork, the prize master, the master of the slave ship etc., to Sierra Leone for the ship to be condemned and the surviving slaves to be emancipated.
9 Oct 1834 arrived Gibraltar en route for Falmouth.
4 Feb 1835 in the roads at Falmouth - has burst a boiler. Is expected to sail tomorrow for the Mediterranean.
5 Feb 1835 sailed, but put back due to bad weather, having repaired her boiler.
Portsmouth 4 Apr 1835 is reported to have arrived at Falmouth from Malta with despatches.
20 Nov 1835 arrived Malta from Falmouth.
24 Nov 1835 departed Corfu.
2 Dec 1835 departed Patras
8 Dec 1835 sailed from Malta
18 Dec 1835 sailed from Gibraltar
Portsmouth 2 Jan 1836 arrived Falmouth last Saturday.
25 Feb 1837 arrived Falmouth with mail from Corfu (2nd) ; Patras and Zante (3) ; Malta (7) ; Gibraltar (17) ; and Cadiz (18th inst.).
26 May 1837 in Valetta harbour.
13 Mar 1841, was at Barbadoes. 24 Mar 1848 detained the Brazilian slave schooner Guahyba, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, and sentenced to be condemned. 22 Nov 1849 proceeds due payable.
7 Apr 1848 Captured slaver Mercurio. 218 tons, which was sent to the Vice-Admiralty Court, St. Helena for adjudication and subsequently condemned. 26 Dec 1849 Balance of proceeds of hull and tonnage bounty on Mercurio payable.
Jun-Jul 1848 Off the Slave Coast (Sierra Leone). See the vessel Amphitrite for article from the Morning Chronicle, for 11 Sep 1848.
9 July 1848 ordered to keep Loanda on a bearing of west, 60 miles from the shore, until relieved by Grappler, on information received relative to the Providencia slave steamer.
20 Dec 1848 Coast of Africa
15 Jan 1849 detained in Lat. 6° 9° N. Long. 2° 42' E. the Brazilian slave brig Assombre, alias Albion. 14 May 1851 Account of proceeds from prize Albion deposited with the High Court of the Admiralty.
23 Oct 1849 detained in lat. 6° 02' S., long. 11° 30' E., on with no papers and completely equipped for the slave trade the Brazilian slave Schooner Venus, which was destroyed as Commander Tudor had no men to spare for a prize crew. 31 Dec 1849 condemned to be forfeited by the Vice-Admiralty Court, at St. Helena.
6 Dec 1849, the Firefly, in company with the Pluto, detained in lat. 8° S., lon. 12° 55' E., the slave brig Juliet, L 86 ft., B. 21 ft., D 12 ft., Jozé Maria de Carvalho, master, the vessel being burnt following measurement, and the figurehead being removed for adjudication. 7 Mar 1850 condemned to be forfeited by the Vice-Admiralty Court, at St. Helena, having been liable to forfeiture at the time of seizure.
31 Jan 1850, detained in lat. 6° 2' S., lon. 11° 43' E., the Brazilian slave brigantine Independencia, L. 90 ft., B. 23˝ ft., D. 14 ft., Joaquim Gomes Marinho, master, and following a survey was found to be unfit to proceed any further and was burnt. The prize money included the profit from the sale of a Chronometer. 18 Mar 1850 condemned to be forfeited by the Vice-Admiralty Court, at St. Helena, having been liable to forfeiture at the time of seizure.
19 Mar 1850 detained off Ambriz, West Coast of Africa. the Brazilian slave barque Navarre.
25 Dec 1850 detained in the River Congo a slave lateen, Name Unknown.
30 Aug 1851 Coast of Africa
19 Jun 1852, encounter with negro pirates or slavers in the river Congo - see p. 394 at www.archive.org/details/royalnavyhistory06clow
13 May 1853 transferred all papers for the northern division to Commander Henry Need of HMS Linnet.
4 Jul 1855 the Dragon and the Firefly detained the Russian schooner Pallas.
1 Aug 1855 detained the Finnish barque Fides.
3 Aug 1855 detained the Finnish barque Preciosa.
30-31 Aug 1855 Firefly and Dragon seized plank and tar at Rasso.
DNS of 22 Mar 1856 : Naval Prize Money : Department of the Accountant General of the Navy, Admiralty, Somerset House, March 20, 1856. Notice is given to all persons interested therein, that preparations are now making for the intended distribution of proceeds arising from the Russian schooner Pallas, captured on 4 Jul 1855, by her Majesty's ships Driver and Firefly.
DNS of 22 Mar 1856 : Naval Prize Money : Department of the Accountant General of the Navy, Admiralty, Somerset House, March 20, 1856. Notice is given to all persons interested therein, that preparations are now making for the intended distribution of proceeds arising from the Finnish barque Fides, captured on 1 Aug 1855, by her Majesty's ship Firefly.
DNS of 22 Mar 1856 : Naval Prize Money : Department of the Accountant General of the Navy, Admiralty, Somerset House, March 20, 1856. Notice is given to all persons interested therein, that preparations are now making for the intended distribution of proceeds arising from the Finnish barque Preciosa and cargo, captured on 3 Aug 1855, by her Majesty's ship Firefly.
DNS of 22 Mar 1856 : Naval Prize Money : Department of the Accountant General of the Navy, Admiralty, Somerset House, March 20, 1856. Notice is given to all persons interested therein, that preparations are now making for the intended distribution of proceeds arising from the cargo of plank and tar captured on 30 and 31 Aug 1855, at Rasso, by her Majesty's ships Firefly and Dragon.
23 Apr 1856, Present at Fleet Review, Spithead ; Captain Otter
3 July 1856 departed England for anti-slavery duties on the West Coast of Africa.
20 Jul 1857 off Whydah.
29 Jul 1857 off Whydah boarded the French screw steamer Stella, Odo, Master, bound from Marseilles for Whydah and the Leeward coast, supposedly here to embark emigrants, which in fact are no better than slaves, in that the presence of the vessel is having quite an impact on the price of slaves in an upward direction, which perhaps speaks for itself. After leaving here she is reported to be sailing for Gaboon to complete her "cargo" of free emigrants, not being able to compete with the slave traders, who were paying 80-90 dollars per head for a slave, whereas the French had only budgeted $50 per head, and thus many of those embarked by the French were probably rejects from the slave traders ?
15 Aug 1857 arrived off Little Popoe, where the Teazer was relieved after her commanding officer had warned that an American merchant vessel named the Wm. Clark was suspected of being a slaver, which tied in with intelligence received before arriving here.
21 Aug 1857 4 Austrian crew members arrived on board from the Wm. Clark, seeking sanctuary, stating that they had no wish to crew a slave ship, but that they had not been allowed to leave the ship once they attempted to resign and had since been ill-treated. This information, along with the fact that the ship's papers were stated to be false, and that the American master wasn't the master, along with much other information, confirmed the suspicions held regarding this vessel and it was determined that later that day she would be boarded and examined more closely since they no longer appeared to rely on the U.S. flag for protection.
22 Aug 1857 detained in Lat. 6° 11' N. Long. 1° 57' E. the slave brigantine Wm. Clark, equipped for the Slave Trade, Thos. Ranger, her master having thrown her flag and papers overboard, admitting that he wasn't the master and that the Spanish master had already escaped ashore. The William Clark was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, and on 30 Oct 1857 sentenced to be forfeited.
23 Aug 1857 sent the Wm. Clark, under a prize crew, to Sierra Leone.
27 Aug 1857 detained the Spanish slave barque Conchita, Eugenio Beyona, master, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice at Sierra Leone, and on 7 Nov 1857 sentenced to be forfeited. 20 Sep 1859 tonnage bounty due for payment. For more on the detention see below.
28 Aug 1857 the Conchita, with 3 of her crew as witnesses, the master, mate and cook, departed for Sierra Leone under her prize crew, for adjudication by the British and Spanish Mixed Court.
29 Aug 1857 off Whydah.
Circa 28 Apr 1858 departed the River Congo with 33 Negroes, recovered from a slave canoe in the River Congo by one of the ship's boats of the Medusa, for the adjudication of the Vice Admiralty Court at St. Helena, which took place on 31 May 1858, when 32 negroes were emancipated, one having died since they left the Congo.
24 Jul 1858 returned to England from the West Coast of Africa.
1860 Mediterranean, Survey vessel
21 Feb 1860 Woolwich. Commissioned for Service in the Mediterranean.
1864 Mediterranean Station. Reports of Fevers and Measles onboard. Number of Cases of Disease and Injury.
Commander Day to the secretary to the Admiralty.- (Received October 12.)
(Extract.) Firefly, off Whydah, August 29, 1857.
I have the honour to inform you that, on the 27th of August, whilst at anchor at this place, I seized, and sent down for adjudication to Sierra Leone, under charge of Mr. Chown, Second Master of this ship, the Spanish barque Conchita her papers being informal, no custom-house clearance from her last port, Bahia, where the master states she shipped her cargo of rum, tobacco, and other stores; her, papers being signed by a former captain ; the date of her passport being expired last May, and not renewed ; and on searching her we found a quantity of plank, very large water-casks (empty and full), with a large quantity of rice, Indian corn, and calavances, none of which articles were down in her manifest. The circumstances of the seizure are as follows: I arrived here on the afternoon of the 26th of August, and according to general custom boarded all the vessels lying here for any information, and also to get any instructions which might be left on board them for our cruizers, which is sometimes done in cypher. On boarding the Conchita, Lieutenant Cooper and Mr. Winnecote, the boarding officers, were shown an entry in the log-book by the boarding officer of one of our cruizers, stating that the Conchita had been boarded and was all right ; but recollecting that the same thing had occurred in her former voyage last March when we boarded her, shortly after Commander Adams had done so, they requested to see her papers, and Mr. Baker's passport was again produced, so the boarding officers were induced to look further into them, and, discovered the deficiencies which I have previously detailed. The papers having been returned to the master of the ship, the boarding officers left immediately, and informed me of the case. Early next morning, the 27th, having furnished the same two officers with the proper documents according to the Articles of the Treaty, and given them the paper marked No. l for their guidance, they proceeded on board the Spanish barque Conchita to search her; and No. 2 is their report, on receiving which I went onboard myself, taking the book of instructions for the suppression of the Slave Trade with me, and after examining the papers of the vessel, as also the contents of the hold, was convinced that the vessel was an illegal trader, and had rendered herself liable to seizure under Articles III, V, VI, IX, and X of the Treaty with Spain of the 28th June, 1835, and, therefore, after pointing out these Articles of the Treaty, as well as others bearing on the case, to the master of the vessel, I informed him I should seize the vessel under that Treaty, and send him down to Sierra Leone for trial. He protested against it, and declared he was a lawful trader in palm oil, and threatened a great deal, and as just at the time a French screw man-of-war steamer (La Zelée) anchored in the roads, he said he should throw himself on her protection, and did send a French master of a merchant-vessel to him ; however, I informed the master of the Conchita that, as I had already seized him, he was under my charge, and that I should allow no French, or any one else, to interfere ; also that it was not at all probable they would, and I shifted the Firefly close in alongside the Conchita. The same evening I placed a prize crew, consisting of an officer and ten men, on board, and removed the Spanish crew, with the exception of the master, one mate, and the cook to Her Majesty's ship, Firefly. Part of the crew have gone ashore, at their own request, at this place, and the remainder wish to go also, and will be sent as soon as the surf on the beach allows of it. They confess that the vessel was to have taken in a cargo of slaves as soon as her stores had been landed, and had fully depended on not being searched again. The vessel is a fine barque of about 350 tons, well found, and sails beautifully ; apparently she has a large cargo of rum, tobacco, and sugar in her, but I did not disturb more of it than was necessary to ascertain the fact of her having all these leaguers, planks, &c., as I wished not to detain the vessel, as she had a fair wind and current to get away with to the westward, which seldom happens ; but from what I can hear, when Mr. Chown, the officer in charge, takes an inventory of the goods and stores on board, many more articles that would condemn the vessel would be found. The empty casks were stowed alternately with full ones containing rum, and others water ; the planks were down against the side of the ship ; and the casks of calavances and corn underneath the cabin ; so that it required a careful search to find out these things.
I dispatched the vessel away on the afternoon of the 28th to Sierra Leone.