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Type: Gunvessel - Tug ; Armament 4
Launched : 28 Apr 1831 ; Disposal date or year : 1861
BM: 365 tons
Machinery notes: 100
Woolwich 9 Jan 1831 Preparing to join the squadron in the Downs.
25 Jul 1831 Ran down a barge off Gillingtree Point, Erith Reach.
Woolwich 1 Nov 1831 Refitting.
Per a report made to Parliament in 1842, at some time during 1832 the Steamer Pluto, 3 guns, Complement: 53, was involved in combatting the Slave Trade and experienced 8 Deaths, and in the absence of other information I assume the causes of death were from disease etc.
Circa 9 May 1832 reported to be in the Bights of Benin and Biafra.
Per a report made to Parliament in 1842, at some time during 1833 was involved in combatting the Slave Trade.
21 Jan 1833 with the Charybdis, moves the victualling establishment for the West Coast of Africa from Fernando Po to Sierra Leone [presumably Freetown ?].
2 May 1833 at Fernando Po.
5 May 1833 detained in lat. 3°58' 42" N. long. 7° 27' 39" E., en route from the River Bonny and bound for St. Jago de Cuba the Spanish slave brig Josefa, Francisco Jozes Buigas, master, with 278 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone and on 22 Jun 1833 sentenced to be condemned.
Ascension 30 Sep 1833 Reported to be cruising on the West Coast of Africa.
Per a report made to Parliament in 1842, at some time during 1834 was involved in combatting the Slave Trade and experienced 1 Death by Accident, Total No of Deaths: 3.
8 Jan 1834 detained in lat. 4° 1' N. long. 7° 0' E., en route from the River Bonny to Cuba, the Spanish slave brigantine Vengador, Pedro Badia, master, with 408 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 21 Feb 1834 sentenced to be condemned.
Gambia 6 Jun 1834 Reported to be in the Bight of Benin.
Plymouth 16 Nov 1834 Arrived from the West Coast of Africa, last from Ascension (16 Sep) : sails shortly to Woolwich to refit.
Portsmouth 25 Apr 1835 it is reported that the ambassador to Persia will be taken to Constantinople in the Pluto, en route for Persia.
Malta 26 Aug 1835 arrived from England last Wednesday week with HM Ambassador to Persia. They sailed on the 15th for Trebisond.
23 Aug 1835 arrived Constantinople.
Plymouth 11 Feb 1836 was released from quarantine on Saturday and has come into the Barnpool to be repaired.
Portsmouth 9 Jul 1836 is expected shortly from the eastward, en route for the North Coast of Spain.
Portsmouth 15 Oct 1836 arrived yesterday to take stores to the north coast of Spain, along with some Royal Marines.
Portsmouth 8 Apr 1837 arrived from London with specie for the Cape of Good Hope, now transferred to the Pelorus. She sails shortly with stores for the British Legion on the North Coast of Spain, calling at Devonport en route.
4 Dec 1840 Woolwich, to be commissioned shortly by Lieutenant Commander W. S. Blount formerly of the Hermes steam vessel. 12 Dec 1840 Lieutenant W. S, Blount ; Second Master W. C. Pettigrew ; Assistant-Surgeon J. Peters (from the Skylark) ; Clerk in Charge James Haddock, appointed to the Pluto. 18 Dec 1840 Woolwich, appointed to the Pluto engineers: Tuscott, Keelson, and Tietson. Per a report made to Parliament in 1842, at some time during 1841 was involved in combatting the Slave Trade and experienced 5 Deaths, and in the absence of other information I assume the causes of death were from disease etc.
2 Jan 1841 Lieutenant W. S. Blount, appointed to the to command the Pluto steamer. 2 Jan 1841 Second Master W. C. Pettigrew ; Assistant Surgeon J. Peters ; and Clerk in Charge John Haddock, appointed to the Pluto;. 5 Jan 1841 Woolwich, second master Duffill has joined in the place of Mr. Pettigrew sick. 16 Jan 1841, Portsmouth, arrived from the eastward, with volunteers for the Indus; she will go to Plymouth with a few others for the Impregnable. 19 Feb 1841 Gunner R. Lennon, appointed to the Pluto. 29-30 Apr 1841 rendered salvage services to the Ann, of Liverpool.
27 Oct 1841 detained in lat. 3° 32' N. Long. 6° 35' E., off Cape Formoso following a chase of some hours, whilst bound from Havana to the River Brass, the Portuguese slave schooner Paz, M. Cardozo, master, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court of Justice, Sierra Leone, and on 25 Nov 1841 sentenced to be condemned.
6 Dec 1841 the commanding officer, Lieutenant Blount, concluded a Treaty with King Eyamba, of the territory around the Old Calabar River, to prevent the activities of the slave traders in the region.
Per a report made to Parliament in 1842, at some time during 1842 was involved in combatting the Slave Trade.
20 Feb 1842 detained the slave vessel Balurca, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, and sentenced to be condemned.
15 Mar 1842 detained the slave vessel Eugenia. 21 Dec 1843 the proceeds arising due for payment.
10 Feb 1846 the masters of 5 vessels lying in the Old Calabar River : the Majestic, Garrow, Ouzaba, Mary, Saguenay, the Supercargo of the Magistrate, and John Williams of the Barque Cestrian confirm that the slave trade has, to the best of their knowledge, not existed in the River since the signing of the treaty in Dec 1841.
Jun-Jul 1848 Off the Slave Coast (Sierra Leone). See the vessel Amphitrite for article from the Morning Chronicle, for 11 Sep 1848.
11 Sep 1848 ordered to cruize off Ambriz, 40 miles, to meet the flag-ship on an appointed day.
15 Sep 1848 detained a slave schooner, Name Unknown, with 12 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena, and sentenced to be condemned.
5 Nov 1848 detained the slave vessel Quatro Andorinha, with 388 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, and sentenced to be condemned.
22 Dec 1848 detained the Brazilian slave brigantine Merea. 8 Aug 1850 Proceeds of hull &c., and tonnage bounty now payable. The source for this is the Navy List and the London Gazette.
3 Feb 1849 assembled a squadron off Gallinas, consisting of the Penelope, Favorite, Sealark, Waterwitch, Bonetta, Dart and Pluto. Boats from the squadron with 300 men passed the bar at 7.30. a. m., and landed at Dombocorro, took possession of it, and the neighbouring factories and barracoons...whilst the boats of the Penelope, pushed on to the Solyman factories, and the village of Dreesing, were totally destroyed. Commander Murray also conducted a party to Mineh, and destroyed the factories and barracoons which it contained. On the 4th the three large factories in the vicinity of Dombocorro were destroyed, along with Dombocorro itself, with all its contents, was burnt to the ground, and by sunset, the force had returned to their respective ships, without a single casualty (representing a summary of Commodore Hotham's report report on the event).
28 Nov 1849 detained in lat. 7° 42' S., long. 12° 44' E., after a short chase, the Brazilian slave barque Casco, aka Suspiracao, Bruce McKenney, master, having reputedly given up her American flag for a Brazilian, when sold on 27 Nov. She was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena, and was condemned on 3 Jan 1850. When detained she had 439 slaves on board, 426 surviving to be emancipated during the adjudication process.
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.
10 Jan 1850, the Pluto, in company with the Cyclops, detained off Ambriz, West Coast of Africa, the slave barque Pilot, being fitted out for the slave trade. She was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena, and was condemned on 11 Feb 1850.
11 Jan 1850 detained in Lat. 7° 50' S., Long. 13° 12' E., the slave vessel Rowena, L. 94 ft., B. 24½ ft. D. 15¾ ft., being fitted out for the slave trade, but being leaky and rotten was burnt, the wheel and figurehead being taken used for adjudication. She was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena, and was condemned on 21 Feb 1850, having been liable to forfeiture at the time of seizure.
14 Feb 1850 detained in Lat. 8° 7' S., Long. 12° 57' E., the slave vessel Anne D. Richardson, 228 tons, William H. Thomas, master, a US ensign, but no papers, and being fitted out for the slave trade, she was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena, and was condemned on 18 Mar 1850 - see p. 393 at www.archive.org/details/royalnavyhistory06clow
16 Mar 1850 detained in lat. 6° 8' S. Long. 12° 9' E. the Brazilian slave brig J. W. Huntingdon.
17 Jun 1851 Accounts for the captures of Casco, Rowena, and Anne D. Richardson deposited at the High Court of Admiralty.
31 Jul 1852 It is reported in a copy of the Straits Times, received at Sydney that, with the Semiramis ?, this vessel is about to leave Singapore for Labuan to join the Pluto and from thence proceed to the coast of Borneo, to discover what has happened to the Dolphin.
11 Aug 1853 arrived at Loanda.
7 Jan 1854 sent to Jaboo, in the region of Lagos, with Mr. Consul Campbell to have discussions with discontented chiefs, supposedly unhappy with Kosoko's activities.
31 May 1854 arrived in the River Congo and found the English brig Sobraon lying in Medora Creek complaining of having been driven away from the factory at Punta de Linha by the Portuguese, apparently being very jealous of the treatment the British receive from the natives.
1-3 Jun 1854 went up to Punta de Linha to interview the Portuguese and Africans and warned the former that if there was a repeat of their earlier activities that the governments would become involved. Returned to Medora Creek.
4 Jun 1854 visited King Medora at his farm and was impressed by the large quantities of produce being grown, including palm-oil, which was replacing animal fats and oils not now available from the Russians, due to the War in Europe.
5 Jun 1854 dropped down the river to Cabinda in company with the US ship Dale.
6 Jun 1854 at sea.
18 Jun 1854 arrived back in the River Congo and steamed up as far as Medora Creek. Keeping perhaps too close in-shore touched slightly, but came off without any damage.
19 Jun 1854 sailed up to Punta de Linha and anchored at Prince Machill's town, called Foomoo, where discussions were held with Prince Machill and his headmen with a view to increasing trading links etc., and a temporary agreement was made between the Chiefs and Headmen regarding trading between the natives and visiting English traders.
21-25 Jun 1854 sailed up to Lombee, using the lead all the way, the river having changed since the map was drawn. Initially everyone was friendly, but the Portuguese, not wanting competition in the market place attempted to make the English unpopular amongst the natives. However they eventually gained confidence and their chiefs came on board and talked and were shown around the ship and taken on a short cruise.
26 Jun 1854 returned down stream with the greatest caution, with the boats ahead, taking into account the river was running at about 4-5 knots. Arrived at Foomoo on the 28th and Punta de Linha on the 29th and down to Medora's Creek before leaving the river.
2 Jul 1854 has arrived back off the river and pleased to note no fresh outbreaks of fever following the passage upstream.
5 Nov 1854 at Loanda, in conversation ashore with the British Commissioners regarding the slave trade in the region and the American schooner Oxford, in particular, which had aroused suspicions amongst those fighting the slave trade.
1 Jan 1857 departed England for anti-slavery duties on the West Coast of Africa.
10 Mar 1858 boarded the American barque Firefly.
28th March, 1858 Bights Division, on the West Coast of Africa: following a visit by the Flag Officer he stated that there is no doubt that the vigilance of our cruisers alone has prevented the shipment of large numbers of slaves from the lagoons communicating with Whydah. The increase of the squadron has been most advantageous, and the cruizers, under Commander Aplin's judicious guidance, have been so far, I hope, completely successful. The squadron at present consists of the Hecla, Trident (to be relieved by Ardent,) Triton, Sharpshooter, Pluto, and Brune. l have stated that there is no doubt that the Slave Trade in the neighbourhood of Whydah is checked only by our cruizers; in proof of this I may mention that all the reports from British residents show that the demand for slaves in the interior markets has much increased, that the slave-hunts from Abomey and from Abbeokuta have been revived, and that three undoubted slavers, with two suspected vessels, are at this moment on the coast. These are, the Marshall, and the Hanover, both under American colours ; and the Don Juan, Spanish brig lately purchased, it is said, by slave-dealers, off Appi, watched by the Trident. There is also reason to suspect the American barque Firefly, boarded by the Pluto on the 10th of March last, and a Portuguese schooner. I have written to the American Commander-in-chief pressing him to station an American ship of war in the Bights.
3 Sep 1859 in Cabinda Bay, boarded and detained 2 launches, and a felucca, Names Unknown. without papers or colours, carrying materials to fit out a vessel to be used in the slave trade. The vessels were surveyed and destroyed as being unfit to make a passage to the nearest Vice Admiralty Court, but evidence of the destruction etc., and the paperwork, was sent to the Court to enable the court to arrive at an appropriate decision.
21 Sep 1858 at 7.45 p.m. boarded in lat. 4° 40' N. long. 1° 55' W., the American brigantine Henry, of Waldoboro, bound to New York, V. Harding, master, proving she was an American vessel, and the captain noted in his report that she was not molested, or in any way detained ; and had she shown her colours before sunset, when it was practicable for them to have been distinguished from Her Majesty's steam-vessel under my command, she would not have been visited, which seems to have been one of the little games played by US merchant shipping when attempting to wind up and irritate RN cruisers searching for slave trading vessels, which would, around this period hide their real identity by flying the US ensign, which they were unable to search, or as the captain notes above, was not molested.
11 Dec 1858, evening, off Magna Bona, attempted to board the American barque Panchita : finding it would have been impossible for a boat to go alongside her at the rate she was going, I fired a blank gun to bring her to. My reason for boarding her was on account of her standing directly in from seaward for Magna Bona, a noted slave-station : her register was examined and appeared to be correct ; but I consider the vessel to be very suspicious, from the inability of the master to give any information as to his intended movements, excepting that he was going to try and trade anywhere along the coast, from Ambriz north. She was not detained or molested, and no complaint was made by the master or any other person on board, nor did the master wish any notation made in his log.
9 Apr 1859 at anchor 5 miles to the south of Magna Bona, observed the American barque Orion pass this vessel and asking where she was. Having gone too far to return a reply sent Mr. O'Connell, the Second Master, on board with the answer and to examine her register. Her appearance was suspicious and informed the U.S. Corvette Marion on our next meeting and understand that she has since detained the Orion.
24 Apr 1859 boarded the brig Ardennes to confirm her nationality, and, on learning that she was an American vessel and that her destination was the River Congo, withdrew as he was aware that the USS Marion was in the River. Later: the Marion boarded the Ardennes and finding some discrepancies in her documentation sent the vessel to New York for adjudication.
28 May 1859 one of the ship's boats returned from Punta da Lenha and was sent to cruise to the southward.......so assume that the Pluto was based near the mouth of the River Congo at this time ?
16 Jul 1859 at daylight the boats of the Pluto and Vesuvius detained a slave brig Name Unknown, supposed Esperanza, off Cabenda, having been hovering off the coast for more than a month, there being no wind : having no papers or colours and fitted out in all respects for the slave trade was sent to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena for adjudication.
30 Nov 1859 detained in Lat. 4° 45' S., long. 9° 56' E., the slave barque name unknown, supposed Orion, James Morgan, master, 3 days after leaving the coast [of Angola], with 888 negroes. The vessel was sent to St. Helena for adjudication under the charge of the Gunner, Mr. Lamb. It was stated that when the Commanding Officer of the USS Constellation received the news at Loanda, of the detention of the Orion with James Morgan on board that he sent the USS Mystic to St. Helena to request delivery of Morgan into the hands of the US authorities, since he was an American citizen and should be sent back to America to stand trial.
25 Jan 1860 boarded in Lat. 0° 40' N., long. 6° 23' E. the American brigantine John R. Rhoades, whose papers were correct, to the casual observer was plainly involved in the slave trade.
30 Apr 1860 returned to England from the West Coast of Africa. Was then used as a tug at Sheerness.
26 Mar 1861 Sheerness. Completed breaking up, per Parliamentary estimates etc. 1861-62.