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Type: Schooner ; Armament 5
Launched : 1827 ; Disposal date or year : 2 Jun 1841
Disposal Details : Wrecked on the Caymans ; Lieut. Aug. Chas. May
30 Jan 1828 cruising off the north cost of Cuba for the suppression of the slave trade.
17 Jul 1828 refitting at Nassau, New Providence.
2 Aug 1828, the Skipjack, Lt. James Pulling detained the slave brigantine schooner Intrepido, of 151 tons, and armed with 7 guns, D. JosÚ Puig y Miro, Master, off Cape Tiburon, St. Domingo, with 153 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court at Havana and sentenced to be condemned on 20 Aug 1828. 6 Apr 1830 the agent announced that prize money that had accrued as a result would be available at 41 Norfolk St., Strand, from the 16th inst.
2 Oct 1828 boarded the Spanish schooner Constantine, bound from Havana to St. Thomas', on the coast of West Africa, on a slaving voyage. Two of the boat's crew recognised one of the crew of the Constantine as being a member of the crew of the slave ship Intrepido, arrested on 2 Aug 1828.
13 Oct 1828 departed Havana on a cruise, with a view to discovering slave ships.
22 Oct 1828 at Bermuda.
21 Nov 1828 at 7 am discovered the sail of a Brigantine off the Colorados, to the NNW, which on seeing us bore up and made sail for the Westward. About 5 pm I got up to be about 2 miles off her and raised my ensign and pendant, on which she raised the US flag, and then pulled them down and raised Spanish colours and fired which was returned. Although the weather deteriorated we were able to keep in touch until about 5 am on the 22nd when she was lost in squally weather. She was discovered at daylight but lost again at about 9 o'clock am in thick hazy weather.
24 Nov 1828 boarded the Spanish schooner which showed the distinct signs and smells "the peculiar stench" of having recently discharged her slaves ashore, but at this date it wasn't possible to detain a vessel that was merely fitted out to carry slaves.
26 Nov 1828 observed a sail in the distance which appeared to be the same as that sighted on 21st, but lost her that night.
29 Nov 1828 at Havana. Reports regarding an incident that took place earlier that day regarding the slave ship Maria, Francisco Romero, master. At about 3.25 this morning observed a strange sail off Havana, which on seeing us departed and swept to the Westward. Having opened an occasional fire in an attempt to bring her to she hoisted Spanish colours and responded with round and grape, but to no effect. At about 7 o'clock she went aground and boats from shore took the crew and slaves ashore before we could get up to her. At 7.40 she blew up, and on getting up to her and sending one of the ship's boats across it was discovered that the after part of the vessel was a complete wreck, with one "deplorably emaciated" sick Negro lying on the forecastle. Some guns were found along with a few documents, disclosing the vessel's probable name and indicating that 233 slaves had been purchased at Calabar. Having removed the Negro to the Skipjack the vessel was burnt and the case sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court at Havana, and was condemned on 2 Dec 1828.
2 Aug 1828 detained the slave brigantine Intrepido, with 153 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Spanish Mixed Court at Havana, and on 20 Aug 1828 sentenced to be condemned.
6 Sep 1829 By the Druid, arrived Portsmouth from Jamaica, the Skipjack was at the Bahamas, and among the Keys suppressing piracy.
19 Nov 1829 a letter written by the commanding officer of the Skipjack, Lt. Pulling to W. S. Macleay, Esq., the resident British Commissioner at Havana regarding the inveigling of British seamen on RN ships to desert, which found its way quickly to the Foreign Office and to the Governor of Cuba:
Sir, H. M. Schooner, Skipjack, Havana, 19th November, 1829.
HAVING been informed, in the course of my enquiries for Volunteers for His Majesty's Service, about 3 days since, that 4 men, (George Anderson, William Scott, John Powell, and John Kneall,) who bad deserted from His Majesty's Ship, Galatea, while in this Port, were on board the American Schooner, William Gardner, of Baltimore, I made it my immediate duty to find some proof, if possible, of their identity, in order to reclaim then ; during this investigation I learned, that, on deserting from His Majesty's Ship, Galatea, they had been harboured by a man, commonly called Portuguese Joe, well known in Havana, but whose real name I could not ascertain, who afterwards entered them on board the American Ship, United States, Mr. Kennedy, Master, and, by the names above stated, and on the day subsequent to the sailing of the Galatea, again inveigled and took them on board the Schooner, William Gardner, of Baltimore. When just prepared to make representations to this effect to the Spanish Authorities, the circumstance was unfortunately mentioned by Mr. Kennedy to the Master of the William Gardner, and the men again escaped. It appears to me, Sir, from the conversations I have held with various Masters of Merchantmen, as well as from the above circumstances, that the frequent desertions from His Majesty's Service, in this Port, are all attributable to the same cause. The men, known by the common term of landlords, encourage the Seamen, by promises of high wages, &c. to desert, harbour them during their own Ship's stay in Port, encourage them to live expensively, and when completely in their power, place them on board Vessels engaged in the traffic of Slaves; and this also accounts for the intermixture of English and American Sailors in these Vessels. Considering it highly desirable, Sir, to overthrow so detestable a system, and being uncertain when I shall have it in my power to communicate the particulars to the Commander-in-Chief, I have taken the liberty of writing to you on the subject, hoping that some means may suggest themselves, to punish the Offender in this case, and prevent the future operations of those of his Class.
I have the honour to be, &c. J. Pulling.
W. S. Macleay, Esq.
30 Jun 1830 refitting at Nassau.
4 Oct 1830 arrived at Jamaica, from Havannah.
26 May 1833 arrived Jamaica from Nassau.
23 Jul 1833 departed Halifax for Bermuda.
1 Jan 1834 On the North America and West Indies Station.
8 Apr 1835, off Little Cayman, whilst en route from Belize to Jamaica, detained the Spanish slave brig Martha / Marte, with 600 slaves on board, nearly three times as big as the Skipjack, and carrying 6 x 18's, and two long 12-pdrs., with a crew of 62. See p. 275 at www.archive.org/details/royalnavyhistory06clow - 5 Jan 1837 the agent announced that prize money that had accrued as a result would be available at 22 Norfolk St., Strand, from the 26 inst. The following letter, edited a little, appeared in the Nautical Magazine for July 1835 :
On Wednesday, 8 Apr 1835, at 7 a.m., a sail was espied about a point on the weather-bow, standing to the westward, with all studding sail set, coming towards us. On perceiving what we were, she lowered them, and hauled close to the wind. At 10 o'clock we neared her, and signalized her, which was not answered until very nearly eleven o'clock, when she hoisted a very broad Spanish ensign, and fired two guns to leeward, keeping her ensign flying for ten minutes, when she hauled it down. She fired out of defiance to us, imagining, no doubt, that she would intimidate us, from her being nearly three times our size, and of a superior force in every way, and had originally been a coast-guard ship in the Spanish navy. At two P.m. we came up nearer to her, and saluted her with our long Tom, or in other words our 18-pounder, to which she returned an answer by firing broad-sides of round and grape. This was considered sufficient signal for action, (we were then about 30 miles from Little Cayman), and consequently Lieut. Commander Usher immediately issued orders for the vessel to be put into battle-array, which was executed with the greatest promptitude by the crew of the Skipjack, who were anxiously and impatiently waiting for the awful summons.
The engagement commenced from the time we fired our first gun, and continued until half-past five, when, perceiving we were gaining on her, she immediately fired two stern-chasers, with a view, if possible, of carrying away our foremast, and set all sail to elude us. The result was, that a running fire ensued, which was kept up on our part, and continued until half-past 10, when running under her stern we hailed her, and asked if she had surrendered, to which she answered in the affirmative. It was a lucky thing she had, for we had but very little powder left, having expended 140 rounds of shot, and 400 rounds of powder. On boarding her she was found to be the Martha, slaver, pierced for 18 guns, but carrying only 8, (six Congreave 18-pounders, and two long 12-pounders,) with a crew of 56, men and three officers, captain, super-cargo, and doctor, from Loango, bound to the Isle of Pines. During the engagement, and about an hour after its commencement, our jib-halyards were shot away, but were immediately bent afresh ; this is all the injury we sustained, and we had but one man slightly wounded. The Martha had one man killed, a Spaniard, who was shot while in the act of priming his gun, and eight wounded. Some of us went forward, and were almost suffocated with the smell of a disease which was violently raging among the blacks, called the epidemica dysenterica. When shown below, they were lying about the decks like black rats, some from disease, and others whose death had been hastened from our shots entering the ship and killing them right and left, while the number of broken bones and lacerated wounds that took place was incredible. It appears that as soon as the blacks heard us fire, they immediately stowed themselves away in the hold, among the fire-wood, thinking they would be out of danger; but it was a most untoward event for them, for one of our shots entered, and made such devastation among the wood, that not only the above accidents occurred, but there was one woman who had half her face and head shot off, with her left thigh, which was but hanging to the flesh, and one man who had his head shot clean off.
From the time the Martha left Loango, until she fell in with us, was 43 days. She stopped two months there before she got her living cargo, amounting to 790, out of which 123 died previously to embarkation, 207 of dysenteric fever, leaving 460, of which 13 were killed during the engagement. The slaver was 116 feet long, and 30 feet beam, and her original complement on quitting Loango was 63 men. She has been sent on to Havana, while the Skipjack proceeds to Jamaica, to get a reinforcement of men, and will then sail for the same place.
9 Apr 1835 departed for Jamaica, whilst a prize crew took the Martha / Marte to Havana, where she was put in quarantine and the slaves landed for a similar purpose.
29 Apr 1835 arrived Havana from Jamaica.
10 Jul 1835 departed Port Royal for Chagres.
7 Aug 1835 is reported to be at Jamaica.
17 May 1836 has been furnished with instructions under the Treaty with Spain for the suppression of the Slave Trade by the Flag Officer, North America and West Indies Station.
27 Jan 1837 called at Havana reporting that the Champion, which had recently captured the Portuguese slave schooner Carlota, carrying approximately 200 slaves, had landed them at Belize, but that cholera had since broken out and it was no longer possible to communicate with the shore in order to obtain necessary evidence for Viscount Palmerston.
1 Mar 1837 is reported to have saved the crew of a merchant vessel aground on the Morant Keys at some earlier date. At the present time she is reported to be cruising from Jamaica and ships on the station are generally healthy.
2 Jan 1839 departed Jamaica for Carthagena. 23 Apr 1839 arrived Jamaica from St. Jago de Cuba. 30 Nov 1839 detained in lat 21░ 25' N ; long 80░ West, after a chase of eight hours, the Portuguese slave brigantine Ulysses, Antonio Fernandez, master and owner, with a crew of 17, with 535 slaves on board when detained, but only 533 on board on arrival at Jamaica, was condemned for being engaged in the Slave Trade by the Vice-Admiralty Court, at Jamaica on 18 Jan 1840. 14 Apr 1843 account of proceeds of slave and tonnage bounties will be deposited at the High Court of Admiralty.
29 Jul 1840 Jamaica, left Port Royal for Montego Bay ; 4 Mar 1841 at Jamaica. 3 Apr 1841 Lieutenant Henry Wright, appointed to Dee (late Skipjack), vice Lodwig, appointed to Winchester; 3 Apr 1841 Lieutenant Augustus C. May, appointed to Skipjack (late Pilot), vice Wright, appointed to Dee. 17 Apr 1841 Lieutenant Augustus Charles May appointed to command the Skipjack 30 Jun 1841 the officers and men of recently wrecked HM schooner Skipjack departed Barbadoes on board the Pilot, for an inquiry to be held at Halifax. 26 Jul 1841 news of the loss of the Skipjack arrived in England in newspapers received from the West Indies, at Falmouth on 22 Jul and reported in the London papers of 26 Jul.
2 Oct 1841 reports arrived in England to the effect that following a court martial the officers and men of the Skipjack were acquitted of any blame.