BONHAMS MARKS 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF ABOLITION OF SLAVERY WITH SALE OF RARE ARTEFACT

. March 12, 2007

An incredibly rare and important logbook from the slave schooner ‘Juverna’, which sailed between Liverpool, West African and Surinam during 1804-1805, will be sold by Bonhams just days before the 200th anniversary since the abolition of slavery. The sale of Marine Works of Art and Scientific Instruments will be held on March 21st, 2007, in Knightsbridge, London.

The detailed daily logbook, written in the hand of Master Robert Lewis, records the winds, courses, weather conditions as well as general observations on a classic ‘Triangular Trade’ slaving expedition from England less than two years before the abolition of slavery and in the midst of the Napoleonic War. It is expected to fetch in £2,000-3,000.

On July 29th 1804, the newly built 82 ton schooner “Juverna”, commanded of Master Robert Lewis, left Liverpool with a cargo of salt bound for the Bight of Benin on the first leg of a voyage in the notorious ‘Triangular Trade’.

At the height of the Napoleonic War, with Nelson blockading the French Fleet, she made an uneventful passage south to West Africa; apart from the loss of one seaman overboard, anchoring off Old Calibar after 48 days, just astern of her owner’s mother ship “Intrepid”.

At Calibar and the Cameroon River, over a period of 14 weeks, “Juverna” took on board a mixed male/female cargo of 110 slaves, 108 of which survived to sail for the Americas in late December. She was accompanied for safety by the much larger “Intrepid”, herself laden with a human cargo of 343 souls.

This small fleet sailed across the Atlantic to Paramaribo in Surinam (Dutch Guiana), with a short stop on Princes Island to replenish supplies and to allow the slaves ashore to wash. Of the human cargo on board “Juverna”, 19 losses were reported, while 21 souls perished on “Intrepid” – mostly from dysentery.

At Surinam, the cargo was quickly disposed of. The ship’s doctor, who had borne the brunt of the care of the human cargo during the voyage, soon deserted, followed by a further nine seamen, a significant amount from a crew only numbering 16 in total.

As the slaves went ashore, they were rapidly replaced by her return cargo of coffee and cotton, all marked with the monogram of her owner, Henry Clarke, and on June 19th, 1805, “Juverna” departed for Liverpool in convoy with several other ships due to the possibility of a French squadron cruising off the coast.

The re-crossing of the Atlantic was uneventful until “Juverna” was chased and finally hove-to by HMS “Leander”, 50 guns, who after examining her papers impressed one of her already diminished crew. Another frigate, HMS “Aeolius” boarded her again later, but left the crew alone and “Juverna” finally returned safely to her home port on July 23rd.

Robert Lewis did not make another slave voyage, but “Juverna” herself, with a new master left Liverpool again in November, bound again for West Africa.

In a sobering reflection of the troubled times, around January 26th 1806, off the West African coast and in company with five other ships (presumably all on the same errand) she was captured by a French squadron led by the “Regulus” and disappears from the records, all the crews being transferred to the “Active” of London, who landed them safely at Waterford.

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