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Población y sociedad

versión On-line ISSN 1852-8562

Poblac. soc. vol.27 no.2 San Miguel de Tucumán jun. 2020 


Cooking at Sea. Different forms of labor in the era of the Second Slavery

Cocinando en altamar. Diferentes formas de trabajo en la era de la Segunda Esclavitud

Melina Teubner1

1Department of History, University of Bern, Switzerland


This paper deals with various forms of labor in the 19th century. Although Brazil officially banned the slave trade, the first half of the 19th century did not bring a decline of this business. Rather, until at least 1851, large numbers of slaves were brought to Brazil. The structure of the slave trade was based on the labor needed to carry out the abduction of several million people. Slave ship cooks were responsible for feeding the people during their voyages, thus contributing to the infrastructure and reproduction of the slave trade. By using a micro-historical approach to examine the example of slave ship cooks, different forms of forced labor can be shown.

Keywords Slave trade; Second Slavery; Slave ship cooks; Labor history; Maritime history; Alimentation


Este artículo analiza diferentes formas de trabajo en el siglo 19. Aunque Brasil había prohibido oficialmente el tráfico esclavista, durante la primera mitad del siglo 19 no se percibe el declive de este negocio. Al contrario, al menos hasta 1851, grandes cantidades de esclavizados fueron llevados a Brasil. La estructura del tráfico esclavista estaba basada en la mano de obra que se necesitaba para llevar adelante la captura de varios millones de personas. Los cocineros de los barcos esclavistas eran responsables de la alimentación de las personas durante los viajes, contribuyendo así la la infraestructura y la reproducción de la trata. El trabajo examina la existencia de distintas formas de trabajo forzado, desde una perspectiva microhistórica y partiendo del ejemplo de los cocineros de estos barcos.

Palabras clave Trata esclavista; Segunda Esclavitud; Cocineros de barcos esclavistas; Historia del trabajo; Historia marítima; Alimentación


This essay focuses on the ambiguous position of the cook on board slave ships. During all phases of enslavement, the nutrition of the enslaved played a fundamental role, slave ship cooks and their assistants were responsible for preparing and distributing food.[1] Although many people did not survive the Middle Passage, the primary goal of the slave owners was to maintain the workforce of the enslaved and thus to secure their capital.[2] Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh have shown that seafarers were part of a heterogeneous group of marginalized workers who were responsible for the functioning of the slave trade, both in the ports and on board the ships. They referred to this Atlantic proletariat as motley crews (Rediker, 2017; 2019). Ships’ cooks were part of this subaltern labor force, which is still true today in some cases.

Through a micro-historical perspective of ship galleys, the parallel occurrence of heterogeneous forms of work in one place can be analyzed. The analysis is particularly interesting against the background of the more far-reaching developments of that period, which went hand in hand with the ban on the transatlantic slave trade and the emergence of the so-called Second Slavery and the creation of new forms of dependency and labor control. The discipline of Global Labor History focuses on these different forms of work and their mutual relationships (Van der Linden, 2008). Compared to older research, the concept of the worker has expanded and sees capitalism as combinable with forms of unfree labor (Komlosy, 2012; Beckert & Rockman, 2016; Welskopp, 2017). Unfree forms of labor can be integrated into the capitalist system and are not necessarily replaced by forms that are defined as “free” forms of labor by older studies. Therefore, studies by Seth Rockmann, for example, have pointed to an “interchangeability of different workers” who existed side by side in the capitalist system and could be used, combined and exchanged at will (Rockman, 2009: 7). This work and further studies have considerably expanded the definition of what we now understand under the umbrella term of capitalism.

Since Fernand Braudel’s ground-breaking study on the Mediterranean Sea, the importance of oceans has become an integral part of historical studies, which has led Philip Morgan to speak of a maritime turn (Braudel, 1987; Conrad, 2016; Morgan, 2010). The slave ship, the Middle Passage and the workers involved became a unit of analysis in many investigations of Atlantic history (Christopher, 2006; Rediker, 2007; Zeuske, 2009; Candido, 2010; Mustakeem, 2016).

Micro-history is extremely important for the investigation of the actors of the slave trade (Scott, 2000; Putman, 2006; Sanz & Zeuske, 2017). In contrast to the histories of actors described by historian Rebecca Scott as “the actors with a system-wide scope of operations” –influential slave traders, plantation owners and the financiers of the voyages– it is much more difficult to reconstruct the lives and daily routine of the marginalized mass of workers (Scott, 2000: 473; cf. Lima, 2013: 149). This is also evident according to the largest database in social history Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.[3] For many of the 35.000 voyages recorded in the database, the ship owners and captains are already known, but the workers in lower positions are not. The database is now entering a new phase to address this problem and will be expanded in the coming years under the leadership of David Eltis in a project entitled People of the Atlantic Slave Trade (PAST). This will include more biographical data on individuals involved in the slave trade.[4]

An excellent case study of the Brazilian slave trade is the reconstruction of the life story of the slave ship's cook Rufino José Maria, who achieved upward social mobility within Brazilian slave society: he went from being a slave, to being a slave ship’s cook and small trader before finally becoming a respected healer and preacher. This study was the first to highlight the importance of the position of the ship’s cook within the slave trade (Reis, Gomes & Carvalho, 2004; 2010). In most previous studies, slave ship cooks have been treated as part of the ship’s crew, but their importance has often been underestimated due to their low position in the crew hierarchy (Rodrigues, 2005; Rediker, 2007).

After Great Britain had banned the slave trade in 1807/1808, it soon became clear that other actors would not ban the trade as well and they would just replace the former role of the British in this business. In order to prevent this, binational treaties between Great Britain and other slave trading nations were signed. One of these treaties, signed between Portugal and Great Britain in 1815/17, banned slave trade north of the equator. As a part of this agreement, an Anglo-Luso-Brazilian court (commisão mista) was installed in Rio de Janeiro. Here slave traders were brought to court and captives found on board were freed. However, as long as slave trade took place on Portuguese territory, the treaty framework still tolerated it. After Brazil’s independence in 1822, this agreement became a problem for Brazil since the country did not want to relinquish their access to abducted slaves from Africa. However, continuing with the slave trade was not an option in the long run because the new nation had to be recognized by the British: Brazil would need to eventually introduce a ban on the slave trade. In 1826 Brazil and Great Britain concluded their own binational treaty which came into force in 1830 and was implemented into national law in Brazil the following year. With that, the entire slave trade was declared illegal. In the first years after the law was passed, the business declined rapidly, but only for a short period. Brazil’s new role in the global coffee market created a continuing demand for labor. Therefore, slaves continued to be smuggled into Brazil until the 1850s. Millions of people continued to be trafficked, especially into the central south to produce immense quantities of coffee on large, well-organized, increasingly productive plantations. These slaves produced cash crops were exported to satisfy consumer interests in other parts of the world. The concept of Second Slavery, which was first used by Dale Tomich, shows the connection between slavery and the emergence of global capitalism (on the Second Slavery in general, see –with further references– Tomich, 2004; Tomich & Zeuske, 2008; Zeuske, 2018).

This period of transition shows that, the institutionalized form of slavery was not the only one to be replaced by free labor: other forms of forced labor existed and developed at the same time as transatlantic slavery ended and a newly structured slave system emerged.[5] It is assumed that, in addition to the legally recognized category slavery that guaranteed violence against human bodies, there were, and still are, many forms and manifestations of abuses, forced labor and lack of freedom. This study aims to show how the position of the ship’s cook was shaped and strengthened by such shift.

After the prohibition of the slave trade, coastal barracoons captured slave vessels at sea, interrogated the members of the crews and left behind records of the interrogation with very detailed descriptions of the materiality of the ship and the cook’s workplace. These interrogations show the ambiguous position of the ship’s cook between exploitation, the need to preserve the enslaved workforce and the possibility of starting a career in a business that was destined to disappear, but that still offered profitable options until 1850. Records of these interrogations were used as sources for the present analysis. Historical work on marginalized groups is generally hindered by the lack of written records. Through the analysis of material culture, recent studies in the field of cultural history have presented methods to approach these groups and their stocks of knowledge (Windus, 2013). Articles from mostly English language newspapers that reported on revolts on ships as well as on court cases related to the slave trade have also been referenced.

The first part of this essay will deal with the centrality of the ship’s kitchen for the success of the voyages and the reproduction of those on board. The second part will give an overview of the different actors, ambivalent working conditions and new forms of labor after the prohibition of the slave trade. The third part of the essay deals with the ambivalent position of the ship’s cook and his involvement in rebellions, which took place after the vessel was seized by the British. The paper aims to show the diversity of workers on board a slave ship by focusing on the history of the individual actors and linking this micro-historical approach with the macro dimension of the late transatlantic slave trade.

What was it like to work in a ship’s kitchen?

The galley was a central and important place on a slave ship where decisions were made about the success or failure of a voyage. Before the voyage began, slave owners were able to calculate which losses might result from poor hygienic conditions and an insufficient food supply. Kenneth W. Stikkers argues that British slave traders in the Caribbean chose to accept many deaths, both on the plantations and aboard ships, and found it more lucrative to replace slaves after a few years (Equiano, 2002; Stikkers, 2015). The strategy of Portuguese- Brazilian slave traders was increasingly different (Stikkers, 2015; Hertslet 1820).[6] Slave traders calculated possible death rates very carefully in order to achieve the highest possible profits. These exact calculations are described by Kenneth W. Stikkers as “the cold mathematical logic of the slave trade –the spirit of capitalism–” (Stikkers, 2015: 201). Calculations were made and scientific discussions were held about sufficient food on board slave ships; the slave trade therefore also became a calculable business in terms of food. In this field, as well as in other parts of the slave trade, efforts were made to reduce the influence of contingent factors as much as possible to make investments and balance sheets more calculable. In principle, the captives on the ships were subjected to unfathomable inhumane treatment. They were crammed together below deck, various forms of brutal violence were prevalent, captives were described using dehumanizing terminology, and people were deprived of any personal individuality, even their names (Rediker, 2007; 2017; Scott & Hébrard, 2014; Zeuske, 2015; Mustakeem, 2016.). But at the same time –and here lies a certain tension– the slave traders were not allowed to neglect the satisfaction of a number of basic needs of the captives in order to ensure their survival and to preserve the enslaved workforce. In this particular production process, the enslaved Africans functioned both as capital and as commodity (Zeuske, 2013). It was in this respect that the ship’s cook had a key function on board the ship. Captains hired cooks and also barber-surgeons (largely freed or enslaved Africans) to take care of the captives so that they would survive the most critical stage of slaving, the Middle Passage.

The importance of reproductive and care work for the capitalist system has long been marginalized. Access to Jobs is gendered, reproductive labor largely performed by women was not defined as work according to a classical Marxist definition of work (Komlosy, 2012; Löhrer, 2012). The importance of cooking in the context of a history of work has also often been underestimated, although “[...] cooking has probably been the most widespread and, overall, the most time-consuming expenditure of labor in all of history” (Osterhammel, 2009: 958). The preparation of food often takes place in the home and the reproductive labor is hidden. Even if this work was outsourced and paid for, such as on a slave ship, it remained characterized by its low ranking (Komlosy, 2012). In fact, the cook had one of the lowest ranking positions on board. Shipowners and captains delegated the task of cooking, which entailed strenuous physical activity and direct contact with the captives, to the workers of these lower ranks who, at best, contributed to maintaining social order on the ship and were an important part of the slave trade infrastructure.

The cook prepared food for hundreds of captives twice a day, which structured his daily routine on board. In the ship’s galley there was slaughtering, processing, cutting, peeling, fetching water, lighting the fire, heating, cooking, distributing and cleaning to ensure that both the captives and the crew could eat according to their rank. This work was carried out partly by the cook alone, partly with the help of female captives, although in a very limited space.[7] For the preparation of food, materials such as water pots, kettles, pans, sieves, mortars and pestles and, of course, the cook’s kitchen knife were on board. The staple foods were boiled in water until they had the consistency of a pap or polenta, at best, and supplemented with the beans, meat and spices (Falconbridge, 1788/1973; cf. Conrad, 1997; Reis, Gomes & Carvalho, 2010; Schiebinger, 2017). William Page, a sailor on the slave ship Kentucky, described this practice during an interrogation as follows:

“They [the captives] were fed twice a day with beans, farina, rice, and dried beef, all boiled together. At the first meal they had beans, farina, and rice together, and at the second meal dried beef and farina”.[8]

Depending on the ship, the captives were given some salted meat twice a week or, in the Portuguese-Brazilian slave trade, dried fish (for example bacalhau) as their main source of protein (Conrad, 1997; Reis, Gomes & Carvalho, 2010). On the slave ship Recuperador, food was eaten with a spoon directly from a large cauldron, around which seating was arranged for the captives.[9] The sailors on the slave ship Aracaty in Mozambique bought a large number of wooden spoons there with which the captives could eat their food.[10] The ship Nova Granada carried 24 small empty barrels in which margarine had previously been stored. When cut in half, they served as bowls.[11] On other ships, food was served in mess tins. Water was taken from the barrels with ladles and then distributed in tin cups, for example.[12] There are also some evidences that drinking straws (chupetas) were used to let the captives drink the water.[13]

Equipping a slave ship or, in some regions, hundreds of ships per season with food and water supplies required a certain infrastructure and food supplies from rural areas in the vicinity of the port of departure. The Brazilian slave ships stocked up on most of the food for the captives in Brazil, making them less dependent on the supply and harvest cycles on the African coasts.[14] In Minas Gerais, food production increased as the central south and its coffee plantations became the centre of 19th century slavery, which allowed this region to supply ships, plantations and the growing capital with food (Parron, 2015).[15]

Discussions regarding a needs-based food supply for slaves and seamen increased, especially in the second half of the 18th century. The French physician Jean Barthélemy Dazille, who had served the French navy and worked in the French colonies, tried to convince his readers in his paper Observations sur les maladies des nègres, leur causes, leurs traitemens et les moyens de les prévenir that it was not the warm climate, but above all the poor quality of the water and food that would cause so many slaves and seamen to die (Dazille, 1776; see also Williamson, 1817; cf. Schiebinger, 2017). Doctor Thomas Dancer also recommended strengthening the body with a “nourishing” diet rich in vegetables and “good soups of fresh meat” (Dancer, 1801: 233; cf. Schiebinger, 2017: 63). Such ideas about the importance of a better diet for slaves as a component of medical care were propagated by various actors in different regions of the Atlantic World and were also received, discussed and further developed in the Portuguese Empire (for Cuba see Zeuske, 2015; influence of Hippocratic teachings that appear here: Magalhães & Silva Santos, 2014). The Brazilian doctor José Antonio Viera de Carvalho from Minas Gerais translated Dazille’s writings into Portuguese so that the book and its additional notes could be published in Brazil (Dazille, 1801). The Portuguese doctor Luís Antonio de Oliveira Mendes published his study Memória a respeito dos escravos e tráfico da escravatura entre a costa d'Africa e Brasil about diseases that were common among African slaves about 12 years later than Dazille (Nogueira, 2011; 2012). He argued that changes in the environment (mudanças forçadas da natureza) could lead to diseases because people were used to the food and water in their environment. In doing so, he established a connection between the diseases and the places where they occurred (Nogueira, 2011). In his opinion, after air, nutrition was the most important aspect that contributed to people falling ill or staying healthy. The idea that a good diet would support the health of both the slaves and the sailors was therefore no longer a question, but was propagated by many doctors in the Atlantic World even before the 19th century. More controversial was the question of what this kind of diet should specifically look like and whether a supply of the recommended foods was available. Based on experience, daily rations were calculated according to which shipowners could plan.[16] Captains were asked by the financiers of the voyages to ensure that the slaves owned by the ship-owners did not receive less food than others. It was common for members of the crew to favor their own captives, which is why letters such as the following were addressed to the captain before the departure of the ship Prazeres:

[…] devendo não haver diferença na comida de um aos outros, nem figurar os oficiais e equipagem serem senhores de alguns, devendo-se fazer se persuadir todos pertencem a um senhor […].[17]

For example, Luis Antonio de Oliveira Mendes, believed that the captives would be better served with foods they were accustomed to, and tried to offer them at least familiar food staples (Christopher, 2006; Carney & Rosomoff, 2009). During the initial stages of the implementation of these diet regimens, both the enslaved people as well as sailors acted as test subjects for these doctors (Schiebinger, 2017). No matter how well the journeys were planned beforehand, the food carried along, which always leads a certain life of its own, could spoil and thus influence the course of the crossing (Latour, 1999; Miller, 2015). Objects found during slave vessels inspections were cataloged down to the smallest detail, giving insights into the daily routine on board. The materiality of the slave ship was thus incredibly important in order to later determine in the bination court of law whether the vessel was involved in the slave trade. The legal basis for these ship inspections were bilateral agreements that had been signed after the prohibition of the slave trade, which also allowed to inspect ships of other nations (Van der Linden, 2010). With regard to the equipment of the ships, the 1839 Equipment Act regulated inspection procedure and legal basis. The Act stated that in order to make a judgment about a ship’s involvement in the slave trade, captives did not necessarily have to be on board; the mere presence of items commonly used in the slave trade could suffice for such a judgment (Reis, Gomes & Carvalho, 2010: 193 see there in detail chapter 13 “Equipment Act” –p. 190-206– with a complete print of the legal text). It was in this context that the extended working space of the cooks was also scrutinized by the inspectors (Cf. Reis & Gomes & Carvalho, 2010: 194.).[18]

Kitchens are the “material requirements for cooking” (Barlösius, 2016: 126). Compared to merchant ships and immigrant transportation vessels, slave ships had to have much larger cooking facilities because there was a much larger number of people who had to be served. On immigrant transportation vessels that crossed the Atlantic from Bremerhaven in the 19th century it was common that the passengers on these ships were responsible for preparing their own food in small group-specific cooking areas (Fittkau 2010).

The cooking areas and ovens had to be designed to prepare food for several hundred people. Some of the cooking areas were relatively flexible and could be extended, or more cooking areas could be built. Different materials were used to build these additional cooking areas. Many slave ships carried wood, clay, stone, sand, and mortar.[19] Some of the stone cooking stations were covered with a layer of wood on the outside so that the cooking facility or ovens that were in the galley were less visible. The slave ship Kentucky, which was used in the illegal slave trade in 1845, was inspected by the British; the inspectors wrote that the cooking area was hidden and painted in such a way that it could only be recognized by people who were on board.[20]The construction of a slave ship was different from that of other ships, on which the galley was often accommodated below deck. This was a precautionary measure in case of a slave revolt and to protect against fires. The cook’s work area, which, as we will see later, offered many opportunities to arm rebels, was to be located as far away as possible from the male captives, who were believed to be a great danger (Carney & Rosomoff, 2009; Fittkau, 2010). Not all of the cooking areas were built by the ship’s own crew. Some shipowners also equipped their ships with stoves in the harbors. These could be bought in shops, dismantled, and then rebuilt on board. In port cities, shops had specialized in equipping ships. In November 1845, the owner of a shop located near the port of Rio de Janeiro at Rua de S. Pedro No. 88 advertised his iron stoves, which could be used both indoors and on board ships, in the Jornal do Commercio, one of Brazil’s daily newspapers.

These stoves, described by English inspectors as “new patent ones”, were considered more modern than stone stoves,[21] because they could retain heat much better. In addition to the practical design, the sales advertisement also touted the economy of the stoves: they needed only two bundles of wood a day. The aspect of wood consumption was very important, as firewood took up a large amount of loading space, especially because the fire was kept going the entire time.[22] On the slave ship Nova Granada the English inspectors found a total of 70,000 logs hidden between the water barrels, therefore giving it away as a slave ship.[23] From the middle of the 19th century onwards, more modern stoves came onto the market in the larger Brazilian cities, some of which used gas as a new fuel (Wätzold, 2011). However, the use of gas stoves did not become widespread until the end of the century (and therefore too late to have been used on most of the slave ships), when gas companies and stove manufacturers led a public advertising campaigns promoting better kitchen hygiene (see Silva, 2007; 2008).

Source: Jornal do Commercio, 15. November 1845.

Figure 1 Iron stoves  

Different forms of labor on board

The expansion of the business in the 19th century, even after the prohibition of the slave trade, caused a surge in demand for labor not only on plantations and in cities, but also in the general infrastructure of the slave trade. Between 1800 and 1850 alone, 2.05 million enslaved people were disembarked in Brazil on 4,728 known voyages.[24]

Because there was at least one cook on each of these voyages, it is clear that a considerable amount of people pursued this profession, even if we consider the possibility that in many of the voyages the cook was engaged in several voyages. This number is even higher when one considers the many women who were chosen from among the captives to support the cook; these women did not appear in official documents. Due to their low rank and position within the crew, the profession was open to many men (Morgan, 2010).

The crews on slave ships were very international. With regard to the Brazilian slave trade to Rio de Janeiro, Jaime Rodrigues shows that the men involved were from Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and, most often, Portugal. According to his analysis, 17% of the people who travelled between Africa and Brazil between 1780 and 1863 were born in Africa (Rodrigues, 2005:186-187). Most came from the main shipping ports of the Brazilian/Portuguese slave trade, meaning from the West- Central Africa (Congo/Angola), from West Africa (Bight of Benin) or from Mozambique. Ship owners had the opportunity to resort to various forms of labor when recruiting cooks. The use of slaves, however, was common practice (Candido, 2010:399-400; Rodrigues, 2005:186-187; 2013:15). The rental of ship cooks to captains or ship owners was extremely lucrative for the respective owners.[25] On the one hand, wages on slave ships were relatively high in comparison to working on merchant ships or the mainland. For a set period, it was a relatively safe job (Reis & Gomes & Carvalho, 2010:80). Another reason to work on board was the promise of becoming a small trader, mostly in palm oil and textiles (panos da costa), and, on rare occasion, even a slave trader. On the other hand, owners were relieved of the “duty of care”, meaning they did not have to invest money or time in the care and supervision of their slaves. This was also the case with the escravos de ganho, urban slaves, who lived and worked on the streets by their own. (Soares, 1988; Reis, 1997; Lopes dos Santos, 2010). This effort and the associated costs were not to be underestimated, especially in cities where housing was expensive and scarce.[26] Some of them after years of slave labor in Brazil, had been able to buy their freedom (alforria) or had received it at the owner's request, at death (Mamigonian, 2002). These forms of service slavery can be seen as intermediate forms of free and non-free work and show that these categories are to be understood as ideal types, although in practice there are many and fluid transitions (Reis, 1997: 359; Rockman, 2009; Van der Linden, 2016:5; Welskopp, 2017:206). Working within the infrastructure of the transatlantic slave trade offered some people a real perspective for a future after their time as slaves (Reis, 2008:88). However, the competition on the streets of Brazilian cities also helped to force people to accept poor working and contract conditions (Chalhoub, 2006:77).[27]

Table 1 Number of enslaved people embarked and disembarked in Brazil 1576-1875 


Newspapers were an important medium of the time that published not only reports about occurrences in the cities and the ships, but also advertisements for the sale or renting of slaves.[28] Slave ship cooks were rarely offered for sale or rent in the daily newspapers. This suggests that that most captains and shipowners had found their crews through recommendation, personal contact, or already knew them from earlier voyages. Captains and other higher ranked crew members also invested in slaves themselves.

After the prohibition of the slave trade, the handling of slaves working on board had to be regulated by law in order to determine how to deal with them in case their ships were seized. For example, according to these regulations, slaves were allowed to continue working on board ships because the legally acquired property of Brazilian slave owners was also protected on the open sea (Mamigonian, 2010).[29] However, this only applied if the crew slaves had been legally acquired: The owners had to be able to prove that the person had come into their possession before the ban on slave trade.[30] If this was not the case, the person could be placed “under the protection” of the English Navy if they were captured.[31] They received the legal status of a liberated African, (africanos livre. On them see Mamigonian, 2017). For a certain period in Brazil, 14 years by law, they had to work for a specified owner. Cooks on British control ships were partly recruited from this category.[32] It was a new form of long-term legal commitment to a specific person, which was enforced with the help of the states. The British had already experienced with this form of labor management, which were implemented beside “the spread of ideologies of free labor” (Lima, 2013: 153; Welskopp, 2017: 207; FN angeben).

This could also mean that after years at sea some seaman preferred life on the ship to other possibilities that opened up for them in the 19th century. The slave George, for example, preferred to continue working on the slave ship Emilia rather than being “freed” with the captives after the British had captured the ship and given the status of a liberto. Walther Hawthorne interpreted this to mean that George preferred the limited freedom of carrying trade goods in small quantities and the familiar community on the ship to a new form of forced labor. (Hawthorne, 2010; Rodrigues, 2013:175-176).[33]

Due to the new conditions on the Atlantic Ocean, the seizure of ships and the “spread of ideologies of free labor” led to discussions about the status of people employed as cooks with different legal status (Lima, 2013: 153). An example of these discussions, which dealt with further connections between freedom and lack of freedom, is that of the ship’s cook Antonio Ferrer. The case of Antonio Ferrer was brought to light by the incidents on the ship Panda, which was involved in piracy and slave trade. The ship had sailed from Havana to the coast of Africa to take up to 450 people on board. It was not the first voyage of the ship’s Captain Gibert, who is said to have been a well-known person in the mercantile houses in Havana. On the way there, the crew of the Panda raided the American merchant ship Mexican. Because news of the attack on the merchant ship spread quickly, the fugitive crew was arrested at Cape Lopez and its surroundings by the British naval ship Curlew. In 1834, the crew was presented to the judges in Salem (USA), the home port of the Mexican (Gibert, 1834: 44). George S. Hillard, who acted as defense counsel in the trial, made a special plea for the release of the ship’s cook and a fifteen-year-old cabin boy Nicolau Costa. In defence of Antonio Ferrer, George S. Hillard tried to convince the judges of his lack of freedom. He argued that it was possible that Antonio was not in fact a former slave (as noted on the crew list), but still a slave who had been included in the ship’s crew list deliberately. As a slave, however, he could not be held responsible for the criminal machinations of a captain (Gibert, 1834). The abolitionist newspaper The Liberator reported on the man in an article published on 31 January 1835. According to the article, Antonio Ferrer came from the hinterland of the Slave Coast of Guinea. Through the media interest in the case, we know more about him than about many other workers in a similar position. He had grown up in a village of 40 houses. When he was seven years old, he was stolen by human traffickers while gathering fruit in the mountains.[34] He was taken first to Spain and then to Havana. There he worked for several years to buy his freedom. Manumission through self-purchase, as Antonio had done, was a common practice in both Brazilian and Cuban 19th-century slavery (Silva Júnior, 2015. Cf. van der Linden, 2008; Drescher, 2009; Zeuske, 2013). His scars and body painting, by which he was recognized by a sailor on the ship, were from the time before his enslavement. This practice of scarification, which was widespread in some African cultures, disappeared in the African Diasporas in the Americas (see Lovejoy 2010). Referring to the origin of the scars, he explained that an older woman had come to his village, whereupon all the children of the community were brought to her to have the scars tattooed with a small knife. In court, he was advised by his defense counsel to declare himself a slave in order to escape a possible conviction that would have meant the death penalty (Gibert, 1834).

Antonio did not want to declare himself a slave again after his purchase of freedom. According to the newspaper report he said that he was not a slave, but had bought his freedom for $500 with money he had earned in Cuba. Therefore he would never say in court that he was a slave (“I will never say I am a slave. I have always refused to say it, and always shall”).[35] In the end, seven of the men were sentenced to death, Antonio Ferrer, however, was not one of them (Gibert, 1834). The jury followed the lawyer’s recommendations not to treat all members of the crew equally. The verdict stated that seafarers in lower positions did not have the same decision-making power as those in higher positions, although they were free by law. The defense counsel called the fifteen-year-old Costa (a free man) a “prisoner” because he had been at the mercy of the higher parts of the crew and could not leave the ship once it had left. The different legal categories were discussed very carefully in this court case. For example, the attorneys discussed the extent to which the temporary sale of labor for the time of the crossing was in practice different from slavery. Economic coercion could be as effective as direct physical force to make people temporarily accept dubious working conditions and the total control over their bodies by a captain (Rediker, 1987; Mintz, 1974; Frank, 2004; Platonina & Welskopp, 2011; Welskopp, 2017. See also Weber’s comments on self-motivation in Weber, 1980). The seafarers’ survival depended on “selling (or hiring out) their labor power to capital owners in industry” (Komlosy, 2012: 39).

Source: Dickenson 1859, S. 135.

Figure 2 Antonio Ferrer the Tattooed Cook  

As Frank notes,

there is a continuum between the raw coercion imposed on some slaves to force them to do work they would otherwise not do, running through a whole series of intermediate steps, to the opposite end where hunger rather than the whip compels people to do jobs they would not otherwise avoid (Frank, 2004: 25. Cf. Marx & Engels, 1848 –In Dowe & Klotzbach, 1990:66-67–).

Free wage labor, as in the case of the cabin boy, also means a temporary subordination, within which the owner of the labor force places his whole person under the control of the company for the duration of the working hours (Welskopp, 2017; Rediker, 1987). On the ship, it was not possible to separate work from leisure: Everyday life was structured according to the requirements of shipping and the freedom of movement of the individual was limited by the space of the ship. On the other hand, this meant being available to the captain for an unlimited period, which implied a subordination that went far beyond the duration of working hours, regardless of the legal status of the individual. This type of labor can be compared with services within the household, where an actual exchange ratio is difficult to control (Rockman, 2009). Nevertheless, it is a different understanding of work. Work in the household still refers to the concept of domesticitas (Welskopp, 2017: 212). Complete control over their bodies only ended when the voyage ended; until then, the crew’s freedom of movement remained very limited, even during stopovers. An incident on the slave ship Kentucky shows this very clearly.

On the ship Kentucky, which sailed from Rio de Janeiro to Inhambane (Mozambique) on the East African coast in February 1844 under the United States flag, a conflict arose between Captain Paulo Douglass and some crew members, as the former did not want to continue to employ some of the crew, but the latter did not want to leave the ship.[36] During stopovers, captains tried to get rid of personnel that they did not need at that moment, but which incur costs, and sometimes without paying them the previously agreed-upon payment (Stikkers, 2015). In these cases there was no way to go back home, because it was not until the 20th century that agreements were made that provided for workers to be repatriated in such cases (Gerstenberger & Welke, 2004). Douglass took the dismissed sailors to the Porpoise ship, where they were officially supposed to travel as passengers, but in reality, they were to do unpaid work. The men rejected this idea. The sailor William Page, on whose testimony the account of the events is largely based, and the cook William Patterson rowed ashore without permission. The next morning, they were arrested and punished with 86 lashes to the bare back, as Page told in a later interrogation. The Porpoise’s ship’s cook, Peter Johnson, was also able to report the incident later, although he was not immediately present, but had heard Patterson’s cries and later had also seen his wounds.[37] The harsh punishments set a precedent to deter potential ‘copycats’ from similar plans. The fact that the cook was also severely physically punished supports the findings of other studies, according to which the lowest ranking members of the crew, such as cooks and stewards, were the most frequently and often severely punished (Morgan, 2010: 325). It was a way of introducing the lower ranks into the discipline and cruelty of the business and at the same time to nip any rebellion in the bud. As a condition of reaching his high rank, even the captain himself had to go through this cruel tradition as he rose up the hierarchy on board. (Foucault, 2008; Rediker, 2010; Stikkers 2015). The captain’s power was not absolute, however. In order to ensure support among the higher-ranking men on board, he had to accept the crew’s structure of authority. For this reason, the punishment of the lowest crew members was most accepted as a way of showing who was in charge (Pietsch, 2016).

These forms of corporal punishment of some crew members were still the norm in the 19th century, creating a regime of violence on board the ships (Rediker, 2007; Eltis & Engerman, 2010; Stikkers, 2015). After having been flogged, both were held for 48 hours without food or water and then given only the bare necessities. Captain Douglass told them that they did not need to get their hopes up of appealing to any legal authorities other than himself, the captain of the ship (“‘Well,’ said he, ‘you may do as you have a mind to when you get to Rio or the States, but I am the Consul here, and have my own laws;’ that he did not care a d--n for the American Consul, nor for the American laws”). He continued by asking them the rhetorical question of whether or not they had intended to “take the law into their own hands”. The cook’s story shows the total control and the nearly unlimited power that captains had, both on board the ships and at some ports. In this context, the juridical category, did not play a role in the temporary control either, because in both cases the workers’ freedom of movement was completely restricted for a fixed period of time. It was not until after the voyage, if at all, that the captains had to render accounts to the financiers of the voyages. After the voyages, the legal status of seaman could again play a more important role when it came to the possibilities and access to justice; for example, to sue for unpaid wages or being unlawfully taken on board the ships, which was lucrative for press gangs everywhere. Some seamen took advantage of the possibility of access to justice, thus fighting for better working conditions within the slave trade.

Rebellious cooks and the kitchen knife

While the tool of the soup ladle symbolized the appeasement of the many captives on board, it is now the kitchen knife, as a symbol of the cook’s power, which takes center stage.

Rebellions on the ships were reported in detail especially in the English language press.[38] It is not possible to quantify the exact number of rebellions on ships. Far more rebellions are known for the British and US-American trade than for the Portuguese-Brazilian trade. In the slavevoyages database, only four rebellions for the Portuguese-Brazilian slave trade are recorded for the 19th century.[39] In contrast, approximately 500 have been recorded for the slave trade in general.[40] What greater impact rebellions had on the prohibition of the slave trade and slavery in general is the subject of an ongoing debate in research (Drescher 2010; see also Parron 2016). David Eltis and Stanley Engermann (2010) argue that the increasing and very accurate reporting in English and US-American newspapers on slave rebellions, which peaked at the end of the 18th century, had an impact on the attitudes of the readership. The extraordinary growth of newspaper culture in the United States and Great Britain was what made it possible for an interested readership to access information of these events. These often very detailed reports were written to illustrate the cruelty aboard slave ships for readers. They demonstrate how abolitionists were influenced by these events and vice versa, while at the same time pointing out the division regarding the question of abolition. As it has been illustrated with respect to cooks on the ships, not all ex-slaves became abolitionists after buying their own freedom, some even became involved in the slave trade themselves. There were cooks, for example, who participated in mutinies directed against the British after the ships had been captured, and therefore supported the slave traders.

Media attention was drawn to a case in which a rebellious ship’s cook and his allies were acquitted because they had been illegally arrested by the British Navy. On 2 March, 1845, cook Manus Majaval, (a Spanish man, who hoped for a career in the slave trade after he had flee from Spain)[41] left the ship’s galley to call on his colleagues to rebel from the deck with the cry “Mata!!!”.[42] Manus Majaval was the ship’s cook on the schooner Felicidade,[43] which left Salvador da Bahia on 6 January for Onim (in today’s Nigeria). After about a month of travelling, the crew had to be patient; they stayed in coastal waters to pass the time until enough slaves had been assembled to fill the holds of the ship (Basset Hewson & Fereira Santa Serva, 1846: 18).[44] There, the Felicidade was sighted, pursued, and seized by the English naval vessel Wasp, and the crew was finally brought aboard the English ship. Only Majaval and Captain Joaquim Antonio Cerquiera were able to return to their schooner the next day.[45] After a chase, the British captured another ship called Echo carrying 430 captives.[46] Some sailors, including Francisco Ferreira dos Santos Serva, the captain, were sent to the Felicidade that had already been captured. The English presence was weakened by the fact that three ships with the same number of sailors were to be taken to Sierra Leone to bring the ship there to trial.[47] This situation was exploited by Serva, who, in an unnoticed moment, presented his plan to recapture the ship to the motley crew. Although he was the initiator of the recapture, he himself did not directly take part in the fighting. Rather, the ship’s cook Manus Majaval was the driving force, although his actual superior, Cerqueira, did not support the rebellion.[48] Thus, after the order to kill all the English, Majaval also took the initiative himself. First, he rammed his kitchen knife into the body of officer Palma, then grabbed him by the legs and threw him overboard.[49] Other sailors also took up the fight and fought until they had killed all the English. After the revolt, the men cleaned the ship and threw everything overboard that could have indicated a previous presence of the English. Serva took control, wanting to take the ship to Santos (Brazil) to replace the lost ship for the owners of the Echo. However, the plan was never realized, the Felicidade was raised by another English ship. The men were finally arrested and tried in Plymouth (England).[50] The cook was to be sentenced to death for the murder of Palma. However, after a lengthy legal battle and a very skillful defense by the defendant’s lawyers, the judges decided that under existing law the Felicidade should not have been detained because there were no captives on board (Bethell, 1970).[51] This case demonstrates that the position of the ship’s cook was not exclusively occupied by slaves and former slaves, but that this position also seemed to be interesting for other people and was seen by them as an entry into a business with which enormous profits could be generated especially in the heyday of the 19th century.

Source: Michael Graham-Stewart collection, Royal Museums Greenwich

Figure 3 Janus Majaval unknown artist 1845  

Slave ship cooks held a very ambivalent position. As stated above, they were part of the crew, but at the same time they had contact to the captives. For this reason, they could play a decisive role for the recapture of a ship. The slave ship’s cook Palma, who coincidentally had the same name as the English officer killed by Majaval, opened the hatches for the captives and participated actively in their rebellion. In contrast to the rebellion against the English on the slave ship Felicidade, the cook had not only been persuaded to participate in the fight on deck, but the whole plan was his idea. He had a special closeness to the captives. Since the 241 male and 195 female captives had been brought on board at Novo Redondo, a port on the Angolan coast, he had been exclusively responsible for their care. On the slave ship Aventureira there were two cooks, one who cooked exclusively for the crew and Palma himself, who prepared food for the captives twice a day. On these occasions he was able to communicate with them, because although Palma’s mother tongue was Portuguese, he had acquired knowledge of various African languages through years of experience in transatlantic trade. Unfortunately, the sources do not indicate which specific languages he spoke, where he was born, or what his ethnic background was.[52] He used the captives’ need, “an ardent desire to return to their own country”, as the English later put it, for his own ends.[53] Rebellions already in the first days after departure were not uncommon according to this statement, and captains exercised special caution during this time. By stirring up further fears, Palma is said to have set the rebellion in motion. He told the captives “that they would be taken to a distant part of the world, and there ill-treated; and also, that it was doubtful if the water would last the voyage.”[54] The cook’s interest was to recapture the ship, while the captives rebelled against their enslavement and wanted to escape the inhumane conditions below deck. In this sense, the cook tried to manipulate the captives by allying himself with them in order to get rid of the English on board.

One day, while five of the rest of the crew were eating, no one expected an attack and Palma seized the moment. During this time, he was relatively unobserved and freed some of the captives; he then proceeded to stab the surprised crew members with his kitchen knife, wounding them. Led by Palma, the captives also took part in the fight using kitchen utensils like pieces of firewood Palma had given them.[55] Nevertheless, the rebellion was unsuccessful because the British sailors, who had noticed the commotion, came to the aid of their fellow crew members. The insurgents, equipped with kitchen knives, firewood and other kitchen utensils, had no chance against firearms and ultimately lost the battle. Having been seriously wounded, Palma was taken to a hospital in Jamestown on Santa Helena. After the rebellion, the situation of the slaves on board was restricted even more because of the danger they posed. During the day, only a few of them were allowed on the upper deck together, and after 6 pm the entrance to the slave deck was closed.

Not only were chickens, goats, sheep, and pigs killed on slave ships, but some members of the British Navy met the same fate. Manus Majaval, for example, fatally wounded the English officer Palma with his kitchen knife during the above-mentioned rebellion on the ship Felicidade. The kitchen knife also played a decisive role in the rebellion against the British on the slave ship Aventuera. Since the British understandably strove to prevent rebellions as much as possible, access to weapons was blocked for the crew members of the seized ship. Various items from the kitchen, however, could – if misused – endanger the lives of potential enemies on the ship. These cases indicate that the integration of the cooks through corporal punishment was effective.


The analysis of this heterogeneous group of workers has shown that the ideal types of the free worker, on the one hand, and the unfree worker, on the other hand, by no means adequately represent the manifold forms of labor in 19th century ship galleys. By focusing on the materiality of the galley, it is possible to gain insights into the knowledge of groups that have left almost no record of themselves, but who were indispensable for the infrastructure of the slave trade. The theoretical possibility of upward mobility within the slave society, which opened up the possibility of relatively high wages on board, the hope of additionally working as a small trader or perhaps even making it to a high position on board, ensured the supply of workers in the infrastructure of the slave trade and made the nineteenth-century slave system function.

Despite the theoretical possibility, the vast majority of ship workers lived in slavery, in slavery-like conditions, or at least in extremely precarious and dependent working conditions, their entire lives (cf. Imbusch, 2017). It is precisely the diverse forms of labor (enslaved, freed or free) that can be found on board after the official ban on the slave trade that make it possible to analyze the history of slavery with a broader perspective. An approach that brings this enormous variety of labor relations on board a ship in dialogue with other parts of the world and other epochs promises to be a fruitful one for future studies.


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[1]On the concept of slaving see Miller (2012); Zeuske (2015: 18).

[2]On the difference between slavery and annihilation through labor see Löhrer (2012: 23).

[3]A good overview as well as detailed information on individual journeys and thus an impression of the quantitative extent of the slave trade is provided by the socio-historical database Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, in which over 35,000 journeys are recorded (available at: (last viewed on 28.09.2018).

[4]Elaine Justice, Mellon grant to Emory will help provide new insights on slave trade (einsehbar unter:

[5]Michael Zeuske periodizes slavery in five “globalhistorische Sklavereiplateaus“, which break down as follows (Zeuske 2018,): “Erstes Sklavereiplateau ohne Menschenhandel (Beginn etwa 20.000/8.000 v.Chr.)“, “Zweites Sklavereiplateau (Beginn etwa 3. Jahrtausend v.Chr.)“, “Drittes Sklavereiplateau (Beginn etwa 1400 v.Chr.)“, “Viertes Sklavereiplateau – Abobitionsdiskurse, Bond-Sklaverei und Second Slaveries (Beginn um 1800)“, “Ein fünftes Sklavereiplateau (Beginn etwa um 1900)“.

[6]Hertslet, L. (1820) A Complete Collection of the Treaties and Conventions at Present Subsisting Between Great Britain & Foreign Powers: So Far as They Relate to Commerce and Navigation; to the Repression and Abolition of the Slave Trade; and to the Privileges and Interests of the Subjects of the High Contracting Parties. The Whole in English, and the Modern Treaties, and Most Important Documents, Also in the Foreign Languages in which They Were Signed, Volume 1, London: T. Egerton.

[7]As a general rule, kitchens on land at that time were also very simply furnished and equipped, as the traveler John Luccock records in his "Notes on Rio de Janeiro, and the southern parts of Brazil”, taken during a residence of ten years in that country, from 1808-1818 (Luccock, 1820: 121: “Kitchens have generally a large open chimney, and an oven; the hearth is about ten feet long, five broad, and three high; the fire-place consists of a range of partitions on the hearth, formed of bricks. These partitions are about two feet long, and a fire can be placed in any one of them alone; over the top of those in use bricks or stones are laid, with spaces or holes to allow the heat to reach the cooking-vessel, which is common a pan of earthenware, manufacted in the country. Neither grates, fire-irons, nor fenders are used; such furniture would be thought a superfluity and an incumbrance. A sort of fan, made of the leaves of the Palmtree, is used to quicken the fire, and well supplies the place of bellows. The dresser is a solid plank of wood, fixed at one end of the kitchen, and above it are a few shelves. On a stool, formed for the purpose, stand pots containing water, always ready for drinking or for other uses; and over them hangs a ladle, made of a Cocoa-nut shell, which serves to take the water from the pots as it is wanted, and as a drinking vessel for the slaves” (Cf. Frank, 2004: 36).

[8]HCPP, Class A, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade, 1845, Enclosure 2 in No. 201, Testimony of William Page, S. 514-519, p. 518.

[9]AHI, Coleções Especiais, Lata 27, Maço 3, Pasta 1, (Recuperador, 1839).

[10]AHI, Lata 2, Maço 1, Pasta 1, (Aracaty, 1842-1843).

[11]AHI, Coleções Especiais, Lata 23, Maço 1, Pasta1 (Nova Granada, 1844-1860).

[12]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade 1843 class A, Report of the Brazilian Brigantine “Bom Fim“; Silvio Nunez Burity, Master. 9. March 1842, p. 26-27.

[13]AHI, Coleções Especiais, Lata 25, Maço 2, (Paquete de Benguela, 1840); AHI, Coleções Especiais, Lata 26, Maço 5, (Pompeo, 1837-1839); Jornal do Commercio, 14. April 1841; Jornal do Commercio, 2 November 1844 (Processo da barca portuguesa Bella Angela).

[14]These were in any case less important for the main regions of Portuguese/Brazilian trade (i.e. the Congo-Angola region) than for the areas north of the equator. For the seasonal rhytms in food provisions see Behrendt (2009: 68). See also Miller (1988: 357); Curto (2004: 132-133).

[15]For works on manioc trade see Barickman (2003); Bezeraa (2011).

[16]For European history these phenomena are well researched. See e.g. Hierholzer, 2006: 36 (with reference to Rubner, 1908). The body was thought of as a machine. This is an idea that was already common in the 17th century. See Tanner (1999). Later, daily food rations were established that were based on the energy consumption of an average worker. See Carl von Voit’s dietary measure for an average worker: 118 g protein, 56 g fat and 500 g carbohydrates, together about 3,050 calories and enough water. Quoted according to Hierholzer (2006: 34); cf. Barlösius (2016: 60).

[17]AHI, Coleções Especiais, Lata 26, Maço 6, Pasta 2, (Prazeres, 1812).

[18]See: (seen on 20.4.2012).

[19]AHI, Lata 11, Maço 1, Pasta 1 (Dois Amigos); SV-Nr. 2904; HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade 1843 class A, Enclosure no. 28, Report of the Case of the Brazilian barque “Confidencia”, Manoel dos Santos Lara Master, p. 40.

[20]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade 1845, Class A, Enclosure 2 in No 201, Testimony of William Page, p. 518.

[21]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade 1845, Class A, Enclosure 5 in No. 252, “Evidence in the Case of the Bella Angella” June 19th, 1844, p. 585.

[22]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade 1845, Class A, Enclosure 2 in No 201, Testimony of William Page, p. 518.

[23]AHI, Coleções Especiais, Lata 23, Maço 1, Pasta1 (Nova Granada, 1844-1860).

[24]See (accessed on 16.02.2020).

[25]HCPP, Class A. Correspondence with the British commissioners relating to the slave trade 1841, Second Enclosure in No. 225, Report of the Case of the Portuguese Brig “Asseiceira” taken on the 31st December, 1840, off St. Sebastião, by Her Majesty´s Brigantine “Fawn”, with 332 slaves on board, p. 305.

[26]Zephyr L. Frank estimates that the annual cost of a slave in Rio de Janeiro around 1849 was $40,000 to $50,000. About half of these costs are said to have been spent on feeding the slaves (see Frank, 2004: 117). Maria Dias assumes 100 Réis per day and $20 for a simple diet of a slave in 1836 for the city of São Paulo. See Dias (1995: 82-83).

[27]Gerstenberger & Welke, 2004: 46: “Competition affects the labor market in such a way that seafarers are forced to accept all contractual conditions.”

[28]See for this Freyre (2015). On newspaper culture see Eltis & Engerman (2010: 149).

[29]See also the discussion about the captives of the slave ship Creole in the newspaper Jornal do Commercio of 13.05.1842, in which the opinion was expressed that the slaves on English soil should not have been freed because they belonged to an American owner. In Brazil, until 1888, people could be “legal, saleable private property”, which “master or mistress or a collective body as owner” could dispose of. See also Zeuske (2013: 115, 119).

[30]In concrete terms, this meant that as long as the slaves had not been taken from areas north of the equator after 1815/1817 or from areas south of the equator after 1831, the controllers were not entitled to free them with the slaves.

[31]National Archives Kew, FO 84/1433, Aureliano Coutinho to Hamilton, 24 January 1842, attached to Hamilton to Aberdeen, 22 February 1842.

[32]See the definition for africanos livres in Farias & Soares & Santos Gomes (2005: 131): „[...] africanos livres, [...], aqueles africanos que chegaram ao Rio depois do extinto do tráfico de escravos, e foram emancipados por estarem a bordo de navios capturados por tráfico clandestino, ou ainda por terem sido apreendidos em terra como africanos recém-importados.” See also Mamigonian (2017).

[33]What the concept of freedom meant for slaves is difficult to reconstruct. The historian Hebe Mattos argues that slaves equated autonomy with the concept of freedom, by which she meant in particular the absence of direct control and the possibility of spatial mobility (Mattos, 1998).

[34]On the enslavement of children in the Second Slavery see Zeuske (2015: 53, 161). In the 19th century the captives became younger and younger, so that many children were also taken on the crossings. On the abduction of people see van der Linden (2016: 291-322), here esp. 301-302. See also on raids, human trafficking and slavery Zeuske (2013: 261-297). [35] Liberator [Boston, Massachusetts] 31 Jan. 1835, W. „Antonio Ferrer“. [36], Voyage 3433; HCPP, Class A, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade, 1845, Enclosure 2 in No. 201, Testimony of William Page, p. 514-519.

[35]Liberator [Boston, Massachusetts] 31 Jan. 1835, W. „Antonio Ferrer“.

[36], Voyage 3433; HCPP, Class A, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade, 1845, Enclosure 2 in No. 201, Testimony of William Page, p. 514-519.

[37]HCPP, Class A, Correspondence with the British Commissioners relating to the slave trade, 1845, Enclosure 3 in No. 201, Testimony of Peter Johnson, p. 519-523.

[38]See Eltis & Engerman (2010: 149).

[39]The figures refer to the data collected in the Transatlantic Slave Trade Data Base (


[41]The spelling of the name varies in the sources between Janus and Manus.

[42]Trial of the Spanish Pirates, in: The Annual Register or a view of the History and Politics of the year 1845, London, 1846, pp. 355-365, here 361; The spectator, A weekly journal of news, politics, literature, and science 1845. Band 18, London, 1845, p. 727. [43] ( (inspected on 16.02.2018).

[43]( (inspected on 16.02.2018).

[44]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners and with foreign powers relative to the slave trade (Class A and D) 1845, Declaration of Captain Cerqueira, p. 71-72.

[45]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners and with foreign powers relative to the slave trade (Class A and D) 1845, Declaration of Captain Cerqueira, p. 71-72; Depoimento de Joaquim Antonio de Cerqueira mestre da escuna Brazileira Felicidade, perante o Jura de exter (*), Jornal do Commercio, 9. Oktober 1845, p. 1.

[46]Jornal do Commercio, October 7, 1845.

[47]Jornal do Commercio, October 9, 1845, Depoimento de Joaquim Antonio de Cerqueira mestre da escuna Brazileira Felicidade, perante o Jura de exter (*).

[48]HCPP, Correspondence with the British Commissioners and with foreign powers relative to the slave trade (Class A and D) 1845, Declaration of E.M. Rozegress, p. 73.

[49]O Mercantil, October 21, 1845; Depoimento de Joaquim Antonio Cerqueira, mestre da escuna brasileira Felicidade, perante o jury de Exeter, p. 2.

[50]Treze de Maio, December 20, 1845, p. 2.

[51]Trial of the Spanish Pirates, in: The Annual Register or a view of the History and Politics of the year 1845, London 1846, p. 355-365, here 365. The Aberdeen Act was only passed on 9 August, while the Felicidade had already been applied in March 1845 (Julgamento dos marinheiros da escuna brazileira - Felicidade-, Jornal do Commercio, 12, 09, 1845, p. 1).

[52]HCPP, Clss A. Correspondence with the British Commissioners at Sierra Leone, Havana, The Cape of Good Hope, Jamaica, Loanda, and the Cape Verde Island […] April 1850, to March 1851, Inclosure 2 in No. 183, Lieutenant Hodgkinson to Captain the Hon. G. F. Hastings., February 2, 1850, p. 246. On communication on the Atlantic and the role of middlemen see Graden (2004: 150-177).

[53]HCPP, Clss A. Correspondence with the British Commissioners at Sierra Leone, Havana, The Cape of Good Hope, Jamaica, Loanda, and the Cape Verde Island […] April 1850, to March 1851, Inclosure 2 in No. 183, Lieutenant Hodgkinson to Captain the Hon. G. F. Hastings., February 2, 1850, p. 246.

[54]HCPP, Clss A. Correspondence with the British Commissioners at Sierra Leone, Havana, The Cape of Good Hope, Jamaica, Loanda, and the Cape Verde Island […] April 1850, to March 1851, Inclosure 2 in No. 183, Lieutenant Hodgkinson to Captain the Hon. G. F. Hastings., February 2, 1850, p. 246.

[55]HCPP, Class A. Correspondence with the British Commissioners at Sierra Leone, Havana, The Cape of Good Hope, Jamaica, Loanda, and the Cape Verde Island [...] April 1850, to March 1851, Abstract of the brig “Aventureira”, p. 141. In the database the vessel is listed under the name Aventureiro (Voyage 4031). The captain “João Moreira de Camara” came from Brazil and had sailed with other slave ships in the years before. The other known voyages concerned the ships Nero 1847; Nereida 1848, Maria Cândida 1848.

Recibido: 01 de Junio de 2020; Aprobado: 03 de Noviembre de 2020

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