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Thais, 1806-1818
Type: Sloop ; Armament 18
Launched : 1806 ;

Portsmouth 24 Jan 1811 departed for Plymouth.

Plymouth 26 Jan 1811 Came in.

Plymouth 22 Mar 1811 departed to the westward.

Plymouth 24 Mar 1811 departed on a cruise to the westward.

3 Apr 1811 Capt E Scobell apptd. in command.

Portsmouth 27 Apr 1812 Remains.

31 Mar 1813 captured a U.S. privateer, the 12 gun brig Rambler, with 88 men, on the Coast of Africa.

Date unknown, but is reported to have detained the slave vessel Calypso on the West Coast of Africa, which was also subject to the smae illegal goings on that were to incriminate the Juan.......see next item, i.e. vessel condemned, and prize money paid out, but condemnation was eventually to be reversed, and the Captain and others became embroiled in illegal activities, which should have cost them a lot of money, and I note that the Scobell family's estates in Cornwall were sold around this period ? and Capt. Scobell resigned his commission as the commanding officer of the Thais circa Jan 1814.

May 1813 detained the Juan, which was taken to Sierra Leone and Ship and cargo condemned on 7 Jun 1813, subject to appeal pending in the High Court of Appeals for Prizes. Her master was illegally imprisoned for a year, making it impossible for him to attend court proceedings brought to condemn the Juan, and to appeal the case. However, the matter was discovered....see the following article and the vessel was either restored to the master/owners, or compensation paid accordingly.

Jan 1814 Capt E Scobell gave up command. See below for comments regarding some illegal goings on that were taking place amongs the Agents and Courts, which may have backfired against Capt. S., and caused him a great loss of money ? See comments below taken from a book entitled "More Thoughts Occasioned by Two Publications," by Joseph Marryat, M.P., published in 1816, available in Google Books.

Portsmouth 16 Jun 1814 arrived from Plymouth.

Falmouth 30 Jun 1814 arrived from Plymouth, and departed again with secret orders.

Falmouth 25 Dec 1814 departed with the out-ward bound West Indies convoy.

Plymouth 31 Dec 1814 arrived from Portsmouth.

Falmouth 12 Jan 1815 arrived from a cruise.

Falmouth 13 Jan 1815 departed on a cruise.

Isles of Scilly 7 Feb 1815 departed.

Plymouth 20 Mar 1815 departed to the westward.

Falmouth 26 Mar 1815 Put back with the outward bound convoy of East Indiamen, and several West Indiamen, having thrown two of her guns overboard in the gale.

Falmouth 1 Apr 1815 departed with her convoy of East Indiamen.

Madras 29 Aug 1815 departed for Penang and China.

Portsmouth 14 Nov 1816 arrived from India.

I certainly have not inquired how many of the Sierra Leone cases have been affected by the "notorious circumstances,"* which the writer of the Exposure recites, in exculpation of the officers at Sierra Leone, and to account for the delays and difficulties experienced by claimants. That such delays and difficulties have not been complained of without reason, will appear from the following case:

The ship Juan, Jose Patrollo master, departed from the Havannah in the month of January 1813, with a cargo of dry goods, bound to the coast of Africa. No tidings were heard of her until the month of November following, when her owner, a merchant at the Havannah, was informed by a person who arrived there from the Rio Pongus, that the ship had been captured and carried into Sierra Leone. The master arrived at the Havannah in July 1814, and declared that his vessel and cargo had been captured in the month of May 1813, by his Majesty's ship Thais, Captain Scobell, carried into Sierra Leone, and condemned there on the 7th June following: that he and his mate had been thrown into prison at Sierra Leone, and confined until the 14th of May 1814, and that in consequence of his imprisonment and want of pecuniary means, he was unable either to enter his protest against the proceedings of the Court, or to make known his situation to his owner. When the Agent employed in this case, applied to Mr. Zachary Macaulay to inform him whether distribution had taken place, (as in such event it would have been useless for him to appeal,) he replied that it had. The Agent, having reason to doubt the assertion, brought the case into Court, and Mr. Macaulay was called upon to make an affidavit to the fact; copy of which is as follows:

Case of the Juan, Jose Patrollo master.

Appeared personally Zachary Macaulay, of Birchinlane, London, Merchant, Agent for Edward Scobell, Esq. the commander, and the rest of the officers and crew of his Majesty's ship Thais, the captors of the above ship and cargo, and being duly sworn to depose the truth, made oath, that upon the time for prosecuting an appeal in the above case expiring, the deponent proposed to the said Captain Scobell to distribute the proceeds thereof, amounting in the whole to about the sum of 990, to and amongst the captors ; but in consequence of the said Captain Scobell having then several appeal cases from the Vice-Admiralty Court of Sierra Leone depending before the Court, and the issue of such appeals being from decisions already given uncertain, and the said Capt. Scobell apprehending, in the event of restitution; the expences would exclusively fall upon himself, directed the deponent to retain the proceeds of the said ship Juan and cargo, to be appropriated for the sole purpose of paying law expences in his unsuccessful appeals. And the deponent lastly made oath, that in consequence of the ship Calypso and her cargo, that had been condemned in the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, as prize to the Thais, having been restored upon farther proof by this Court, without any allowance being made to the said captors for their expences, he in obedience to the orders of the said Captain Scobell, has paid and applied the sum of 400 or thereabouts, part of the said proceeds, towards the captors' expence, both here and at Sierra Leone in that case. And the deponent holds the remainder of the said proceeds, subject to the expences in any future unsuccessful causes, in which the said captors are interested. Same day the said Zachary Macaulay was duly sworn to the truth of this affidavit, before me, S. Parsons

The Court, in their decision, admitted the appeal of the claimants, considering their allegations reasonable, and Mr. Macaulay paid in the sum of 800, as the proceeds; the Court having rejected his defence of having paid part of the said proceeds towards unsuccessful causes on behalf of the captors.

The facts of this case not only prove the unjust treatment experienced by the claimant, but lead to some very important considerations of a more general nature, with respect to the proceedings both in Sierra Leone and in this country.

After the Juan had been condemned by the Court of Vice-Admiralty at Sierra Leone, the master was imprisoned, and detained in confinement near twelve months; by which means the owners were prevented from hearing of their loss, until Mr. Zachary Macaulay, the prize agent, had not only received the proceeds of the sales, but had entered the case in the Registry of the High Court of Admiralty, as a "deserted claim;" and also began what he called a distribution. The conduct of Mr. Macaulay, however, was as illegal as that of the Judge of the Court of Vice-Admiralty at Sierra Leone; and his having appropriated the proceeds of this ship and cargo to other uses than such as are directed by the statute, enabled the Lords of Appeal to repair the injustice that had been done at Sierra Leone, and grant a hearing of the cause.

The plea which Mr. Macaulay urged in his affidavit, as an excuse for his violation of the Prize Act, developes some very curious circumstances. Captain Scobell appears to have been determined to act upon the instructions issued by the Directors of the African Institution to making captures; and Mr Macaulay to have undertaken to identify him from the consequences, by violating the Prize Act. Mr. Macaulay's affidavit shews this to have been a sort of systematic arrangement, not confined, to one case only; for he swears that he held the said proceeds of the Juan to be "subject to the "expences in any future unsuccessful causes in which the said captors are interested." So that if the imprisonment, or want of pecuniary means, of the masters of captured vessels, did not prevent parties from lodging their appeals in England, within the twelve months allowed by law, then the expence of these future "unsuccessful causes," as they are called, was to be defrayed by an illegal appropriation of the proceeds of those vessels and cargoes, the claims for which were considered as deserted, because the parties had been prevented from lodging them in regular time.

How admirably this arrangement was calculated to promote the favourite objects .of the African Institution! In the first place, Mr. Macaulay, by a violation of the Prize Act,, was giving a bonus to his Majesty's naval officers, to persevere in those illegal captures which the Directors had recommended in their instructions. In the second place the claimants being precluded from the means of appealing against, the condemnations at Sierra Leone, the Directors of the African Institution were enabled, from this circumstance, to enforce upon the minds of his Majesty's Ministers and the public, a belief that the Slave Trade carried on under Spanish and Portuguese colours, was a smuggling trade to the British colonies ; the parties interested in which dare not come forward as claimants. And, in the last place, this idea led to a presumption, that the Slave Registry Bill was a measure of absolute, necessity, as the only expedient which could be devised to put an end to this contraband and felonious traffic.

My fairness and candour are called in question, because I stated that, in cases of restitution, the proceeds of prizes condemned and sold at Sierra Leone, had not always been forthcoming; and the writer of the Exposure says, "he cannot find that there is more than a single instance to support my assertion." One instance suffices for that purpose ; and the one I had in view, was the case of Captain Clement Sneyd, of his Majesty's ship Myrtle, whose agents were obliged to pay into Court a considerable sum, which had been received for him, his officers, and crew by Mr. Kenneth Macaulay at Sierra Leone, from whom it could not be obtained, nor has been obtained to the present moment. This circumstance came to my knowledge by mere accident. Whether there are other instances of the same description, I know not, having never given myself the trouble to inquire. Published in 1816.