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Last Slave Shipment to John Fowler

John Fowler died in June 1792.  The inventory of his assets includes amounts owed to him by various people for a total of 24 "new Negroes".  Since Martha Brae/ Falmouth was a relatively minor port1 , it's easy to use the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (TSTD) to identify the most likely voyage which these slaves arrived on.  Martha Brae and Falmouth is listed as having one slave delivery in May of 1792, while Falmouth had two, in April and November.  The May delivery to Martha Brae and the November delivery to Falmouth were from James Rogers and Co., for which John Fowler was an agent. Based on these dates of the James Rogers deliveries, it is likely that the "new Negroes" in the inventory arrived in the May delivery2.

The Daniel

The May delivery arrived on the "Daniel", a 126 ton Bristol based brig3.  This was the 3rd of 3 voyages by the Daniel, in which a total of 486 slaves were delivered to the West Indies4, out of 566 who were embarked in Africa, giving an overall mortality of 14.1%, a relatively good record5.  The ownership was the same for all three voyages:

James Rogers & Co.
Sir James Laroche
Richard Fydell

The Daniel's 3rd Voyage

In a sense, the 3rd voyage can be considered a continuation of the 2nd - after delivering slaves in Grenada on the second voyage, the Daniel had returned to Africa instead of returning to Bristol.  This was a somewhat unusual pattern, and made for a very long trip - the second voyage began in Bristol on March 13, 1791 under Captain Henry Laroche6, and the 3rd voyage ended back in Bristol 538 days later, on September 2, 1792.


  1For all practical purposes, Martha Brae and Falmouth are the same port
  2The November shipment was probably also consigned to John Fowler, but since it arrived after his death it is likely that his two surviving brothers, Andrew and James, handled the sale of that cargo.
  3Brigantine, a 2 masted vessel
  4189 and 126 to Grenada on the 1st and 2nd voyages respectively, and 171 to Jamaica on the 3rd.
  5The voyage to Grenada was slightly shorter than to Jamaica, which probably helped keep down mortality.  The length of the "Middle Passage" on the first voyage wasn't recorded, but on the second voyage it was 58 days, and the slave mortality was 13.7%, whereas on the 3rd voyage to Jamaica, the Middle Passage was 70 days, and mortality was 19.0%
  6Presumably Henry Laroche was related to the Sir James Laroche, who was one of the co-owners of the venture


The official 3rd voyage (ID 18280 on the TSTD) began on November 2, 1791, when the Daniel left Grenada with a crew of 18, under the command of Captain Laroche.  Ironically, it would appear that one of the owner's own kin was among the many lives (crew and captive) sacrificed in the quest for profit, since apparently Captain Laroche did not survive the journey, because a John Langdon is listed as the second captain.

On January 17, 1792, 76 days after leaving Grenada, the Daniel began purchasing slaves in Calabar, West Africa.  On March 18, 1792, the Daniel left Africa with 211 slaves : (129 males, 82 females), arriving in Martha Brae 70 days later, on May 27, 1792.  171 slaves (98 men, 12 boys, 55 women and 6 girls) were disembarked at Martha Brae.

Crew Mortality

The 19% slave mortality on the Middle Passage was pretty horrific, but compare the experience of the crew. The Daniel left Africa with 21 crew, of whom 16 survived the passage to Jamaica, a death rate of 24% - actually slightly higher than the death rate for the slaves. Of course, the number of crew was smaller than the slaves, so a variation of one or two in the number of crew deaths swings the % by more. For example, if 17 (instead of 16) crew had survived the voyage, the death rate would have been 19%, the same as for the slaves.  Hence, for all practical purposes, the death rate of the captive slaves was the same as for the free crew (but, of course, both were pretty horrifying to modern eyes).
The situation for the crew is actually much worse if you look at the entire 3rd voyage, instead of just the Middle Passage.  In total, at least 26 sailors signed on as crew at various points, of whom only 16 were left at the end, an incredible death rate of at least 38%. This death rate was probably so high because of the long duration of the entire voyage (nearly three times the duration of just the Africa to WI passage).  The voyage had started in Grenada, with 18 crew.  The number of deaths (if any) in the crossing to Africa isn't recorded, but there were 5 recorded deaths in the crew between the first slave purchase and the departure from Africa (137 days after departing Grenada).  Crew were taken on in Africa to replace the losses and to give a few more hands for the Middle Passage, presumably to help control the slaves, so we have :

Original crew           18
Losses in Africa         5
Surviving crew         13
New hires                  8
Crew leaving Africa 21
Losses to Ja.             5
Crew arrived Ja      16

Total crew hired   26
Total crew deaths 10
This is the minimum number of deaths, it could have been more if there were unrecorded deaths on the passage to Africa.  Further, when the Daniel left Jamaica it had only 14 crew, so either there were additional deaths in Jamaica, or some of the crew chose to stay behind (or were too sick to travel).  

Crew information for the 2nd voyage is sparse, but the Daniel originally left Bristol with a crew of 26 and arrived in Grenada with 24, for an apparently low loss of only 2.  Apparently the prospect of returning to Africa was not agreeable to some of the crew, hence only 18 choosing (unwisely, as it turned out) to remain with the ship.  If we consider the Daniel's 2nd and 3rd voyages together as one extended voyage, the statistics look something like this :
Original crew              26
Losses on 2nd voyage  2
Arriving in Grenada     24
Left ship in Grenada      6
Started 3rd voyage      18
Losses in Africa            5
Surviving crew            13
New hires                     8
Crew leaving Africa     21
Losses to Ja.                 5
Crew arrived Ja           16

Total crew hired   34
Total crew deaths 12


Researched and written by John Fowler.

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