By Sir Edward Durnford King, Knt, K.C.H., Rear Admiral of the Red, and Commander-in-chief of H.M. Ships and Vessels employed, and to be employed on the Brazils, and Cape of Good Hope Station.

Instructions for the Captains, Commanders, and Lieutenants Commanding, H.M. Ships and Vessels employed, and to be employed on the Brazils, and Cape of Good Hope Station ; 1840.

Limits of the Station

As Occasional reference will be made in the course of these Instructions to the Limits of the Station, and as they will hereafter be frequently mentioned on the special and other orders which you may from time to time receive ; and as it may in some cases be of importance to you to known them, I am induced to insert a statement of them here, for your information and guidance.

The Limits of the Brazils, and Cape of Good Hope Station, as at present constituted, are as follows :

On the North by a line drawn from the Western Coast of Africa, along the 7th degree of South Latitude, until it intersects the Meridian of Greenwich, to the South, along that Meridian as far as the 10th Parallel of South Latitude, then to the Westward along that 10th Parallel of that South Latitude, as far as the 20th Meridian of West Longitude, then returning to the northward along the 20th Meridian of West Longitude until it intersects the Latitude of Cape St Roque, upon which Parallel of Latitude the Northern Limit is to continue until it reaches Cape St Roque.- [in lat. 5 S.

On the West.- along the Coast of South America, from Cape St Roque to Cape Horne, and Southward from that Cape to the Antarctic Circle.-

On the South.- by the Antarctic Circle.-

On the East.- by the 75th degree of East Longitude, as far North as the 10th Parallel of South Latitude, and a line is then to be drawn Westward, along the 10th Parallel of South Latitude, to the 60th degree of East Longitude, and then North to the Equator, and along the Equator to the Coast of Africa.-

Article 2

The principal duties which the squadron on this station are called upon to perform being.-

To maintain the Integrity of Her Majesty's Colonial Possessions ; to protect and encourage British Residents Interests and Commerce within the limits of the Stations ; and to exert every means in our power to suppress the nefarious Traffic in African Slaves ; you are, in addition to any Regulations or Directions you may have received from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty or other Competent Authority, to conform yourselves, as far as circumstances will permit, to the letter and, in every instance, to the spirit of these instructions.

Article 3

The Protection of British Possessions, Residents, Interests, and Commerce.-

1. When employed upon detached Service, you are to pay due regard to the requisitions that may be made to you from the Ministers, Governors, or other Authorised persons, for your Co-operation and assistance on any necessary Service, whether it may be for the protection of H.M. Possessions, or for the benefit of the Trade of H.M. Subjects, or otherwise, so long as the same does not interfere with, nor impinge any Instructions you may have previously received from en, it being, of course a general obligation on all H.M. Civil and Military Officers to afford mutual aid and assistance to each other in all cases affecting the Welfare of the Queen's Service ; and you are to understand that, in very urgent cases, where requisitions made by Ministers, Governors, or other authorised persons may interfere with the instructions you are acting under from me, the Commanding Naval Officer belonging to the Squadron, on the spot, in the want of my being too distant to refer to, must weigh and consider the relative importance and urgency of any such required Service, as compared with that directed by his instructions from me, and he must them Act in regard to complying with or refusing such requisitions, as in his judgment may appear to be right ; always recollecting the heavy responsibility he will incur by an infringement of the Instructions of his Commander in Chief, unless the urgency of the case shall most fully warrant it.

2. And as frequent applications are made by Ministers and Consuls for conveyance of themselves and others in H.M. Ships, you are to be guided by the 15th Chapter of the General Printed Instructions, and in particular by the 2nd Article of that Chapter.-

3. In any communication you may have with the Governing Authorities at places where you may be stationed, you are on no account to be led to interfere on the disputes of any Contending Parties, further than my be unavoidable for the sole object of protecting British subjects in their lawful commercial pursuits ; and if any Party should make you any proposal of a political nature, not immediately connected with your Naval Duties, you are to decline interfering at all in the matter, or at the most you may consent to report it to me for the consideration of H.M. Government, if there be no British Minister residing with the Governments making such proposal to you.-

4. Although the protection of the lives and property of British subjects resident in a Foreign State, is one of the first objects of your peculiar care, yet their protection should be limited to affording them Asylum on board ship in cases of extreme necessity, and securing by boats an escape from the shore, when Civil tumult may render the departure of the Merchants a measure of justifiable precaution.-

5. Should an officer commanding a Naval Force, in the prosecution of hostilities against any of the Governments within the limits of the Station declare any of the Ports where you my happen to be, in a state of blockade, such Blockade is not to be opposed by you, if the force be sufficient to carry it into legal and effectual execution, and you are in such cases to be governed regarding places so blockaded by the usual Laws of Nations.

6. During the occasional visits which circumstances my require the Ships or Vessels under your command to make to the Ports of Foreign Nations in these countries, you must conform strictly to the Established Regulations and Customs of the place ; and you are to take special care that no reasonable grounds of offence be given by your officers or ship's companies to the peculiar habits, religious ceremonies, or even what may appear to them, the abused prejudices, of the inhabitants.-

Article 4

The Slave Trade

1. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having specially charged me with the suppression of the Slave Trade within the limits of this Station, I am determined to pursue the most rigid measures for carrying Their Lordships Instructions on this point into complete effect ; I therefore deem it an essential part of my duty to call upon you in the most impressive manner to evince your greatest vigilance and zeal in seconding and carrying out my determination, and I wish you to understand that I shall enhance every opportunity to mark my decided approbation of such instance of activity and spirit displayed by yourselves, your officers and men, in the performance of your duty in this respect, as I may have the satisfaction to observe.-

2. You are respectively furnished by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty with copies of the Treaties and Conventions between H.M. Government and the Governments of other States for the abolition of the iniquitous traffic together with the various Acts of Parliament for carrying them into effect, to the directions and stipulations of which you will, of course, pay the strictest regard ; but I must caution each of you from searching Vessels under the Flag of any nation for which you may not possess the establish signed instructions, especially those under the Flag of France, the conventions with that Government being very different from those with the other European Powers and the Emperor of Brazil.

3. But although it is my duty to warn such of you as are not furnished with the proper instructions and warrants to abstain from searching vessels under the French Flag, you will nevertheless consider it incumbent upon you to apprise me, and also the Commanders authorised to visit them, of all information you may obtain concerning French vessels engaged in the traffic.

4. You are to understand that any ships belonging to the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, or Brazils, which may be captured for illicit trafficking in slaves, are to be sent for adjudication to the following places ; as may be most convenient, according to the situation in which the capture may be made, viz

  • ships of any of the four nations to Sierra Leone, or
  • Spanish ships to the Havannah,
  • Dutch ships to Surinam, and
  • Brazilian ships to Rio Janeiro
Courts having been established at these places for the trial of offences of the above description, committed by vessels of those nations respectively, as above detailed ; vessels under English colours may be sent to and tried at any of the places enumerated.

5. I must now call the attention of those who are furnished with the necessary Warrants and Instructions authorising them to search and detain vessels under the French Flag, to the nature of the duty assigned to them, and impress upon their minds the importance of their using, on the one hand, the most zealous execution for carrying into full effect the object of the two governments in concluding the Conventions, by putting an end to the traffic in slaves carried on in French vessels, and on the other hand of observing the greatest care and vigilance not to exceed the Provisions of the Conventions and Instructions, and not to afford to French Subjects, or to the French Government, any just cause of complaint in regard to their proceedings in the exercise of the powers entrusted to them.-

6. They are to observe that their interference with French vessels is to be confined strictly to a search, in the prescribed manner, and within the prescribed limits, of a Merchant Vessel liable to suspicion in regard to the Traffic in Slaves and to the consequence to the French Authorities at the prescribed place, of one which may be a fit object to be delivered up to them ; and they are carefully to prevent the removal of any article whatsoever of the Ship's Effects, Stores, or Cargo.-

7. The will at all times co-operate cordially and frankly with the Commanders of French Cruisers employed on the same duty.- If on any occasion of visiting or detaining a French Vessel, a French Cruiser should make her appearance, and should desire to take charge of the vessel, they are always readily to give up the same, rather than evince any disposition to claim a right to retain possession of the vessel, or to take her themselves to the French authorities.

8. They are to transmit to me, by every opportunity, for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, Reports of all French Vessels visited or detained by them ; detailing therein the circumstances which have induced them to visit such vessels, and afterwards to release, or detain them, as the case may be.-

Article 5

Whilst the foregoing articles will, I hope, serve to guide you in some of the leading duties you will be called upon to perform, I deem it desirable to give you a few brief directions regarding other point which, though of less prominent importance, are fully entitled to your consideration. The first of these, to which I shall refer, is the subject of :


You are to take every precaution in your power for the general preservation of the heal of your respective ship's companies, as upon that will in a great degree depend their efficiency and fitness for Service. The Officer and Men are to be prohibited from sleeping on shore in unhealthy places, or cutting wood, or doing any of the work on shore which the natives can be hired to do at a reasonable expense ; and where any of the men are recovering from sickness they should be excused from duty as much as possible, until they are perfectly recovered.-

Article 6


Complaints having been made that Treasure has been shipped on board H.M. ships contrary to the Regulations of some of the States of the Eastern Coast of South America, and it being of great importance, not only that no just cause for offence should be given to any of the Governments with which the Ships under your command may be in communication, but also that none of H.M. officer should be engaged in such transactions, it is my positive directions that all established Regulations with respect to the shipment of Treasure be strictly complied with, and that none shall be brought on board, whither by the boats of your respective ships or otherwise, without being regularly permitted from the Custom House of the Port whence the shipment is made ; or, if there be no Custom House, from the Authorities under which such Port may be placed.

Article 7

Merchant Seamen

1. Seamen are never to be entered or received from Merchant Vessels so as to leave such vessels to weak handed to pursue their voyage ; and you are on no consideration, except in cases of actual mutiny to interfere with the quarrels or disputes between masters of merchant vessels and their men ; beyond advice or remonstrances ; the Civil law being open to both parties.

2. You are to observe much caution in receiving men from Foreign Merchant Ships, who may represent themselves or be reported as deserters from H.M. Navy ; nor any of the other seamen to be allowed to enter from such foreign ships, whose engagements therein have not terminated, unless with the consent of the master of the vessel in which they may be so employed.

Article 8

Secondary Punishments

I am by no means desirous of interfering unnecessarily with the internal discipline established on board your respective ships, for I feel disposed to place much reliance upon your prudence and experience ; yet, in order that I may be enabled to form a just opinion on the relative extent of Corporal Punishment at the Gangway, whilst reporting from time to time upon the subject to the Lords Commissioner of the Admiralty, I must request that a statement may be forwarded to me, as early as convenient, of the nature and extent of the Secondary punishments, if any, which are in operation on board, with your opinions as to their practical efficacy in the prevention of crime.

Article 9

Discharge with Disgrace

1. The very serious punishment of dismissing a man with disgrace from H.M. Service, being capable, if judiciously applied, of producing the most salutary effects, I invite you to join me in a sincere desire of rendering if available, as far as possible, to the efficiency, discipline, and high reputation of the Squadron. With this view you will be strictly impartial and minute in the investigations you are bound to make personally, as to the real conduct and character of the persons for whose discharge with disgrace you intend to apply, stating very fully in your letter of application to me, the whole facts of the case : one indispensable feature of which must be that the delinquent have been previously punished, at least once at the Gangway for their Misconduct. Their respective rating, age, and length of service must also be stated.

2. The moment my mind shall be satisfied in all respects as to the justice of the representation and the expediency of complying with your request, I shall order the discharge ; because I am determines by purifying the Squadron of worthless and incorrigible characters, to render the source as far as depends upon me, an object of laudable pride and ambition to the meritorious and deserving.

Article 10

Reports of Proceedings

I need not remind you how desirable and important it is that I should be kept as fully and early as possible acquainted with the position and actual duties of those ships of the Squadron which may be employed upon detached Service, you will not therefore fail, whilst respectively so detached, to apprize me by every proper conveyance of your proceedings and intentions in execution of your orders ; and you are upon rejoining me from any special service, to transmit for my information, a concise report, in details, of the manner in which it has been performed with any other intelligence which you may have collected, likely to be of even the least consequence to the public interest.

Article 11


1. Copies of all correspondence on Service are to be forwarded to me without delay ; and upon you ships rejoining my flag a list of all the letter which you have written to me during your separation, is to be delivered with the other Returns, so that I may know whether such letters have been received.

2. In sending communications of importance by doubtful conveyances, the number of the vocabulary signals are to be used instead of words<./p>

Article 12


It would be easy to multiply Article upon Article without end, regarding the almost innumerable public duties which we are all liable to be called upon to perform ; but referring to the Queen's Regulations and the General Instructions [much of this bit being unreadable] but he seems to be suggesting that combined with the regulations available and using their intelligence I rest satisfied that no effort will be wanting to conduct at all times the Service of the Country.....something something with promptitude and effect.
Given on board the Southampton at Rio de Janeiro 16 Nov 1840 Sgd E.D. King. &c.

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