* Home * Loney home * Life & career * Documents * Album * Ships * Portrait * Uniform * Background * * Search this site *
William Loney RN - Background  


Dr. Kirk to Earl Granville.- (Received July 1.)

Zanzibar, June 5, 1873.


ON receipt of your Lordship's orders, which reached me on June 2, I asked for an interview with His Highness Seyd Burgash, at which I desired his Council might be present.

By appointment on the following morning, the 3rd, I went to the palace unattended, but with your Lordship's orders in my hand, and was met by His Highness and a Council of the most influential men of rank, whose names are marginally noted.

After reading the first paragraphs of your Lordship's instructions, I explained to the Sultan and his advisers what a blockade implied, and particularly pointed. out that it would affect not his vessels alone, but our own, together with those under the French, German, American, or other flags; and that from the day the blockade was established, no ships whatever would be allowed to communicate with the Island, and no cargo but any previously shipped permitted to be taken away.

His Highness objected that this was not the way to make a Treaty - by force. I explained that many Treaties were only signed when one of the parties concerned had been subdued, but none the less was a Treaty under such circumstances considered binding, and I instanced the late French war as a case in which a complete Treaty was only obtained after the siege of Paris, remarking that the blockade of an island was a process similar to the siege of a town; however, I must assure His Highness that I had not come to discuss but to dictate, and that it remained for him either to accept the present terms in their full integrity, and in anticipation of the arrival of the fleet, or to subject his people to the ruinous results of a rigorous blockade. On this occasion I hoped sincerely the Council would not commit the dangerous fault of misdirecting the Sultan. I had requested the presence of its members for the express purpose of placing responsibility on their shoulders, lest at any future time it should please them to turn on their Chief and accuse him of want of foresight in not yielding at such a crisis, when further resistance became almost a criminal act. What had now taken place arose solely from the error they themselves had committed in advising His Highness to reject the advice of Sir Bartle Frere, and I knew well, if once the blockade were established, unless their personal assistance at this interview was not a matter of public notoriety, they would be the very first to shift all blame upon the Sultan.

Knowing their hopes of causing delay, I clearly assured them that what I came armed, with now was an ultimatum, and non-acceptance involved war, that was, a blockade; such war only as England could carry on with so defenceless a State as Zanzibar, and with whose Ruler, moreover, she was in friendly relations on all matters save the one exception of the suppression of the Slave Trade.

This last remark closed the interview, and on my return I furnished. the Sultan, at his request, with a copy in Arabic of your Lordship's orders (as far as I had read them at my visit), and I also annexed a formal demand for the speedy signature of the Treaty.

The same evening His Highness intimated a wish to call upon me at the Agency, but having guests in the house at the time, and feeling more at freedom to address the Seyd under his own roof, I suggested my going to the palace.

On my arrival there the complete change which had taken place in the policy of His Highness was evident in a moment. His councillors were no longer silent, but, accepting the responsibility I had forced upon them, entered into a keen discussion, which lasted upwards of an hour and a-half, and was directed to discover, in the first place, whether there was any flaw in my powers to act, and in the second whether I held authority, as Sir Bartle Frere did, to modify the terms or text of the Treaty.

I kept constantly before the Assembly my actual position. I had a simple message to communicate, without discussion of its merits; two alternatives were before them, acceptance of the Treaty or refusal, by allowing time for the arrival of the fleet, and I warned them that, on learning the non-compliance of His Highness with the request of Her Majesty's Government, the Admiral would know what steps to adopt, irrespectively in every way of anything I might wish to say on the subject.

Throughout this interview the greatest courtesy and deference was shown to me, and conversation was open and unreserved on both sides. I left thoroughly convinced that, but for some unforeseen incident, my object was gained, and the more so that I had placed the position clearly before His Highness' secret and powerful advisers, and, as I believed, convinced them of the extreme danger of further delay.

Fearing a protracted discussion, I now returned a transcript of the Treaty (carefully preserving an exact copy for my guidance), with the additional clause inserted, and such alterations as to dates and names as was manifestly needed, and informed the Sultan that the only answer required was his consent to sign such amended Treaty, any other reply would not delay our action for a moment.

I was subsequently asked to come in the evening. All the Council, including the three Matawah and some others of the Al-bu-Sacedi, who had not been present before in the discussion of the question, were with the Sultan, who opened matters by saying that they wished for some explanatory information, but that a final answer should be given me before leaving the palace.

The additional clause inserted in the 1st Article of the Treaty I had rendered, so they said, so as to make it obligatory on the Zanzibar Government to effect the complete suspension of the Traffic, and it was an open matter, should there be an evasion of the new law, to throw blame on them from the one fact that in such an instance the trade had not been successfully suppressed; they might be free from all guilty connivance, and might have used all means at their disposal to anticipate and stop shipment, but still the fault, and perhaps its punishment, might fall upon them.

I informed His Highness that I conceived the aim of this additional clause to be the insurance of a guarantee that His Highness would be bound to use his utmost endeavours to stop the trade, and was rendered necessary because this was a Treaty, not granted from conviction of justice or friendship, or an alliance of feeling, but enforced as a matter of expediency by proceedings equal to war, and such a clause was necessary to prevent his saying, "You have got your Treaty by force; enforce it yourself, I will do nothing."

The Sultan replied that he accepted the full meaning, and only wished to guard against the possibility of such an eventuality as he had just alluded to, and after some discussion on this head, I consented to add to the insertion directed by your Lordship, which runs as follows: "The Sultan engages to take effectual measures within all parts of his dominions to prevent and suppress the same" - the words "to the utmost of his powers."

His Highness then proceeded to ask what position an old domestic slave would be in now, if accompanying his master to the coast? I replied, that to my apprehension, he would be exactly on the same footing as slaves now are who travel with their masters to Aden, Mecca, Bombay, or elsewhere. If he goes of his own free will no fault can be found.

The next question put was an inquiry how slaves would be regarded who might escape to the mainland. I said, that as runaway slaves, they could not be touched or returned to Zanzibar under the new Treaty, unless guilty as criminals by any Act, such as theft, which would bring them under the law.

"Now I understand," said the Sultan, " you may consider the Treaty signed, and to-morrow I will name my agent, and I will ratify the deed with my own hand."

Dr. Kirk to the Sultan of Zanzibar.

Zanzibar, June 3, 1873


AT the interview I had with your Highness this morning, I had the honour to inform you that a communication had reached me from Lord Granville, in which I am ordered to demand your Highness' acceptance and signature to a Treaty, similar in purport to the Treaty which was presented to you by his Excellency Sir Bartle Frere, on inserting in the first Article one additional clause.

Your Highness thereupon desired me to furnish you with a copy of the extract from Lord Granville's despatch, which was then read to you.

I have now the honour to forward a copy and an Arabic translation of that portion of his Lordship's letter which it is, as yet, my duty to lay before you, and to require your Highness' immediate compliance therewith.

You will be pleased to observe, that on the arrival of Admiral Cumming, failing the receipt of your favourable reply, the naval officers hold instructions to establish the blockade of the Island of Zanzibar, and enforce it according to the Law of Nations.

I have, &c.

(Signed) JOHN KIRK.

Dr. Kirk to Earl Granville. - (Received July 1.)

Zanzibar, June 6, 1873.


I HAVE the honour to report that yesterday afternoon His Highness Seyed Burgash ratified the new Treaty for the total abolition of the Slave Trade in his dominions which had been signed by Seyd Naser bin Saeed the same day on his behalf, and by me on the part of Her Majesty the Queen.

I shall await your Lordship's orders and directions in what way the copy I retain for His Highness will be ratified on the part of Her Majesty, and whether any formal powers are needed before doing so.

The copy ratified by His Highness I shall send to London by the first safe occasion.

Dr. Kirk to Earl Granville.- (Received July 1.)

Zanzibar, June 6, 1873.


I HAVE decided on availing myself of the offer of Captain Malcolm, the Senior Officer on this Station, and sending the new Slave Treaty, in original, signed on the part of Her Majesty by me, and ratified by His Highness Seyed Burgash, by the hand of Lieutenant Augustus Hamilton, R.N., who has been detached from his vessel, Her Majesty's ship "Briton," for this special duty.

Lieutenant Hamilton is an officer highly recommended by Captain Malcolm, and one who has been engaged in keeping up that effective boat blockade of the coast against the Slave Trade which has been the principal means of forcing His Highness to yield now to our demands, without awaiting the more hostile measures that otherwise would have become necessary.

I trust the course now followed. in insuring the safe arrival of this valuable deed will be approved.

Dr. Kirk to Earl Granville.- (Received July 1.)

Zanzibar, June 6, 1873.

My Lord,

I HAVE the honour to report that yesterday afternoon, in accordance with the IInd Article of the Slave Treaty signed on that date, the public slave-market in Zanzibar was cleared by order of His Highness Seyed Burgash, and closed.

I have, &c.
(Signed) JOHN KIRK.

Dr. Kirk to Earl Granville. - (Received June 29.)

Zanzibar, June 6, 1873.

My Lord,

I HAVE the honour to enclose herewith the new Slave Treaty, signed and ratified on the part of the Sultan yesterday.

I have for safety placed it in the hands of Lieutenant Hamilton, R.N,, who will deliver it on arrival to your Lordship, and I trust that the course followed will meet with your Lordship's approval.

I have, &c.
(Signed) JOHN KIRK.


Valid HTML 4.0