During the

Years 1791𦌿,

In a Series of Letters,



To which is added



Henry Thornton, Esq. M.P.

And Chairman of the Court of Directors

of the


If I can hold a torch to others,

Tis all I want棗.

The Second Edition


Printed for the Author, and sold by different booksellers throughout the Kingdom.



















The Authoress will not imitate a threadbare prevailing custom, viz. assure the Public the following

letters were written without any design or intention of sending them into the world; on the contrary, she

candidly confesses having some idea of the kind when writing them, though her mind was not fully

made up on the business until towards the beginning of April,梟ay, for some time before then (from a

consciousness of the inability of her pen) she had actually relinquished all thoughts of publishing them,

which determination she certainly would have adhered to, if her will had not been overruled by the

importunities of her friends.

In her first Voyage, she has given her reasons for going to Africa, described the incidents and

occurrences she met with and (from occular observations) the manners, customs, &c. of the people

inhabiting those places she visited, she has also made an humble attempt to delineate their situations

and qualities, with a superficial History, of the Peninsula of Sierra Leone and its environs, which she

certainly would have enlarged upon during her second Voyage, had not Lieutenant Matthews, previous

to her returning to England in 1791, taken the start of her, by publishing his voyage to that Country;

that being the case, it would not only have been superfluous, but discovering more vanity than she

could wish the World to suppose her possessed of, had she offered to tread in a path already travelled

over by such an ingenious and masterly pen, to which she begs to refer the inquisitive reader.

This consideration and this alone, induced the Authoress to confine the letters of her last Voyage

principally to the transactions and progress of a Colony, whose success or downfall she is persuaded

the Inhabitants, at least the thinking part, of almost every civilized Country, must feel more or less

interested about, and she is sorely afflicted to warn the reader of an unpromising account which could

not be otherwise, unless she had done violence to veracity;梥he is well aware Truth is often

unwelcome, and foresees many facts produced to the World in the course of those letters will not be

acceptable to the ears of numbers;梩herefore, in vindication of herself, she refers the Public to the

whole Court of Directors of the Sierra Leone Company, and hopes, if it be in their power, either

severally or collectively, to contradict one tittle she has advanced, they will do so in the most candid

manner;梖or the Authoress is open to conviction, and if convicted on this, occasion, she will, with all

due deference, kiss the rod of correction.













London, Jan. 5, 1791.

My dear Friend,

The time draws nigh when I must bid adieu to my native land, perhaps for ever! The thoughts of it

damps my spirits more than you can imagine, but I am resolved to summon all the fortitude I can, being

conscious of meriting the reproaches of my friends and relations, for having hastily married as I did

contrary to their wishes, and am determined rather than be an incumbrance on them, to accompany my

husband even to the wilds of Africa, whither he is now bound, and meet such fate as awaits me in

preference to any possible comfort I could receive from them.

Mr. Falconbridge is employed by the St. George's Bay Company to carry out some relief for a number

of unfortunate people, both blacks and whites, whom Government sent to the river Sierra Leone, a few

years since, and who in consequence of having had some dispute with the natives, are scattered through

the country, and are just now as I have been told, in the most deplorable condition.

He (Mr. Falconbridge) is likewise to make some arrangements for collecting those poor creatures

again, and forming a settlement which the company have in contemplation to establish, not only to

serve them, but to be generally useful to the natives.

Mr. Falconbridge, his brother Mr. W. Falconbridge and myself, are to embark on board the Duke of

Buccleugh, Captain McLean, a ship belonging to Messrs. John and Alexander Anderson, of Philpot

Lane; these gentlemen I understand, have a considerable factory at a place called Bance Island, some

distance up the river Sierra Leone, to which island the ship is bound.

The company have either sent, or are to send out a small cutter called the Lapwing, to. meet Mr. F棗,

on the coast, she carries the stores for relieving the people, &c.

This is all the information I can give you at present, respecting my intended voyage, but as it is an

unusual enterprize for an English woman, to visit the coast of Africa; and as I have ever flattered

myself with possessing your friendship, you will no doubt like to hear from me, and I therefore intend

giving you a full and circumstantial -account of every thing that does not escape my notice, 'till I return

to this bless'd land, if it pleases him who determines all things, that should be the case again.

I have this instant learnt that we set off to-morrow for Gravesend, where the ship is laying, ready to

sail; should we put into any port in the channel, I may probably write you if I am able, but must now

bid you adieu.











Spithead, Jan. 12, 1791.

My dear Friend,

CONTRARY winds prevented us from proceeding directly out of the Channel, and made it necessary

to put into this place. We have been here two days, but I am told there is an appearance of the wind

changing, and that it is probable we shall make the attempt to get away some time this day; therefore I

think it best not to defer performing my promise of writing to you, least we sail, and I am disappointed.

We embarked at Gravesend between eleven and twelve o'clock, the night after I wrote you. Every thing

seemed in dreadful confusion; but this I understand is commonly the case on board ships when on the

eve of sailing: besides the captain had several friends who came from London to bid him farewell.

You may guess that my mind, in spite of all the resolution a young girl is capable of mustering, could

not be undisturbed; but I would not give way to any melancholy reflections, and endeavoured to

smother them as often as they intruded; although I must confess they sometimes caught me off my

guard, and my heart for the moment was ready to burst with the thoughts of what I had to encounter,

which was pictured to me by almost every one in the worst of colours.

However I went to bed, and being much fatigued, was in hopes every care would be buried for the

night in delightful sleep; but in this I was disappointed, for although my eyes were closed as soon as I

got my head on the pillow, yet it was not of long continuance.

I had slept perhaps two hours, when the shocking cries of murder awoke me: I did not at the instant

recollect where I was, but the first thoughts which occurred upon remembering myself on ship-board

were, that a gang of pirates had attacked the ship, and would put us all to death.

All the cabin was by this time alarmed; .the cries of murder still continuing while the captain and

others were loudly calling for lights; and so great was the confusion, that it was a long while before any

could be procured: at length the light came, when I found myself some what collected, and had courage

enough to ask what was the matter.

My fears were removed, by being informed it was a Mr. B, a passenger, whose intellects were a little

deranged: he continued his disagreeable hideous cries the whole night, and prevented every one from

sleeping; for my part I scarcely closed my eyes again.

At breakfast Mr. B apologized, by telling us that his wife had murdered his only child, for which

reason he had left her. "And," said he, "the horrid act! has made such an impression on my mind, that I

frequently think I see her all besmeared with blood, with a dagger in her hand, determined to take away

my life also: it preys upon my spirits, for I want strength of mind to conquer the weakness."1

Mr. Alexander Anderson came on board, and dined: he politely enquired if I was comfortable; assured

1 I am inclined to think this was only the imagination of a frantic brain, for we were not able to learn

any thing more of the story.

me, that every thing had been put on board to render us as much so as possible.

In the evening he returned to town, and we got under weigh.

Nothing occurred on our passage here except such frequent returns of Mr. B's delirium, as has induced

Captain Mc Lean to put him on shore, from the opinion of his being an unfit subject to go to the coast

of Africa.

I did not experience any of those fears peculiar to my sex upon the water; and the only inconvenience I

found was a little sea sickness, which I had a right to expect, for you know this is my first voyage.

There is one circumstance, which I forbode will make the remainder of our voyage unpleasant.

The gentlemen whom Mr. Falconbridge is employed by are for abolishing the slave trade: the owners

of this vessel are of that trade, and consequently the Captain and Mr. Falconbridge mast he very

opposite in their sentiments.

They are always arguing, and both are warm in their tempers, which makes me uneasy, and induces me

to form the conjectures I do; but perhaps that may not be the case.

I have not been on shore at Portsmouth, indeed it is not a desirable place to visit: I was once there, and

few people have a wish to see it a second time.

The only thing that has attracted my notice in the harbour, is the fleet with the convicts for Botany Bay,

which are wind bound, as well as ourselves.

The destiny of such numbers of my fellow creatures has made what I expect to encounter, set lighter

upon my mind than it ever did before; nay, nothing could have operated a reconciliation so effectually;

for as the human heart is more susceptible of distress conveyed by the eye, than when represented by

language however ingenuously pictured with misery, so the sight of those unfortunate beings, and the

thoughts of what they are to endure, have worked more forcibly on my feelings than all the accounts I

ever read or heard of wretchedness before.

I must close this which is the last, in all probability, you will receive from me, 'till my arrival in Africa;

when, if an opportunity offers, I shall make a point of writing to you.

Pray do not let distance or absence blot out the recollection of her,

Who is truly your's.











Bance Island, Feb. 10, 1791.

My dear Friend,

We sailed the very day I wrote you from Portsmouth, and our passage was unusually quick, being only

eighteen days from thence to this place.

The novelty of a ship ploughing the trackless ocean, in a few days became quite familiar to me; there

was such a sameness in every thing (for some birds were all we saw the whole way) that I found the

voyage tiresome, notwithstanding the shortness of it.

You will readily believe my heart was gladdened at the sight of the mountains of Sierra Leone, which

was the land we first made.

Those mountains appear to rise gradually from the sea to a stupendous height, richly wooded and

beautifully ornamented by the hand of nature, with a variety of delightful prospects.

I was vastly pleased while sailing up the river, for the rapidity of the ship through the water afforded a

course of new scenery almost every moment, till we cast anchor here: Now and then I saw the glimpse

of a native town, but from the distance and new objects hastily catching my eye, was not able to form a

judgment or idea of any of them; but this will be no loss, as I may have frequent opportunities of

visiting some of them hereafter.

As soon as our anchor was dropped, Captain McLean saluted Bance Island with seven guns, which not

being returned I enquired the cause, and was told that the last time the Duke of Buccleugh came out,

she, as is customary, saluted, and on the fort returning the compliment, a wad was drove by the force of

the sea breeze upon the roof of one of the houses (which was then of thatch) set fire to the building, and

consumed not only the house but goods to a large amount.

When the ceremony of saluting was over, Captain McLean and Mr. W. Falconbridge went on shore; but

it being late in the evening, I continued on board 'till next day.

Here we met the Lapwing cutter. She sailed some time before us from Europe, and had been arrived

two or three weeks.

The master of her, and several of the people to whose assistance Mr. Faleonbridge is come, and who

had taken refuge here, came to visit us.

They represented their sufferings to have been very great; that they had been treacherously dealt with

by one King Jemmy, who had drove them away from the ground they occupied, burnt their houses, and

otherwise devested them of every comfort and necessary of life; they also threw out some reflections

against the Agent of this island; said he had sold several of their fellow sufferers to a Frenchman, who

had taken them to the West Indies.

Mr. Falconbridge, however, was not the least inclined to give entire confidence to what they told us;

but prudently suspended his opinion until he had made further enquiries.

Those visitors being gone, we retired to bed桰 cannot say to rest; the heat was so excessive that I

scarcely slept at all.

The following day we received a polite invitation to dine on shore, which I did not object to, although

harassed for want of sleep the night before.

At dinner the conversation turned upon the slave trade: Mr. Falconbridge, zealous for the cause in

which he is engaged, strenuously opposed every argument his opponents advanced in favour of the

abominable trade: the glass went briskly round, and the gentlemen growing warm, I retired

immediately as the cloath was removed.

The people on the island crowded to see me; they gazed with apparent astonishment桰 suppose at my

dress, for white women could not be a novelty to them, as there were several among the unhappy

people sent out here by government, one of whom is now upon the island.

Seeing so many of my own sex, though of different complexions from myself, attired in their native

garbs, was a scene equally new to me, and my delicacy, I confess, was not a little hurt at times.

Many among them appeared of superior rank, at least I concluded so from the preferable way in which

they were clad; nor was I wrong in my conjecture, for upon enquiring who they were, was informed

one was the woman, or mistress of Mr. 棗, another of Mr. B棗, and so on: I then understood that

every gentleman on the island had his lady.

While 1 was thus entertaining myself with my new acquaintances, two or three of the gentlemen left

their wine and joined me; among them was Mr. B棗, the agent, he in a very friendly manner begged

I would take a bed on shore.

I thanked him, and said, if agreeable to Mr. Falconbridge, I would have no objection: however,

Falconbridge objected, and gave me for reason that he had been unhandsomely treated, and was

determined to go on board the Lapwing, for he would not subject himself to any obligation to men

possessing such diabolical sentiments.

It was not proper for me to contradict him at this moment, as the heat of argument and the influence of

an over portion of wine had quickened and disconcerted his temper; I therefore submitted without

making any objection to come on board this tub of a vessel, which in point of size and cleanliness,

comes nigher a hog-trough than any thing else you can imagine.

Though I resolved to remonstrate the first seasonable opportunity, and to point out the likelihood of

endangering my health, should he persist to keep me in so confined a place.

This remonstrance I made the next morning, after passing a night of torment, but to no purpose; the

only consolation I got was,梐s soon as the settlers could be collected, he would have a house built on

shore, where they were to be fixed.

I honestly own my original resolutions of firmness was now warped at what I foresaw I was doomed to

suffer, by being imprisoned, for God knows how long, in a place so disgusting as this was, in my

opinion, at that time.

Conceive yourself pent up in a floating cage, without room either to walk about, stand erect, or even to

lay at length; exposed to the inclemency of the weather, having your eyes and ears momently offended

by acts of indecency, and language too horrible to relate梐dd to this a complication of filth, the stench

from which was continually assailing your nose, and then you will have a faint notion of the Lapwing


However, upon collecting myself, and recollecting there was no remedy but to make the best of my

situation, I begged the master (who slept upon deck in consequence of my coming on board) to have

the cabin thoroughly cleaned and washed with vinegar; intreated Falconbridge to let me go on shore

while it was doing, and hinted at the indecencies I saw and heard, and was promised they would be

prevented in future.

With these assurances I went on shore, not a little elated at the reprieve I was to enjoy for a few hours.

The gentlemen received me with every mark of attention and civility; indeed, I must be wanting in

sensibility, if my heart did not warm with gratitude to Messrs. Ballingall and Tilly, for their kindnesses

to me: the latter gentleman I am informed will succeed to the agency of the island; he is a genteel

young man, and I am told, very deservedly, a favourite with his employers.

Mr. Falconbridge this day sent a message to Elliotte Griffiths, the secretary of Naimbana, who is the

King of Sierra Leone, acquainting him with the purport of his mission, and begging to know when he

may be honored with an audience of his Majesty.

In the evening he received an answer, of which the following is a copy:

Robana Town.

KING Naimbana's compliments to Mr. Falconbridge, and will be glad to see him to-morrow.


A. E. Griffiths, Sec.

Such an immediate answer from a King, I considered a favorable omen, and a mark of condescension

in his Majesty, but the result you shall hear by and by; in the mean while, I must tell you what passed

the remainder of the day at Bance Island, and give, as far as my ideas will allow me, a description of

this factory.

We sat down to dinner with the same party as the first day, consisting of about fifteen in number; this

necessary ceremony ended, and towards the cool of the afternoon, I proposed walking for a while: Mr.

Tilly and a Mr. Barber offered to accompany and show me the island, which not being objected to, we

set out.

Adam's Town was the first place they took me to; it is so called from a native of that name, who has the

management of all the gramattos, or free black servants., but under the control of the Agent.

The whole town consists of a street with about twenty-five houses on each side: on the right of all is

Adam's house.

This building does not differ from the rest, except in size, being much more spacious than any other,

and being barracaded with a mud wall;梐ll of them are composed of thatch, wood, and clay,

something resembling our poor cottages, in many parts of England.

I went into several of them梥aw nothing that did not discover the occupiers to be very clean and neat;

in some was a block or two of wood, which served for chairs,梐 few wooden bowls or trenchers, and

perhaps a pewter bason and an iron pot, compleated the whole of their furniture.

In every house I was accosted by whoever we found at home, in the Timmany language Currea Yaa,

which signifies How do you do, mother ? the most respectful way they can address any person.

Leaving the town, we proceeded first to the burying ground for Europeans, and then to that for the

blacks; the only distinction between them was a few orange trees, that shaded two gravestones at the

former,梠ne in memory of a Mr. Knight, who had died here after residing fifteen years as Agent;

the other on the supposed grave of a Captain Tittle, who was murdered by one Signior Domingo, a

native chief, for (as Domingo asserts) being the cause of his son's death.

The circumstance leading to the murder, and of the murder itself, has been represented to me nearly in

the following words:

"One day while the son of Domingo was employed by Captain Tittle, as a gramatto, or pull-away boy,2

Tittle's hat by accident blew overboard, and he insisted that the boy should jump into the water and

swim after it, as the only means of saving his hat.

"The boy obstinately refused, saying, he could not swim, and he should either be drowned, or the

sharks would catch him; upon which Tittle pushed him into the water, and the poor boy was lost; but

whether devoured by sharks, or suffocated by water, is immaterial, he was never heard of, or seen after.

"The father, though sorely grieved for his son's death, was willing to consider it as accidental, and

requested Tittle would supply him with a small quantity of rum to make a cry or lamentation in their

country custom.

"The Captain, by promise, acquiesced to the demand, and sent him a cask; but, instead of spirit, filled

with emptyings from the tubs of his slaves.

"As soon as Domingo discovered this insult and imposition, he informed Tittle he must either submit to

the decision of a Palaver, or he would put him to death if ever an opportunity offered; but Tittle laughed

at these threats, and disregarded them, vauntingly threw himself into the way of Domingo梬hile the

trick played upon him, and the loss of his son were fresh in his memory.

"The African, however, instead of being daunted at the sight of this headstrong man, soon convinced

him he was serious: he had Tittle seized, and after confining him some time in irons, without food,

ordered him to be broken to death, which was executed under the inspection of the injured father, and

to the great joy and satisfaction of a multitude of spectators."

2 African term for an Oar-man.

Not a sentence or hint of the affair is mentioned on the tombstone; the reason assigned for the

omission, was a wish to obliterate the melancholy catastrophe, and a fear lest the record might be the

means of kindling animosities at a future day.

Now, although I cannot without horror contemplate on the untimely end of this man, yet he assuredly in

some degree merited it, if the account I have heard, and just now related to you, be true, which I have

no reason to question; for he who unprovoked can wantonly rob a fellow creature of his life, deserves

not life himself!

From the catacombs which lay at the south east end, we walked to the opposite point of the island, it is

no great distance, for the whole island is very little more than a fourth of a mile in length, and scarcely

a mile and a half in circumference.

Several rocks lay at a small distance from the shore at this end; they are by the natives called the

Devil's Rocks, from a superstitious opinion, that the old Gentleman resides either there or in the


Sammo, King of the Bulloms, comes to this place once a year to make a sacrifice and peace-offering to

his Infernal Majesty.

From this King Messrs. Andersons hold all their possessions here, and I understand they pay him an

annual tribute梑ut to what amount I cannot say.

The King comes in person to receive his dues, which are paid him in his canoe, for he never ventures to

put his foot on shore, as his Gree Greemen or fortunetellers have persuaded him the island will sink

under him, if ever he lands.

I am told at one time he suffered himself to be dragged up to the Factory House in his boat, but no

argument was strong enough to seduce him to disembark, for he did not consider he incurred the

penalty his prophets denounced while he continued in his canoe; though he could not avoid shewing

evident tokens of uneasiness; till he was safe afloat again.

We now returned to the Factory, or as it is otherwise called Bance Island House.

This building at a distance has a respectable and formidable appearance; nor is it much less so upon a

nearer investigation: I suppose it is about one hundred feet in length, and thirty in breadth, and contains

nine rooms, on one floor, under which are commodious large cellars and store rooms; to the right is the

kitchen, forge, &c. and to the left other necessary buildings, all of country stone, and surrounded with a

prodigious thick lofty wall.

There was formerly a fortification in front of those houses, which was destroyed by a French frigate

during the last war; at present several pieces of cannon are planted in the same place, but without

embrasures or breast-work; behind the great house is the slave yard, and houses for accommodating the


Delicacy, perhaps, prevented the gentlemen from taking me to see them; but the room where we dined

looks directly into the yard.

Involuntarily I strolled to one of the windows a little before dinner, without the smallest suspicion of

what I was to see ; judge then what my astonishment and feelings were, at the sight of between two

and three hundred wretched victims, chained and parcelled out in circles, just satisfying the cravings of

nature from a trough of rice placed in the centre of each circle.

Offended modesty rebuked me with a blush for not hurrying my eyes from such disgusting scenes; but

whether fascinated by female curiosity, or whatever else, I could not withdraw myself for several

minutes梬hile I remarked some whose hair was withering with age, reluctantly tasting their food

and others thoughtless from youth, greedily devouring all before them; be assured I avoided the

prospects from this side of the house ever after.

Having prolonged the time till nine at night, we returned to our floating prison, and what with the

assiduity of the master in removing many inconveniencies, my mind being more at ease, want of rest

for two nights, and somewhat fatigued with the exercise of the day, 1 thank God, slept charmingly, and

the next morning we set sail for Robana, where we arrived about ten o'clock: I think it is called nine

miles from Bance Island.

We went on shore, and rather caught his Majesty by surprise, for he was quite in dishabille; and at our

approach retired in great haste.

I observed a person pass me in a loose white frock and trowsers, whom I would not have suspected for

a King! if he had not been pointed out to me.

Mr. Elliotte and the Queen met us; and after introducing her Majesty and himself, we were then

conducted to her house.

She behaved with much indifference, told me, in broken English, the King would come presently,

he was gone to pegininee woman house to dress himself.

After setting nigh half an hour, Naimbana made his appearance, and received us with seeming good

will: he was dressed in a purple embroidered coat, white sattin waistcoat and breeches, thread

stockings, and his left side emblazoned with a flaming star; his legs to be sure were harliquined, by a

number of holes in the stockings, through which his black skin appeared.

Compliments ended, Mr. Falconbridge acquainted him with his errand, by a repetition of what he wrote

the day before: and complained much of King Jemmy's injustice, in driving the settlers away, and

burning their town.

The The King answered through Elliotte, (for he speaks but little English) that Jemmy was partly

right梩he people had brought it on themselves; they had taken part with some Americans, with whom

Jemmy had a dispute, and through that means drew the ill will of this man upon them, who had

behaved, considering their conduct, as well as they merited; for he gave them three days notice before

he burned their town, that they might remove themselves and all their effects away; that he (Naimbana)

could not prudently re-establish them, except by consent of all the Chiefs梖or which purpose he must

call a court or palaver; but it would be seven or eight days before they could be collected; however he

would send a summons to the different parties directly, and give Falconbridge timely advice when they

were to meet.



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