Slave Ships
South Carolina


South Carolina Genealogy Trails

Adelaide - French slave ship, sank 1714 near Cuba.


La Amistad - cargo ship which sometimes carried slaves - La Amistad became a symbol in the movement to abolish slavery after a group of African captives aboard revolted in July 1839. Its recapture resulted in a legal battle over their status.

Braunfisch - a Brandenburgian slave ship lost in 1688 in a revolt.

Brookes - sailing in the 1780s.

Clotilde - burned and sunk at Mobile, in autumn 1859 - last known U.S. slave ship to bring slaves from Africa to America,  arriving at Mobile Bay in autumn 1859.  Many descendents of Cudjoe Kazoola Lewis,] the last survivor of the Clotilde, still reside in Africatown, and a bust of him sits in front of the Union Missionary Baptist Church there.

In autumn of 1859, the schooner Clotilde (or Clotilda), under the command of Captain William Foster, arrived in Mobile Bay carrying a cargo of African slaves, numbering between 110 and 160 slaves. Captain Foster was working for Timothy Meaher, a wealthy Mobile shipyard owner and shipper, who had built the Clotilde in 1856. Local lore relates that Meaher bet some "Northern gentlemen" that he could violate the 1807 law (passed 2 March 1807, took effect 1 January 1808) without getting caught. The Clotilde was a 2-masted schooner, 86-ft long and 23-ft wide, with a copper hull. Meaher had learned that West African Tribes were fighting, and that the King of Dahomey was willing to trade Africans for US $50 each in the Kingdom of Whydah, Dahomey. Foster arrived in Whydah on May 15, 1859, and he bought the Africans from several different tribes and headed back to Mobile.

When the Clotilde arrived from Africa, Federal authorities had already been alerted to the illegal scheme. Captain Foster, fearful of the criminal charges, arrived at night, transferring his cargo to a riverboat, then burning the Clotilde before sinking it. The African slaves were distributed to those having a financial interest in the Clotilde venture, with Timothy Meaher retaining 30 of the Africans on a property near Mobile.

Cudjo (aka Cudjoe) Lewis was among the slaves retained near Mobile. Mobile was in the Deep South and blacks, Africans or native-born people, occupied the bottom rung in a racial hierarchy. The Africans brought on the Clotilde could not be legally enslaved; however, they were treated as chattel. Cudjo among the 30 were "illegally" the property of Meaher. The American Civil War ended six years after the illegal enslavement of the Africans brought aboard the Clotilde. When freed, the Africans settled in Plateau, Alabama, a poor rural community just north of Mobile, calling their community "Africatown". They adopted their own rules and leaders, and they established the African Church. The group worked hard: the women used their agricultural skills to raise and sell crops, and the men worked in mills for $1 a day, saving money to purchase the land. When possible, they avoided the whites.

Cudjo Lewis (African name, Kazoola) was the last survivor of the Clotilde journey. In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston, the African American writer, interviewed Lewis for the Journal of Negro History: Reporters often interviewed him, and he told stories about the civil wars in West Africa and the losing side being sold into slavery. His group were West African; they were the Tarkar people. Cudjo related how he had been captured by warriors from neighboring Dahomey, taken into Whydah, and imprisoned within a slave compound. He had been sold by the King of Dahomey to William Foster and then transported to the U.S. The Tarkar people asked to be repatriated, but were denied, and instead, tried to recreate a homeland in Mobile. The group continued speaking their native language and used African gardening or cooking techniques, trying to retain their West African culture.

For several years, Cudjo Lewis served as a spokesman for the Tarkar people of Africatown. He was visited by many prominent blacks, among them Booker T. Washington. Cudjo Lewis eventually came to believe that Africans had to adopt the new country, even though their white countrymen had treated them brutally. In Africatown, the Union Baptist Church has the Cudjo Lewis Memorial Statue. In 1997 there was a campaign to have the community declared a historical site. Cudjo Lewis died in 1935 at the age of 114.

Cora - captured by the USS Constellation1860.

Fredensborg - Danish slave ship, sank in 1768 off Tromøy in Norway, after a journey in the triangular trade. Leif Svalesen has written a book about the journey.

Henrietta Marie -  Sank 1701 off Key West, Florida. - named for Queen Henrietta Maria wife of King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1600-1649). Sank 35 miles off the coast of Key West after selling 190 slaves to Jamaica. Mel Fisher (and divers from his company Salvors Inc.) found the Henrietta Marie in 1972. When the boat was fully excavated they found iron shackles and other devices that were used to torture and punish the slaves aboard. The boat was recognized only because of the bronze bell that was found inside of it with the name inscribed on its side.

Hope - was an American brig class merchant ship involved in the fur trade along the northwest coast of North America and discovery in the Pacific Ocean. Earlier the vessel was involved in the slave trade.

Kron-Printzen - Danish slave ship, sank in 1706 with 820 slaves on board.

Le Concord - Slave ship turned pirate ship aka Queen Anne's Revenge, Sank 1717.

Lord Ligonier - See Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley.

Margaret Scott - confiscated and sunk as part of the Stone fleet in 1862 - purchased 30 November 1861 in New Bedford for use in the Stone Fleet. She was fitted out as a slave ship, and had been confiscated by the US Marshall. She was sunk 20 January 1862 in Maffitt's Channel in Charleston harbor. A woman named Margaret Scott had been executed as one of the Salem Witches.

Pons (ship) American built barque captured by the USS Yorktown 1 December 1845 with 850-900 slaves

Salamander - Brandenburgian slave ship.

Tecora - Portuguese slave ship that transported the slaves who would later revolt aboard La Amistad - was a Portuguese slave ship of the early 1800s. The brig was built especially for the slave trade after the transport across the Atlantic of human beings as slaves had already been outlawed in the first decade of the 19th century. She was fast and maneuverable in order to evade British patrols which attempted to stop such illegal slave ships.

In 1839, a group of Africans were kidnapped from Mendiland, (in modern day Sierra Leone) and transported to the African slave port of Lomboko. There a Portuguese slave trader purchased about 500 of the Africans and transported them aboard the Tecora to Havana, Cuba.

Conditions for slaves on the Tecora were horrific. The captives were stripped, chained in groups of five, and packed so tightly into the slave hold (a deck below the main deck and above the cargo hold) that one person's head, when lying in rows, was forced upon another person's thigh. In the ship's dark cargo hold, each slave had only 3 feet 3 inches of headroom during the ten-week voyage. The captives were sometimes brought up on deck and fed rice. Those who tried to starve themselves, as often happened, were whipped and forced to eat.

While they were at sea, water supplies ran low, and disease spread through the closely packed, unventilated slave deck. At times when supplies ran low, the crew would chain 30-40 slaves and attach a heavy weight at the end, then throw it over board forcing the chained Africans into the water to drown. Nearly a third of the slaves died during the long voyage from disease, malnutrition, and beatings.
Since importing slaves into Spanish-controlled Cuba was illegal, the slave traders smuggled the captive Africans ashore at night in small boats. They landed them in a small inlet a few miles from Havana. Once on land, the slaves were placed in a barracoon, or a "slave pen."

Under Spanish law, once they arrived in Cuba in late June, the Africans were legally free. However, they were fraudulently classified as Cuban-born slaves so they could be separated and sold. Two Spanish plantation owners, Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, bought 53 of the surviving Africans: 49 men, a boy, and three girls. Ruiz and Montes packed their cargo and the slaves on board the schooner La Amistad and set sail for their plantation at Port Principe, Cuba.

Triton - captured by the USS Constellation 1861.

Trouvadore - wrecked in Turks and Caicos 1841. 193 slaves survived. Project commenced in 2004 to locate the ship - In 1841 the slave ship Troubador set sail from Cuba to collect enslaved Africans to be sold to the sugar plantations in Cuba. This act was illegal, Spain having outlawed the slave trade. However, governors in Cuba often turned a blind eye to the trade as it was required to maintain the economic viability of the sugar plantations. The exact route of Troubador is not known but in the records it states that new crew members were picked up in Sao Tome, a Portuguese colony off the coast of Arica, and still legally trading enslaved Africans.

The exact numbers of Africans boarded onto Troubador is not recorded but would have been around 280-300. When the ship wrecked off East Caicos in March 1841 all the 20 crew members and 193 Africans aboard survived, suggesting that around 100 had died during the Atlantic crossing, a typical loss for a venture of this kind. On landing on East Caicos a number of the Africans fled into the bush, one being shot dead.

East Caicos was a large deserted Island in 1841. The initial assistance came from residents from the neighbouring Island of Middle Caicos, who also got news of the wrecking to the authorities on the Island of Grand Turk, the political capital of the Turks and Caicos. The Authorities dispatched British soldiers to secure the crew and bring all back to Grand Turk whilst a decision was made on their future. Residents from Middle Caicos had disarmed the Spanish crew so when Lt. Fitzgerald arrived with his men there was no need for force. The ships crew were arrested.

On Grand Turk the ships crew were placed under armed guard and eventually taken to Nassau with 24 of the Africans. As slavery had been abolished in this British territory in 1834 the remaining 168 Africans were freed into a one year Apprenticeship during which time they were taught a skill, baptised and learnt English. These 168 individuals increased the population by 7% and would have had a major impact on the country.

This story was long forgotten until the Founder of the Turks and Caicos National Museum Grethe Seim, and Dr Donald Keith started searching in the USA for objects from the Turks and Caicos. They discovered a letter book written by Grand Turk resident George Judson Gibbs, containing letters written in the late 1870s trying to sell some of his collection. This included 2 'African Idols' from a Spanish slaver that wrecked off East Caicos in 1841. Research was begun and in the British National Archives the story was uncovered.

Wanderer - formerly last slave ship to the U.S. (Nov. 1858) until Clotilde reported - had been the last known ship to bring slaves from Africa to the United States (on November 28, 1858), until information was revealed about the Clotilde, which months later, had transfered slaves to a riverboat and was secretly burned and sunk off the coast of Mobile, in autumn 1859.  The slaves who arrived to the United States on the Wanderer gained a mild celebrity status. They were the only group of slaves who came to be frequently identified with the ship that they arrived on. The tendency of newspapers and private correspondence to identify the slaves in this way supports the conclusion that there were no other large-scale importations of African slaves in this period.

Wildfire - a barque, arrested off the Florida coast by the US Navy in 1860; carrying 450 slaves.

Whydah Gally - slave ship turned into pirate ship-sank 1717 - was the flagship of the pirate "Black Sam" Bellamy. The ship sank in a storm off Cape Cod on April 26, 1717, taking Bellamy and the majority of his crew with it.  The wreck of the Whydah was rediscovered in 1984 by underwater explorer Barry Clifford (relying heavily on the 1717 map that Southack drew of the wreck's location) and has been the site of extensive underwater archaeology. More than 100,000 individual pieces have since been retrieved, including the ship's bell whose inscription THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716 positively identified the wreck. It is the only pirate shipwreck site whose identification has been established beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Zong - a British slave ship famous of the massacre which occurred aboard in 1781.  The ship had taken on more slaves than it could safely transport. By November 29, 1781, this overcrowding, together with malnutrition and disease, had killed seven of the crew and approximately sixty African slaves. Captain Collingwood decided to throw the remaining sick slaves overboard. He assumed that the slaves would be considered in law to be cargo, so he could claim the loss against an insurance policy. The insurance policy would allow the Liverpool ship-owners to bring a claim if a slave went over the side alive, but not if a slave died on board, as that would be deemed to be bad cargo management and therefore not covered by the policy. Collingwood therefore gave orders for 133 slaves to be drowned.

Later, it was claimed that the slaves had been jettisoned because it was required "for the safety of the ship" as the ship did not have enough water to keep them alive for the rest of the voyage. This claim was later disproved as the ship had 420 gallons of water left when it arrived in Jamaica on December 22.
Captain Collingwood was killed by disease before the voyage ended.

source: Wikipedia -the free encyclopedia

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