7
7
Matthews, John
ARCHIVE OF FOUR SHIPS'S JOURNALS AND RELATED PAPERS:
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 65,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
7
Matthews, John
ARCHIVE OF FOUR SHIPS'S JOURNALS AND RELATED PAPERS:
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 65,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of Darwin

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London

Matthews, John
ARCHIVE OF FOUR SHIPS'S JOURNALS AND RELATED PAPERS:
i) "Journal of my particular proceedings when detach'd from or acting seperate [sic] from my Colleage Mr. Wm: Harrison", detailing his activities whilst employed in the slave trade at Sierra Leone, including extensive travel in the region, especially to the Banana Islands and inland upriver from Sherbro on the Deong (Jong) River, also the purchase of goods and merchandise, and negotiations with other slavers and with regional rulers involved in the trade, with significant detail on the impact of local wars and Matthew's involvement in negotiating peace between two local kingdoms, with "Directions for going up to York Island from Jenkins in the River Sherbro", 35 pages, 28 April 1785 to 15 May 1787, with, written from the back, retained copies of four letters by Matthews, Deong and York Island, Sierra Leone, 4 pages, 20-25 April 1787, altogether 39 pages plus blanks, folio, paper wrappers, also with, loosely inserted, five documents relating to Matthew's journey up the Deong River including draft agreements for compensation from the Kings of Sherrbo, 1787 

ii) Ship's Journal, when employed on the African coast by the Africa Company, detailing his work stocking ships with slaves and preparing them for the trans-Atlantic passage ("...Sunday 9 April 1786 This Morning about 9 o'clock came along side the Hazard Harry Canoe with Rice & 8 Slaves, Six of which accepted, the other two, likewise the Rice being bad wou'd not take..."), 80 pages, plus blanks, folio, 1 April 1786 to 31 March 1787

iii) "Journal of Proceedings on board his Majesty's Fire ship Vulcan Commencing May 1793", commencing with his appointment as captain on 3 May, the ship weighing anchor on 23 May as part of the Mediterranean Fleet commanded by Admiral Samuel Hood, with a detailed account of his passage to the Mediterranean, observations during time spent ashore (e.g. Gibraltar and Genoa), anchoring at Toulon on 29 August ([30 August] "...several ships shifted their situations, and moor'd in such Positions as could best defend the approaches to the Town of Toulon, which we understand is threaten'd to be attack'd by a large Army from Marseilles ... AM receiv'd orders to shift the Vulcan to a situation of circumstances (as I suppose) should render it necessary to destroy the French Fleet..."), his reassignment to HMS Courageux, and order to "proceed imm[ediatel]y off Marseilles & recall the Nemesis from off that P[o]rt...", 3 May to 15 September 1793, with orders of battle and sailing for the fleet, and with six ink and wash sketches of coastal horizons, including Alicante and Cape St Martin (2 pages), altogether 68 pages, folio, marbled wrappers

iv) "Journal of the Proceedings of HM Ship Maidstone. Commencing Jany. 1st 1797", detailing his employment as Captain stationed off the West African Coast, arriving at Sierra Leone on 17 February 1797, later on convoy across the Atlantic, and in the Caribbean, describing in detail visits to leading figures in African coastal settlements (such as "the Reverend Mr Quaqua (the black Clergyman at Cape Coast Castle)"), including his attendance at a feast with dancing ("...The Females with their Music (ie) drums & gourds containing some beads or stones to make them rattle) withdraw a little distance (20 or 30 yards) they then pitch their voices to some particular song and Tune, three or 4 sing, and the rest join in the Chorus which has a pleasing effect. one of the Females then advances with a shuffling step - a waving motion of her hands - and writhing wriggling motion of her body towards the Men & pays her obeisance to her Father & Friends and returns in the same manner to the group, and is followed by all the rest in rotation...", 23 March 1797) and at a ritual trial for adultery with use of a fetish ("...a hollow circular vessel like a portion of a cylinder about two feet long, made I believe of clay, and coverd over with a dried skin..."), also recording his official duties policing ships of various nationalities engaged in the slave trade (American, Dutch, Portuguese), many of which made use of British deserters, his  search for French Privateers, endemic problems with discipline, his poor relationship with his own officers, and epidemic disease on board ship, c.170 pages, 1 January 1797 to 16 March 1798, with, written from the reverse, "Detached Observations on the Manners and Customs of the Natives of Cape Gorse, Africa", with headings "Of the Craba & Acra" ("...Evry ... Man in authority has two Attendant slaves, Male and Female, call'd his Acra and Craba: Their office is a kind of secret watch over the safety of his Person while living, and to attend him when dead; as they are always sacrific'd at his interment..."), "Suicide", "of the punishment of extravagance in youth", "Veneration of the Dead", "Mode of ruining a Man by costs of Suit", "Gaming", and "Natural History" (6 pages), followed by three ink sketches of an African harbour, also "Notices, respecting the Island of Princes" (3 pages) and "General Observations ... for running down the Coast of Africa, from Sierraleone to Cape Palmas" (4 pages), altogether c.185 pages, folio, stiff vellum boards

v) Twelve items by or relating to Matthews: deposition by John Matthews on Sierra Leone, local society, and the slave trade, 4 pages, folio, text on rectos only, probably late 1780s, incomplete at end; M.C. Watts, three West African coastal views, ink and wash, captioned "Commenda Forts", Mouree Fort", and "Annamaboe Fort", each 190 x 270mm, all signed and dated March 1797, with a fourth similar view, uncaptioned and unsigned; with four hand coloured engravings from John Matthews, A Voyage to the River Sierra-Leone (1788); his admission as a freeman of Liverpool, 7 August 1788; his appointment as Captain of HMS Maidstone, 31 December 1795; one document relating to a later family member, 1835-42


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Catalogue Note

A HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT AND SUBSTANTIAL ARCHIVE RELATING TO BRITISH ENGAGEMENT IN WEST AFRICA AT THE HEIGHT OF THE SLAVE TRADE. John Matthews was a naval officer who left the service in the 1780s to work as an agent for a London slave merchant, spending the years 1785-87 in Africa. The current lot includes the journals he kept during this period, but he also recorded his experiences in A Voyage to the River Sierra-Leone on the Coast of Africa ... In a Series of Letters to a Friend in England (London, 1788). Matthews re-joined the navy at the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars. By 1797 he was back on the West African coast commanding the Maidstone, a fifth-rate ship of the line.

Matthews's detailed journals describe life on board, his continual problems with drunkenness and discipline, and many other subjects, but they are particularly interesting in their exposure of the complex set of relationships on which the continuation of the slave trade depended. The European slavers were in an uneasy alliance that was later disrupted by the outbreak of war in Europe, but were also dependent on the coastal kingdoms for the supply of slaves. The limited extent of European penetration inland is shown by the difficulties Matthew's encountered when travelling up the Deong River - from the unreliability of the pilot, to the extortion of heavy tolls by chiefs of villages through which they passed, to the susceptibility of his white crew to disease. He made a systematic attempt to understand the workings of the coastal kingdoms and the origins of the vast numbers of slaves who were sold to European traders; he concluded that the vast majority were captives taken in wars in the interior, but (with a self-serving twist) that the bottomless European appetite for slaves played no part in fuelling these wars.

English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of Darwin

|
London