HMS Sappho

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Sappho, 1837
Type: Brig-sloop ; Armament 16
Launched : 3 Feb 1837 ; Disposal date or year : late 1858
Disposal Details : Supposed foundered on Australian Station, Com. Fairfax Moresby. All lost.
BM: 428 tons
Notes:

5 Dec 1837 detained in lat. 18░ 19' 0" N. long. 75░ 38' 52" W. off St. Domingo., the Portuguese slave vessel Izabelita, with 160 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Portuguese Court of Mixed Commission, Sierra Leone, and on 6 Mar 1838 sentenced to be condemned.

30 Apr 1838 captured the Portuguese slave brig Camoens, Felix Cosme Madail, master, lat. 24░ 4' N., long. 80░ 8' W., with 572 slaves on board, which were sent to Sierra Leone for adjudication by the British and Portuguese Mixed Court who dealt with the matter on 4 Aug 1838, where she was condemned for being engaged in the illicit traffic in slaves and the surviving 569 negroes emancipated, 3 having died before adjudication, the vessel and stores being sold by public auction, and the proceeds paid into the military chest.

13 Jul 1838 detained in lat. 18░ 46' 0" N., long. 81░ 34' 0" W., off Cuba, the Portuguese slave schooner Rozalia Habanera, formerly Fanny Butler, Manoel Martins, master, with 305 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Portuguese Court of Mixed Commission, Sierra Leone, and on 10 Dec 1839 sentenced to be condemned.

16 Jan 1839 at Jamaica.

30 Apr 1839 departed from Jamaica on a cruise.

7 Jun 1839 was spoken with at lat 20, long 2.

16 Feb 1840 departed from Tampico for Jamaica.

5 Jun 1840 departed from Jamaica for Charleston ;

27 Aug 1840, left Jamaica for Honduras and England.

30 Aug 1840, arrived at Belize, Honduras, from Jamaica, and departed the following day for Vera Cruz.

26 Dec 1840 arrived at Port Royal, Jamaica, from Mexico, with a freight of 738,000 dollars for Jamaica and Barbadoes.

1 Jan 1841 at Havannah.

11 Mar 1841 departed Jamaica for Barbadoes.

3 Apr 1841 Assistant-Surgeon George Doak, of the Magnificent, promoted to be acting surgeon of the Sappho ;

9 Apr 1841 at Barbadoes,

31 May 1841 at Barbadoes.

25 Aug 1841 the Sappho, with the Persian in company, detained the slave vessel Bella Sociedade, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at St. Helena, and sentenced to be condemned.

14 Sep 1841 at Antigua on the departure of the trooper ship Columbia for England.

1 Nov 1841 remained at Barbadoes when the packet Pandora departed for England.

3 Dec 1841 was due to depart from the Barbadoes with the Cleopatra to survey the careenage and anchorage at Grenada, preparatory to the reception of the Mail Steam Packets.

23 Dec 1841 Commander E. J. Parry, appointed to the command of the Sappho, 16. on the North America and West India Station, vice T. Fraser, promoted to the rank of Captain.

1 Nov 1841 was reported to be at Barbadoes when the packet Pandora called ; the gunner, Mr. G. Heaney, was reported to have died.

3 Nov 1841 was at Carlisle Bay, Barbadoes, with the Fair Rosamond, both vessels having experienced the fever, but no deaths at the time of writing.

3 Dec 1841 due to proceed with the Cleopatra from Barbadoes, to survey the careenage and anchorage at Granada, preparatory to the reception of the Royal Mail Packets.

1 Jan 1842 was reported to be at Barbadoes, by the packet Alert.

4 Feb 1842 reported to be at Barbadoes, with the Cleopatra, per the Winchester, departed Bermuda 4th inst.

Circa 14 Feb 1842, at Barbadoes when the troop ship Atholl departed for Portsmouth.

4 Mar 1842 departed Barbadoes for Jamaica.

5 Apr 1842 departed Jamaica with the squadron for Honduras and Belize to resolve some local political problems.

Circa 20 May 1842 departed Halifax, N.S., with specie for the troops at Quebec.

Circa 20 Jun 1842 was at Quebec.

23 Aug 1842 arrived Spithead from North America, Prince Edward's Island (1 Aug), and stations on the coast of Labrador.

24 Aug 1842 departed Spithead for Plymouth to be paid off.

20 Sep 1843 detained in lat. 11░ 32' S. long. 13░ 3' E., by a ship's boat off the port of Benguala, the Portuguese slave brig Sociedade, M. A. Rodrigues, master, which was sent for adjudication to the British and Portuguese Court at the Cape of Good Hope, and on 29 Nov 1843 sentenced to be condemned.

22 Jan 1844 detained a slave brigantine, Name Unknown, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope, and on 6 Jul 1844 sentenced to be condemned.

18 Jan 1845, fell in with the Bittern.

19 Jan 1845, anchored off Inhamban and supplied 8 weeks of provisions to the Bittern.

2 Feb 1845, arrived Simon's Bay after an absence of about 7 months.

9 May 1845 detained a slave dhow, Name Unknown, abandoned near Port Velhaco, which being unfit for voyage to the Cape was destroyed and the case sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope and on 17 Oct 1845 sentenced to be condemned.

24 May 1845 discovered by the ship's boats off the River Angozha, her crew having deserted her, a slave dhow, Name Unknown, which was destroyed and the case sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope, and on 17 Oct 1845 sentenced to be condemned.

29 May 1845 discovered by the Sappho as she entered the Bay of Pomba, on the east coast of Africa, a slave dhow, Name Unknown, which, being unfit for the passage was destroyed and the case sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope and on 17 Oct 1845 sentenced to be condemned.

30 Jul 1845 detained by the ship's boats in lat. 17░ 17' S. long. 37░ 57' E., in an unnamed river a slave dhow, Name Unknown, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope, and on 17 Oct 1845 sentenced to be condemned.

14 Nov 1845 joined the Cleopatra on the Quillemane Coast, with a view to relieving her.

15 Nov 1845 checking up on the Triumfante, which the Cleopatra had warned was in breach of the Treaty of Commerce between Portugal and Great Britain of 1842.

12 Dec 1845 detained in lat. 18░ 09' S. long. 36░ 57' E., the Brazilian slave vessel Triumfante, JosÚ Maria Pereira, master, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at the Cape of Good Hope, and on 28 Feb 1846 sentenced to be condemned.

4 Jan 1846 the Brazilian slave brig Triumfante detained by the Sappho arrived today at Simon's Town.

12 Feb 1846 boarded the barque Lucy Penniman, of New York, Matthew Cooper, master, from Rio de Janeiro.

28 Jun 1846, the Thunderbolt fell in with the Sappho, the Mozambique Channel, on her return from Mauritius.

Jan 1848 Portsmouth, in Ordinary (reserve)

20 Dec 1848 Portsmouth.

6 Mar 1849->2 Nov 1852 Sappho's itinerary with many thanks to Steven Hewitt.

5-31 Dec 1849 transcript from Ship's Log, detailing the grounding on the 6th and subsequent recovery action with many thanks to Steven Hewitt.

30 Jan 1851 At Trinidad

18 Apr 1851 at Bermuda preparing to sail for the Northern Fisheries.

30 Aug 1851 North America and West Indies.

28 Feb 1856 Act Mate Borthwick appt ; at Chatham

3 Mar 1856 Lt W Smth (1854) apptd ; at Chatham

17 Apr 1857 anchored off Point Padron.

18 Apr 1857 departed for Turtle Point.

9 May 1857 detained the American slave barque Panchita.

10 Sep 1857 chased and detained in lat. 6░ 50' S., long. 12░ 40' E., between Cabeca de Cobra and Ambrizette, a slave schooner, Name Unknown, without papers, and fully equipped for the slave trade, which case was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, and on 22 Oct 1857 sentenced to be forfeited, the vessel having been surveyed on the 16th and found to be rotten, and so was taken out to sea on the 17th and burnt. For more detail see.

18 Sep 1857 detained in lat. 6░ 40' S. Long. 12░ 24' E., at Cabeca de Cobra, a slave ship Name Unknown, supposed Charles, with 358 slaves on board, which was sent for adjudication to the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sierra Leone, and on 22 Oct 1857 sentenced to be forfeited.

18 Sep 1857 in lat. 6░ 40' S. long. 12░ 24' E., whilst boarding a schooner observed a ship under the land, wearing off-shore. Having dealt with the schooner, made sail to chase the ship. After a while, leaving the ship under the command of the master, the commanding officer, Commander Moresby departed in the gig to leeward, meanwhile sending the ship's cutter to windward, thus preventing the ship from escaping. The crew of the ship then ran the ship aground and took to the boats to escape ashore. The Master, having taken the ship's whale-boat, had come up with the ship and was attempting to save life, a tremendous surf and the lurching of the ship causing masts to start falling over the side, which made boarding the vessel extremely difficult, but once achieved it was apparent that the slaves were leaving the ship by jumping into the surf and drowning despite the best efforts of the boats' crews to rescue them. The remaining slaves were driven below, following which they were slowly transferred to the Sappho in the ship's boats. However, the surf got worse and it was deemed not possible to transfer any slaves on the 19th, but by the 20th, with the ship's back broken and slave traders and natives firing on the ship from the shore the Negroes were pulled through the surf from the ship to the ship's boats to safety, whilst being given covering fire from the rest of the ship's boats. It was not thought to be safe to leave the Master and his party on board another night, especially as a part of the ship was dry at low-tide. 358 slaves were rescued from the ship, out of a possible 1200 originally thought to have been on board, however, 40 died from exposure, despite the best attempts by the Sappho's ship's company : 311 were transferred to the Vesuvius, seven being retained on board for medical treatment. Once the last of the Negroes, and the master and his crew had been removed from the ship, it was set on fire to prevent anything being salvaged by the slave traders on the beach. A continuous fire was therefore maintained on the ship throughout the night, by the gunner and his men, with a view to keeping the fire burning.

27 Oct 1857 advised the Commodore that she had received information that a Spanish barque was about to embark her human cargo at Banda Point and that 20 launches had left Cabinda the night before with slaves.

28 Oct 1857 detained and burnt one of the launches.

Late 1858 Supposed foundered.

In a letter dated 15 Jan 1859, Loanda, Angola, the following passage appears, which suggests the Sappho may have gone missing in late 1858 :
3. This was the same vessel [referring to the Panchita], which was detained and sent to the United States by Her Majesty's -- I fear, late -- ship Sappho in May 1857, and her escape is specially to be lamented, inasmuch as it will certainly tend to inspire the slave traffickers with greater confidence in the security and protection afforded them by the American flag.
I have, &c., (Signed) Edmund Gabriel, Acting Commissioner


Commander Moresby to the Secretary to the Admiralty.--( Received November 23.)
Sappho, at Sea, September 18, 1857.
Sir, I have the honour to inform you that on the morning of the 10th September, when in latitude 6░ 50' south, and longitude 12░ 40' east, I chased and captured a fore-and-aft schooner, without name, papers, or colours, and fully equipped for the Slave Trade, but not having any slaves on board. On my boarding the schooner. I found all her crew, eight in number, ready to be taken out with all their things packed up. On the crew being searched, twenty-four doubloons were found on the person of one of them, and four doubloons, with two gold watches, on another ; one of which, with the doubloons, have been retained. Having sent Mr. Frederic Wills, master of this sloop, in charge of the prize to Loanda, I ran down to Cabinda, and landed the slave-crew, with the exception of three. From information that I obtained from the crew, it appears that the schooner was fitted out at Havana (with four others). and is evidently a Spanish-built ship, and only arrived on the coast the day before, after a passage of 115 days : her captain immediately landed with five of the crew. She was to have taken 300 negroes. On the 16th, the day after my arrival at Loanda, I ordered a survey to be held on the prize, when she was found rotten, and in a perfectly unseaworthy state ; she was, therefore, taken to sea on the same day, and burnt on the 17th instant ; her tonnage, measured by the carpenter and master, is 141 tons, her length being 80 feet, breadth 23 feet, and depth of hold 10 feet.
I have, &c. (Signed) F. Moresby.