Arrival of the US slave transport Creole at the Bahamas

Govt House, Bahamas,

18 Nov 1841,

Letter to V.-Adm Sir Charles Adams, KCB, Flag Officer on the Jamaica Station,

Sir, A circumstance of a difficult and delicate nature has lately occurred here by the arrival of an American brig called the Creole in the harbour of Nassau with 135 slaves on board I was informed by the mate, the American Consul having brought him to me immediately the vessel anchored, that the Creole sailed from Hampton Roads with 135 slaves on board for New Orleans, that all went quietly till the night of the 7th inst when about 9 o'clock, being then hove to, knowing they were in the vicinity of, but not knowing their exact distance from, when the slaves rose upon the crew and murdered one of the passengers and threw him overboard, and dangerously wounded, the master and first mate and some others and took possession of the vessel, which the mate, to save his own life, and the whites on board consented to bring to a British Island under this statement and on the application of the American Consul to prevent any of the slaves launching from the Creole until an investigation could take place.

I agreed, after much consideration, to comply with the Consul's request, stating to him at the time that I would take into custody and detain until I received instructions from my Govt for their future disposal of the Negroes as appeared on investigation to have been concerned in the murder or other acts of violence, but that could not interfere in any way with the others when the investigation was ended. To this arrangement, the Consul making no objection, examinations were ordered to be made accordingly, and at the whole of which the Consul was present.

The examinations were known throughout the Town, to have finished on the afternoon of the 12th, and on the morning of the 13th some of the inhabitants, but confined to the Blacks and Coloured, went off in their boats, doubtless with an intention, when the guard was withdrawn and the culprits taken on shore, of assisting those in landing against whom there was no accusation. Previous to the culprits being taken out of the Creole it was explained to those who were to remain, that it had been necessary to detain the whole on board so that inquiry could be made concerning the murder, but that immediately the investigation having been completed, all further interference would cease, and shortly after several Boats of the Town went alongside and the Negroes of the Creole availed themselves thereof to land.

On the 15th I received a letter from Mr Bacon? a copy of which, as also my reply thereto I enclose herewith. I feel every confidence that the [course] I have adopted will be approved and confirmed by Mr [unreadable] and I do not consider there is grounds to the shadow of a complaint on the part of the American [.], but as it is impossible to say what view [they] might adopt, or what course they might think fit to pursue. I should consider it desirable if a vessel of war could be afforded this station for a short time. I have, of course, furnnished Lord Stanley and Mr Fox HM's Minister for Washington with the fullest information on all that has occurred.

F.Cockburn, Gov.

This and more can be found at about page 311 (229) in FO 84-437 Admiralty Letters 1842 Jan., available at the national archives for free download

Regret the handwriting was on occasion difficult to read, but have made the best job of it that I can, sometimes substituting what appears to be the most suitable word for the unreadable.

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