Mixed Court report on seized 'Republicano'
Mixed Court report on seized 'Republicano'

Royal NavyWest Africa slave trade ► William Loney prizes

Her Majesty's Commissioners to Viscount Palmerston,

Sierra Leone, August 31, 1840.
(Received November 11.)


In our Despatch marked "Brazil," of the 22nd of June last, we had the honour of reporting to your Lordship the condemnation of the brig "Republicano," which vessel was purchased at the Mixed Commission sale for the sum of 160l. (one hundred and sixty pounds) by Nathaniel Hoyt, lately the Master of the condemned slave-vessel "Octavia."

The "Republicano" remained in the possession of Hoyt for some time, and it was understood that he was fitting her out to convey to the Havana the officers and seamen who lately belonged to captured slave ships, and were awaiting an opportunity of leaving this colony.

In the course of the last month, however, it appears he disposed of the brig for the sum of 2,000 dollars = 4331. 6s. 8d. (four hundred and thirty-three pounds six shillings and eightpence) to Felix Marengo, who at once prepared her for sea, and entered her out for a voyage hence to Cadiz with the following cargo, as appears by the Papers at the Custom-house of this port.
"Lot of old spars, planks, and timbers.
Quantity iron kentlidge [= iron ballast].
Two old guns.
Two pieces of chain cable.
Lot old nails and copper pumps, a lantern, &c.
Four leaguers [= water-cask of 159 gallons]."

The brig, in addition to her crew of eleven persons, was to carry five passengers, for whose use the Collector of Customs considered the four leaguers would hold more water than requisite, and accordingly refused to clear out the brig unless one of the casks was landed, or security given for its lawful employment.

The cask was disembarked from the Master's inability to furnish the required security, and the vessel was about to be cleared at the Customs, when the Commander of Her Majesty's sloop "Wanderer," the Honourable Joseph Denman, detained the "Republicano."

The circumstances under which this vessel was seized were explained in Commander Denman's Declaration, as follows: - "That on the 14th day of August, 1840, being in Sierra Leone harbour he detained the Spanish brig named the "Republicano," commanded by Felix Marengo, who was not on board, but her Mate declared her to be bound to Cadiz, with a crew of seven men and four passengers; and that he seized the said vessel under the 10th Article of the Spanish Treaty, for being fitted out and equipped for the Slave Trade."

On the following day, the 15th instant, the detained vessel was brought before the Mixed British and Spanish Court for adjudication in the usual form.

The only ship's Paper in this case was the entry at the Custom-house here, from which the foregoing account of the brig's cargo has been extracted, and which described Felix Marengo as Master and Owner, and the vessel's destination to be Cadiz.

The Master and his Mate were examined by the Registrar on the 17th instant, on the standing and special interrogatories, and from their testimony the foregoing account of this vessel and her proceedings was confirmed. Both witnesses distinctly denied that the brig was illegally equipped in any respect.

At the instance of the Captors the Surveyors to the Court examined and reported upon the equipment of the detained brig. Their Report did not in any way support the charge of illegal equipment which had been made, except so far as the following expression might be considered to do so: - "There was on board a very large quantity of plank, much more than sufficient to form a second deck if required; and also many large spars that might be easily converted into (slave-deck) beams."

The plank and spars alluded to by the Surveyors had formed part of the lately condemned schooner "Adelaide," as the Master stated in his evidence, and which he had purchased at public auction; and which, as we have previously stated, he had duly entered out at the Custom-house as cargo.

On the 18th instant a claim for the vessel and cargo as the sole property of Felix Marengo, a Spanish subject, was presented to the Court, which was ultimately filed on the 21st instant.

No further proceedings were had in the case until the 24th instant, when a joint petition from the Proctors for the Captor and Claimant was presented to the Court, stating that "as the evidence filed in this cause in support of the allegations contained in the seizor's declaration was insufficient to proceed to adjudication upon," they prayed the proceedings might be stayed, and the vessel's Papers be delivered up to the Captor's Proctor for the purpose of restoring the vessel to the Claimant.

As the fittings of this vessel were not of such a questionable character as to lead to the impression of her being intended for the Slave Trade, and that therefore the planks and spars found on board of her might, on a fair interpretation of the object and spirit of the Treaty between Great Britain and Spain, be admitted as forming part of a slaving equipment, we at once granted the prayer of the petition in question.

The only ship's Paper belonging to the brig was accordingly delivered up on the 24th instant, and a receipt for the same taken from the Captor's Proctor.

One of the conditions upon which this vessel was restored was, that the plank on board of her should be landed, which was accordingly done by the Master and Owner.

We cannot avoid entertaining the belief that the "Republicano" is destined in some way to be again employed in the Slave Trade, when we look at the fact that all the persons connected with her, whether as crew or passengers, have been concerned in this traffic; and that her cargo is of little or no value in any market to which it could be taken, excepting the slave marts on this coast, where the planks and spars might prove very serviceable to vessels needing a slave-deck.

The Prize-master, who brought the "Republicano" to this colony, acquainted us that she was a very old leaky vessel, and unsafe, in his opinion, for a voyage to a northern climate. It is hardly probable, therefore, from this circumstance that the Master and Owner would have given four hundred and thirty-three pounds for her, to make an autumnal passage hence to Cadiz, with a cargo under the value of fifty pounds.

The Mate and Boatswain of the brig, Jozé Joaquim Zantana and Antonio Beyzo, came up from the Gallinas to join her. Felix Marengo, the Master and Owner of this vessel, was First Mate of the Portuguese slave-schooner "Olimpa," condemned here on the 26th of May, 1840.

This morning the "Republicano" sailed from this harbour with the declared destination of Cadiz; but it is generally believed here that she is really bound to Bissão, or some other of the slaving ports to the northward.

We have, &c.


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

The original condemnation:

Her Majesty's Commissioners to Viscount Palmerston.

Sierra Leone, June 22, 1840.
(Received September 17.)


We have the honour of acquainting your Lordship that Her Majesty's sloop of war, "Fantôme," under the command of Edward Harris Butterfield, Esq., detained on the 19th of April last the brig "Republicano," sailing under the Montevidean flag, in latitude 25º 21' south, and longitude 12º 48' west, on suspicion of her being Brazilian property and concerned in the Slave Trade.

The detained vessel was sent to this port for adjudication, where she arrived on the 18th ultimo, and on the 20th was presented to the British and Brazilian Court for trial on the grounds above-mentioned; and the proceedings in the case having established that the "Republicano" was entitled to a Brazilian national character, as well as her employment in the Slave Trade, her condemnation was decreed by the Court on the 5th instant.

Our report of this case is herewith transmitted for your Lordship's information.

This vessel, it appeared from the evidence, was formerly called the "Pampeiro," under which name and the Brazilian flag she was long and successfully employed in the Slave Trade of Brazil.

Under her last name of "Republicano," she was also employed in the same unlawful traffic, though bearing the Montevidean flag and pass, and ostensibly bound to the Canaries, with the object of conveying thence a number of colonists to Montevideo.

Luis Antonio de Carvalho e Castro, the master of the slave-ship "Incomprehensivel," condemned here in February 1837, and one of the leading men in the Montevidean company established for conveying slaves into the Republic of the Urruguay [sic] under the name of colonists, was concerned in this vessel, he being represented as her consignee at the Canaries. In this character it is more than probable he would have been found on the vessel reaching the Portuguese possessions in Southern Africa.

The passport granted to this vessel by the Consul for Urruguay at Rio de Janeiro appears to have given to her a more extended destination than was regular; upon which we have remarked in our report of the case. Indeed every facility appears to have been afforded to the planners of this expedition by the Urruguay Consul, as well as by other officials at Rio de Janeiro, as we find that in the short space of one day she was nominally sold, then placed under the Montevidean flag and pass, the Consul's certificate respecting her questionable equipment sought and obtained, a bill of health from the proper authorities furnished, cleared at the Custom-house, and then put to sea.

We have, &c.

(Signed)R. DOHERTY.

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


Report of the Case of the Brig "Republicano," Juan Garcia, Master.

Sierra Leone, June 22, 1840.

THIS vessel, originally Brazilian, was found at the time of her seizure sailing under the flag of the Oriental Republic of the Uruguay, borne on the authority of a passport from the Consul-General of that Republic resident at Rio de Janeiro, and which was issued by that functionary on the 23rd of March, 1840.

The passport set forth that Jozé Garcia had on that day become possessed of the brig, and was at liberty to transport her "to Montevideo or any other part of the Oriental State of the Urruguay." This destination is printed in the form of passport used by the Consul, and no space is left in that printed form for alteration or addition thereto, it being apparently the intention of the Urruguay Government that their Consuls' passes should only authorise vessels purchased by their citizens in foreign ports proceeding direct from such ports to the mother country. The Consul has, however, in this case enlarged the vessel's destination by interlining the words "to the Canaries," in the printed form, a proceeding which seems irregular, and we have in consequence accompanied our report with a copy of the translation of this document.

On obtaining the above-mentioned passport, the Consul was then asked for a certificate respecting the illegal equipment with which this vessel was proceeding to sea; and which was requested in the following terms: - " I, Juan Garcia, captain of the Montevidean brigantine, am about to proceed on a voyage to Montevideo and to the ports of the islands of the Canaries, where a contract has been entered into to receive from that place a number of colonists for the purpose of taking them thence to the port of Montevideo; and, as the brig carries water and other necessary preparations to effect this object, and fearing lest she should be met by any of the English cruisers, and to free her from the possibility of any doubt whatever, should any exist, with reference to the said vessel, as to her destination or voyage being other than legal, I have to make an urgent request that I may be granted a certificate from this Consulate, and feel confident you will, should you deem it correct to do so, permit me to have an authenticated document as to the vessel's destination; and moreover that she is lawfully Montevidean property."

At the foot of this application the Consul at once wrote, "I am satisfied with the prayer of the applicant, who may proceed to his destination;" and he further endorsed the document thus -"I have this day signed this application at the Consulate in the form in which it is usually required;" to which the Consul added his signature and seal of office.

The other official papers of the detained brig consisted of -
A Muster-roll,
A Receipt for Port-dues, and
A Bill of Health,

which were found in the usual form, and bore date, like the passport and petition described, at Rio de Janeiro, on the 23rd March last.

The Muster-roll stated that the vessel was navigated by 16 persons, including the captain, who was the only officer named therein, except the boatswain.

All the papers described the Canaries and Montevideo as the destination of the brig.

The vessel's log-book showed that on sailing from Rio de Janeiro she maintained a direct course for the African possessions of Portugal to the southward of the Equator.

Jozé Garcia, the ostensible owner of the "Republicano," in his instructions to the master, dated at Rio on the 23rd March last, directs him to proceed to the Canaries, and present himself to Luis Antonio de Carvalho e Castro, whose name was particularly alluded to in the case of the Brazilian ship "Incomprehensivel," condemned here in the year 1837. Carvalho, it is stated, will very soon have "a cargo of colonists" ready, with whom the brig is to proceed to Montevideo, and there deliver them over to Juan Carreras, whose orders the master is enjoined strictly to follow.

The remainder of the papers seized on board of this vessel consisted of 67 letters, addressed chiefly to residents of Montevideo, some Brazilian newspapers and pamphlets, and a few loose documents of no importance.

It is somewhat singular that, in the number of letters and papers found in this vessel, there should have been no communication to either of the alleged consignees of the brig at the Canaries or Montevideo.

The letters which had in the first instance been ordered to be translated, proved to be on subjects unconnected with the Slave Trade; and as the evidence received from the witnesses, whilst those letters were under translation, proved sufficient to establish the captor's case against this vessel, we did not feel ourselves at liberty to incur any further expense in translations, although it is very probable some useful information might have been obtained from so large a correspondence, in respect to the plans for introducing slaves at Montevideo under the designation of colonists.

The detained vessel arrived in this harbour as prize to Her Majesty's sloop "Fantôme," on the 18th ultimo, and on the following morning was visited and reported upon by the Marshal to the Mixed Courts.

The papers of this vessel were presented to the British and Brazilian Court of Mixed Commission on the 20th ultimo, and on the following day, having been properly authenticated by the prize-officer, were filed, together with the captor's declaration containing the grounds of seizure. The usual monition was then issued, and the witnesses in preparatory were produced for examination.

The declaration of the captor was as follows: - "I, Edward Harris Butterfield, Commander of Her Britannic Majesty's sloop "Fantôme," hereby declare that on this 12th day of April, 1840, being in or about latitude 25° 21' south, and longitude 12º 48' west, I detained the vessel named the "Republicano," sailing under Montevidean colours, and commanded by Juan Garcia, who declared her to be bound from Rio de Janeiro to the Canaries, with a crew of 18 men, whose names, as declared by them respectively, are inserted in a list at the foot hereof, and being fitted up for the illicit traffic in slaves."

The prize-officer's affidavit, and the petition with the papers, from the captor's proctor, explained that the brig had been detained under the provisions of the treaty between Great Britain and Brazil, the commander of the "Fantôme" believing the captured vessel to be Brazilian property.

On the 23rd ultimo the master of this vessel, Juan Garcia, was examined on the standing interrogatories, and deposed as follows: - " He was born in Montevideo, where he has since lived. Is a citizen of that Republic; and previous to its independence was a subject of Spain. Is not married. He was appointed to the command by José Garcia, residing in, and a citizen of, Montevideo; from whom he received possession (at Rio de Janeiro) in the month of March last. First saw the vessel in Montevideo nine or ten years ago. Does not know where she was built. He was present at the capture, but does not know why it took place. The vessel sailed under Montevidean colours, and there were no others on board. There were 18 officers and mariners, exclusive of the master, five of them Montevideans and the remainder Portuguese; all hired and shipped by witness in the month of March last at Rio de Janeiro. Neither he nor any of the officers or mariners had any interest in the vessel or her lading. The voyage began at Rio de Janeiro, which was the last clearing port, and was to end at Montevideo. The vessel had touched nowhere during the voyage. The capturing ship was first seen in 25° 35' south latitude, and 12º west longitude, on the l2th of April last, at six o'clock in the evening. Capture took place, without chase, at ten o'clock the same night. Was steering at the time for the Canary islands, from which the vessel was to carry emigrants to Montevideo. This route for Montevideo was the course prescribed by the papers; and was always adhered to when the weather would permit. Jozé Garcia, from whom he received command and possession, was the sole owner of the vessel. Knows it, because he is his uncle, and because he, witness, was with him at the time of the purchase, and employed by him to receive over the vessel. He is a native as well as a citizen of Montevideo, and is married; his wife and family are also belonging to and residing in that State. A bill of sale was made by Don Bernardino to this owner in the month of March last at Rio de Janeiro, where Garcia had at that time been for 25 days. Does not know in presence of what witnesses it was made. Last saw it at Rio de Janeiro. The price was three thousand dollars, and was a fair equivalent. The transfer was a true one, and witness verily believes that if restored the vessel will belong to Garcia, and to no other person. The passports and other papers were, and are, all entirely true and fair. None of the papers were destroyed, concealed, or made away with. There are no writings in any other country relating to vessel or cargo. There was no charter-party. He does not know if the vessel or goods were insured. No slave has been put or received on board, for the purpose of the traffic in slaves, during the present voyage."

On the subject of the vessel's equipment the master deposed that "the combings of the hatchways have been pierced; but the holes are plugged up, and planks nailed on outside the combings all round. These, of course, could easily be knocked off, and the plugs driven out. There are about three dozen spare planks on board, twelve feet long, one foot wide, and one inch in thickness, not numbered or fitted to any part of the vessel. They were found in the vessel when she was purchased, and no sale for them having offered, it was of course necessary to retain them on board, where they would have served, at all events, for the passengers from the Canaries to sleep upon. There are leaguers and casks on board, capable of receiving 85 pipes of water in all; and containing 14 or 15 of fresh water at the time of capture, and 20 of salt-water for ballast. There were no tanks or staves. The vessel was supplied with these means of carrying water, partly as a means of ballasting her, and partly to provide for carrying a sufficiency of water for the expected passengers from the Canaries. There was half a barrel of flour, and 32 or 33 bags of farina for the use of the crew."

The evidence of the other witness in preparatory, Ignacio, one of the seamen of the detained brig, was strongly in opposition to the chief points in the testimony of the master. Ignacio swore that "the master was appointed to the command by Jozé Bernardino da Sa, who resides at Rio de Janeiro, and from whom also he (the master) received possession there about four months ago" The vessel "sailed under Montevidean colours, and there was also a Portuguese flag on board, which was hoisted in harbour at Rio de Janeiro, and was intended to be used again in entering that harbour, when the vessel should return with slaves. The vessel is called the "Republicano," which name was given to her immediately before she sailed from Rio. She was previously called the "Pampeiro," under which name witness knew her well. The voyage began at Rio de Janeiro, and was to end at St. Sebastian on the Brazilian coast, to the southward of Rio. The vessel was proceeding to Ambriz for a cargo of slaves, as witness was informed by Senhor Bernardino, who is his master, and by the people of the vessel." This witness also deposed that he is a slave of Don Jozé Bernardino da Sá, and that he knew his master owned the brig "by every circumstance by which he could be assured of such a fact. Don Jozé (Bernardino) was born in Oporto, and has lived in Rio de Janeiro ten years to witness's knowledge. He cannot say whether the papers (of the vessel) be true or false, but they were new papers procured when the vessel changed her name; and if they show any other course than that for the coast, and for Rio de Janeiro in return, they are then false." The witness added, in respect to the vessel's equipment, that the hatches have open gratings, and that the combings of them are bored and plugged up, as the master had described. That the loose plank was intended for a slave-deck. That all the casks on board are filled with fresh-water, which, with the provisions, were shipped for the use of their intended cargo of slaves; and that, during the chase, previous to capture, there were thrown overboard two bags of slave-irons, a large copper-boiler, two or three dozen of mess-kits, and a quantity of jerk-beef.

Publication was granted on the 23rd ultimo, when the captor's proctor petitioned that the witness Ignacio might be examined on special interrogatories, which having been granted, the following additional evidence was obtained from him. That "he had not made any other voyages to Africa in this brig, but on her former voyages the return cargoes to the Brazils consisted of slaves. Four slaves, witness included, were serving on board the brig as seamen, named Joao, Pedro, Bernardo, and Ignacio (the witness), all belonging to Jozé Bernardino da Sá, of Rio de Janeiro."

In support of the evidence given by the witness Ignacio, the proctor for the captors produced Bernardo, another of the slaves of the owner of the brig, and who had been named by Ignacio to be examined on special interrogatories.

Bernardo swore that he "is a native of Mozambique, and was a seaman on board the brig. He knows Jozé Bernardino is the owner of the brig, and that he lives at Rio. Has had every opportunity of knowing that this person is the owner as he, himself, is his slave. The vessel was purchased with his, witness's, knowledge. She sailed on her present voyage from Rio de Janeiro, and was bound to Ambriz, on the Coast of Africa, for slaves; who were to have been landed at St. Sebastian, on the Brazilian Coast. He received this information respecting the cargo and where it was to have been landed from his master, Bernardino. He has made four voyages to Africa in this brig, in all of which the return cargoes consisted of slaves.

This witness corroborated the statements of Ignacio respecting the master having caused to be thrown overboard during the chase a quantity of jerk-beef, mess-kits, and slave-irons and boiler; as well as that there were four slaves belonging to José Bernardino serving on board of this vessel as seamen at the time of her detention.

This closed the captor's case, and publication thereof was granted on application.

On the 29th ultimo, the monition which had been issued on the 22nd was returned into court, certified to have been duly executed.

The fifth instant was appointed for the adjudication of this vessel, on which day the British and Brazilian Court of Mixed Commission met for that purpose.

The evidence of the two negro sailors, Ignacio and Bernardo, was so clear and conclusive as to the real Brazilian ownership of this vessel; her course of Brazilian Slave Trade for the last five voyages; and the intention in the present voyage to engage her in the same traffic; that had their statements been entirely unsupported the Court was of opinion it would have been necessary to act upon them in preference to the testimony of the master, and such evidence as the official papers of the brig might be presumed to afford. When, however, the Court found that the evidence of the two sailors was strongly supported by a fair and just construction of the circumstances under which the Montevideo pass, and the certificate concerning the unlawful equipment, had been sought for by those interested in the vessel, and granted by the Uruguay Consul at Rio de Janeiro; that the notorious Luis Antonio de Carvalho, whose interest in the importation of slaves into Montevideo, under the name of Colonists, was years since exposed, was concerned in the present expedition; the total disregard of the destination assigned in the official papers, and the adoption of a direct route for the notorious Portuguese slave-marts on the .African Coast to the south of the line, it could not do otherwise than reject the evidence of the master and the vessel's Montevidean papers. The Court accordingly pronounced that the brig had been only nominally transferred from the Brazilian flag to that of Montevideo, and that she still retained her Brazilian national character, and it having been satisfactorily proved that she was concerned in the Slave Trade at the time of her detention, a sentence of condemnation of the brig was in consequence passed.




DON Antonio Jozé de Olivera Campos, Consul-General of the Oriental Republic of the Uruguay, in the court and empire of Brazil, &c. &c. &c. By this present, and by virtue of the authority which is vested in me by my Government, I do hereby grant this passport to Don Jozé Garcia, for the national brigantine called the "Republicano," of the burthen of 144 tons, which he has this day obtained as his property, by a purchase which has been legally effected by him, and he is accordingly hereby fully authorized to transport the said vessel to the port of Montevideo or any other port of the Oriental State of Uruguay, to the Canaries, under the command of Captain Don Juan Garcia, with the crew agreeably to the muster-roll, and for the purpose of making a passage to that port.

And to which end this said passport has been duly signed by me, and sealed with the seal of this Consulate-General.

Given at Rio de Janeiro this 23rd day of the month of March, 1840.

The Consul-General,

By order, [L.S.]
Registered in the account-book.


Note.— The words here underlined are in the original passport in writing, all the other words being printed. The interlined words "to the Canaries" are so interlined in the original.

(Signed) J. MILLER, Acting Register.

These are to certify that the foregoing is a just and true copy of a certified translation of the original passport, filed in the British and Brazilian Court of Mixed Commission established at Sierra Leone, in the case of the brig "Republicano," whereof Juan Garcia was master, as appears by the records of the said Court.

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 22nd day of June, in the year of our Lord 1840.

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

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