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Her Majesty’s Commissioners to Viscount Palmerston.

Sierra Leone, July 1, 1840.
(Received November 11.)

MY LORD,

HER Majesty’s sloop "Wanderer," Commander the Hon. Joseph Denman, captured at the Gallinas, on the 3rd ultimo, the schooner named the "São Paolo de Loando," Mariano Sgitcovich, master, on suspicion of her being Spanish property, although bearing the flag of Portugal; and, being equipped for the Slave Trade, sent her to this port for adjudication.

The proceedings against this vessel were commenced in the British and Spanish Mixed Court on the 11th ultimo, and terminated on the 18th, when a sentence of condemnation was pronounced upon her for the reasons set forth in our report of the case, which we have now the honour to enclose to your Lordship.

This vessel was built in Cuba about 18 months since, and was owned by Martin Lasquibar, a Spanish merchant of Havana, who made an ostensible transfer of her in March last to José dos Reis, who is stated to be a Portuguese subject, and to have resided at Havana for the last 12 months. To this transfer the Portuguese pro-Consul at Havana, Mr. Pasqual Pluma, was a party; and in virtue of this alleged Portuguese ownership he granted a passport to proceed to the Cape Verd Islands, in open violation of the 2nd Article of the Portuguese Decree of the 10th January, 1837, which plainly forbids any other foreign-built vessels than steamers being placed under the national flag after that date. This we have considered so glaring an abuse of the Consul’s authority, that we have transmitted herewith certified copies of the bill of sale of the vessel and the Consul’s passport, and beg leave to draw your Lordship’s particular attention to the same.

Mariano Sgitcovich, the Austrian, who acted as the captain of the Portuguese flag in this case, held a precisely similar appointment on board the Portuguese brig "Matilde," condemned in the British and Spanish Mixed Court here in March last year,

We have, &c.,

(Signed)WALTER W. LEWIS,
 R. DOHERTY.

The Right Hon. Viscount Palmerston, G.C.B.,
&c. &c. &c


First Enclosure.

Report of the case of the schooner " São Paola de Loando," Mariano Sgitcovich, Master.

Sierra Leone, July 1, 1840.

AT the time of the detention of this vessel she was sailing under the flag of Portugal, and was furnished with the following official papers: -

  1. Passport.
  2. Muster-roll.
  3. Custom’s clearance.
  4. Bill of Sale of the vessel.

From which documents it appeared, that on the 27th of March, 1840, Martin Lasquibar, a merchant of Havana, sold in that city to José dos Reis, of Oporto, the Spanish built schooner "São Paolo de Loando," for 7000 dollars; the transfer taking place, and the bill of sale being executed in the presence of Mr. Pasqual Pluma, pro-Consul for Portugal.

On this change of ownership, Mr. Consul Pluma granted a Portuguese passport for the vessel to proceed to the Cape Verd Islands; the particulars of which it is not necessary here to give, as a certified copy of the translation of this document, as well as of the bill of sale, will be transmitted with this report.

Six days after issuing the passport for this vessel, which described her as proceeding to the Cape Verd Islands, Mr. Consul Pluma certified the muster-roll of the schooner, which stated she was bound direct for Gallinas, with a crew of 17 persons; and one African, and two Spanish passengers. The schooner was cleared at the Custom-house, at Havana, for Gallinas, on the 14th of April, l840, and embarked only a few necessary supplies for the crew.

The log-book showed that the detained vessel proceeded from Havana direct to the Gallinas, taking no notice whatever of the destination assigned in the Consul’s passport.

There were five private papers also found on board of the schooner when seized, two of which only proved to be of any interest. The two papers alluded to were letters, one of which was from Pedro Zalduendo, the Spanish passenger, to Pablo Alvarez of Gallinas, notifying the arrival of the schooner at that place for a cargo of 360 to 380 slaves, in addition to 20 which Zalduendo desired on his private account. From the writer’s statement it appeared the slave equipment of the vessel was complete on his arrival at Gallinas, water only being required to replace that used by the crew on the outward voyage. This vessel must, therefore, have left Havana unlawfully equipped, as she was captured at the Gallinas before she had had time even to land the passengers. Zalduendo conveyed to Alvarez the approbation of his correspondents at Havana, Messrs. Yriarte arid Yrigoyen, in respect to the manner in which he carried on their business at the Gallinas. From this letter it appeared that the entire management of the affairs of the vessel was placed in the hands of Zalduendo.

The other letter to which we have above alluded was from Pablo Alvarez to Francisco Rocosa of Havana, and bore date at Gallinas the 17th of August, l839. The following is a copy of the translation of that letter.

"As yet nothing has taken place here without my having made you acquainted with it. I have now to tell you, that the brig ‘Wyoming’ was captured whilst on her return from the Plantains, and that the moment I learnt it I dispatched my agent to Sierra Leone with 2000 dollars, having first appointed him as supercargo, to make the best possible defence with a view to getting the vessel clear; however I regret to say all these endeavours have been in vain, as instead of the vessel being sent as usual to that port where I supposed she would have gone, they took her to New York. I have already written to Messrs. Yriarte and Yrigoyen, acquainting them of the deficiency in the cargo of a case of chintz, and also that she had on board at the time of capture six quarter-casks of spirits, eight iron-boilers, one bale, and one case of tobacco. Don Pedro de Zalduendo will be the bearer of this, and he will be able to inform you of all that has occurred with reference to the capture of the vessel. I hope that within a month and a half from the receipt of this that you will send me a vessel for the produce of the factory, which was originally put aside for the ‘Wyoming,’ and was all ready for embarkation.

"I must now advise you, that whatever vessels you may send, the masters of them must be instructed, whenever they make their appearance, not to anchor, and that they should carry at the foretop-masthead, a white flag with a blue square in the centre, and that it should be large so as the better to enable us to distinguish it afar off when we shall know what the vessel is, and at once ship the cargo and send it out outside. Whatever Don Pedro de Zalduendo may tell you with respect to the continuance of the contest at Little Bassa, it is in vain to endeavour to put a stop to it, or indeed to have anything to say in it, because all is now pretty well left in the hands of the French."

The brig "Wyoming," alluded to in the foregoing letter, is a vessel which sailed from Havana under the colours of the United States, on the 6th March, 1839, bound to Little Bassa, and was captured by one of Her Majesty’s cruisers off the Gallinas, the commander of which sent the "Wyoming" to New York to be dealt with as an American by the Government of the United States, the result of which proceedings have for some time past been before Her Majesty’s Government. From this letter it may fairly be inferred that the brig "Wyoming" was one of the many vessels now employed under the United States flag for carrying on the Slave Trade of Cuba.

The " São Paolo de Loundo" arrived in this harbour on the 7th of June ultimo, and was visited and reported upon by the Marshal to the Mixed Courts.

On the following 11th the papers of this vessel were filed in the British and Spanish Mixed Court, having first been duly authenticated by the prize-officer; the captor’s declaration was received and filed; the usual monition issued, and the witnesses ordered for examination.

The declaration of the captor was as follows: -" I, the Honourable Joseph Denman, commander of Her Britannic Majesty’s sloop 'Wanderer,’ hereby declare that on this 3rd day of June instant, being off the Gallinas, I detained the Spanish schooner named the ‘São Paolo de Loando' sailing under Portuguese colours, commanded by Mariano Sgitcovich, who declared her to be bound from Havana to Gallinas, with a crew consisting of 17 men and one passenger, whose names, as declared by them respectively, are inserted in a list at foot hereof, and having on board no slaves.

" I do further declare that the said vessel is perfectly equipped for the reception of a cargo of slaves, and that she is as such seizable under the Spanish Treaty."

On the 12th ultimo, Mariano Sgitcovich, the Master of this vessel, was examined by the Registrar. He deposed that "he was born at Ombla, in the province of Ragusa, in the Austrian dominions. Is a subject of Austria, and has never been subject of any other state. Is not married. He was appointed to the command by José Reis, a subject of Portugal living at Havana. Received possession there from the same person, on the 30th day of April last. First saw the vessel at Havana while she was building there, a year and a half ago. He was present at the capture. Does not know why it took place. The vessel sailed under Portuguese colours, and there were no others on board. The vessel is called the 'São Paolo de Loando.’ She never bore another name. Thinks she is of 76 tons burthen. There were 16 officers and mariners, exclusive of witness - three of them Spaniards and the remainder Portuguese, all hired and shipped by witness at Havana on the 3rd of the month ultimo. Neither he nor any of the officers or mariners had any interest in the vessel or her lading. Was Master on board. There were three passengers two belonging to the cabin, named Pedro Sandundo (Zalduendo), a Spaniard and trader; and Paolo, the son of a king at Gallinas, and of no profession; and the third a Portuguese carpenter, called Juan: all three taken on board at Havana on the 16th ultimo, and destined to Gallinas; witness does not know on what business. None of them had any interest or authority in or over the vessel or her cargo. The voyage began and was to end at Havana, which was the last clearing port. The vessel touched at Gallinas to land the passengers, but capture took place before this could be done. That at nine o’clock on the morning of the 3rd or 4th instant, three hours before the detained vessel anchored at Gallinas, the capturing ship was first seen. Capture took place, after anchoring, at two o’clock. Was steering towards Gallinas when first pursued. The course was not altered nor any additional sail made. The course prescribed by the papers was always adhered to when the weather would permit. No guns are mounted on board, but there were 16 cutlasses, 16 muskets, and 25 pounds of ammunition for defence against pirates. No resistance was made to capture, nor were there any instructions for resisting or avoiding capture, or for concealing or destroying the vessel’s papers. Jozé Reis, from whom he received command and possession, is the sole owner of the vessel, so far as witness knows. Was present when he bought her. He (Reis) has resided and carried on business at Havana during one year. Does not know where he resided before, but knew him 18 years ago at Lisbon. A bill of sale was made by a Spaniard, the former owner, whose name is unknown to witness. Does not know in whose presence it was made. Last saw it on board the vessel, and it is among the papers delivered up. The price was 7,000 dollars. It was paid, and was a fair equivalent. The transfer was a true one, and there were no private agreements. There was no cargo. He does not know what was the lading on the last voyage. The passports and other papers were all true and fair. None of the papers were destroyed, concealed, or made away with. There are no writings relating to vessel or cargo in any other country. There was no charter-party, He does not know if the vessel or goods were insured. With respect to her employment in trade the vessel was under the management of witness."

The illegal equipment of the schooner the Master freely admitted, in respect to hatches and hatchbars; a nearly complete slave-deck laid fore and aft in her hold; water-casks, mess-kits, and rice and calavances. These articles he explained "were found on board the vessel when she was purchased, and have been allowed to remain without any specific object."

The cook’s evidence was entirely corroborative of that of the Master, with the exception of knowing nothing respecting the owner of the vessel.

With these examinations the captor’s case was closed, and publication granted.

The 18th ultimo, being the day on which the monition in the case was returnable, was appointed for the adjudication of the vessel, and the Court met accordingly.

In giving judgment, the Court stated that it would attach no importance to the Portuguese passport granted to this vessel by the Pro-Consul for Portugal at Havana, as it had plainly been obtained for the purpose of covering her Spanish character, and a Spanish adventure. For it had been proved that the detained schooner was built at Havana; that she was originally owned by a Spanish resident there, who had ostensibly sold her to an established Portuguese resident in that city; and that she was fitted out at Havana, and was destined to return to that port with a cargo of slaves.

A more complete case of Spanish nationality the Court thought the captors could hardly have desired to establish; and the unlawful equipment having been freely admitted, a sentence of condemnation was accordingly passed on the schooner and everything seized on board of her.

(Signed)WALTER W. LEWIS,
 R. DOHERTY.

Second Enclosure

Bill of Sale and Consular Passport.
[Arms.]

BILL of Sale which has been made by Don Martin Lasquiva, of the Spanish schooner called the "São Paolo de Loando," to Joze Dos Reis. In the year of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, 1840, and on the 27th day of March of the said year, there appeared at this Consulate General of Tuscany and Portugal, Don Martin Lasquibar, a merchant of this city, and owner of the Spanish schooner called the "São Paolo de Loando," of the burthen of 98 tons, being Spanish-built, and at present at anchor in this port; and Joze Dos Reis, at the same time a subject of Portugal, belonging to the city of Oporto, as the purchaser, in the presence of the witnesses who have hereunto attached their signatures, the said Don Martin Lasquibar declared that he had sold the before-referred-to schooner, with all and everything that belonged to her, including the sails, rigging, and tackling, agreeably to the inventory, for the sum of 7000 Spanish round dollars, to the said Joze dos Reis; from whom he hereby acknowledges to have received the said amount; in consequence of which he resigns from this day and for ever all right and authority in the possession of the before-mentioned schooner, with all and every part of her apparel, sails, boats, oars; the whole of which now belongs to the said Joze dos Reis, who is hereby from this time forward duly and legally constituted the rightful owner, he, the said seller, binding himself to meet any expenses that be now due and that may possibly hereafter be brought against the before-alluded-to schooner. I myself do also hereby declare, that the above-mentioned Joze dos Reis has acted in conformity with all and every part of the contents of this bill of sale, and that he has received over as his property the said schooner "Sao Paolo de Loando," and which will now sail under the Portuguese flag, so as to correspond with himself, and also in the same name; and both these contracting parties having acted in conformity with the foregoing, I have hereunto affixed my signature to this public instrument, together with the several witnesses, one and all knowing them to be the proprietors. And for the purpose that it should be known, I have delivered a copy of this said document, which is already entered in a book appropriated to this purpose at folio 13, also written by myself, and sealed with the Imperial and Royal seal, and it has been duly registered in this registry; - Seller - Martin Lasquibar. Purchaser - Jose dos Reis. Witnesses - Manoel Torras Lluch, J. Jozé de Barrenechea, Jozé Triarte Emfé, the Consul-General of Tuscany and for Portugal.

(L. S.) PASQUAL PLUMA.


[Arms.]

I, PASCAL PLUMA, Consul-General of Tuscany, and in charge of the Consulate of the Portuguese nation in this Island of Cuba:

Be it known that the Portuguese schooner, called the "São Paolo de Loando," Spanish-built, of the burthen of 98 tons, little more or less, and of which Mariano Sgitcovich is the master, and Joze dos Reis, a native of Portugal, and established in the city of Oporto, is the owner, and being about to proceed on a voyage to Santo Iago, for the purpose of obtaining from the authorities of Her Most Faithful Majesty in the town of Praia the necessary documents to enable the said vessel to navigate freely to all parts: although the said schooner has on board, as part of her complement, some foreign persons. And as the said vessel may on her voyage possibly be met or fallen in with by chiefs and officers in command of ships and other vessels belonging to kings, princes, republics, powers, friends and allies of the Crown of Portugal, we hereby request that they will not offer the said vessel any hindrance, but allow her to proceed on her voyage without delay: with the surety that whatever services may be rendered by such powers, it will be returned with the same attention and treatment. And for which purpose I have signed this passport, which goes forth sealed with the Imperial and Royal seal of this Consulate. Havana, this 8th day of April, 1840.

The above-referred-to schooner has also an armament consisting of as follows, which was on board the vessel at the time on her being bought, and which is agreeably to the inventory, viz.: 19 fusees, 15 cutlasses.

(L. S.) (Signed) The Consul-General, PASQUAL PLUMA.

These are to certify that the foregoing are just and true copies of certified translations of the bill of sale and passport of the Portuguese schooner "São Paolo de Loando," whereof Mariano Sgitcovich was master, as appears by the records of the British and Portuguese [this should of course be: Spanish] Court of Mixed Commission established at Sierra Leone, in which the said schooner was condemned.

In faith and testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the Mixed Commissions at Freetown, in the colony of Sierra Leone, this 1st day of July, in the year of our Lord 1840.

(L. S.) (Signed) J. MILLER, Acting Registrar.


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