Montego Bay (Jamaica) - London: 1780-1781. Three Folio Manuscripts (ca. 44x28 cm, ca. 40x26 cm and ca. 36,5x22 cm) folded to Octavos. 3, 1 and 3 pp each. Each brown ink on watermarked laid paper, each docketed on the last blank page. Two signed by deponents and notaries, one with two tax stamps and a notarial seal. Fold marks, but overall very good and legible documents.
Interesting collection of three original manuscripts revealing the story of the voyage of British merchant brig Jane to the West Indies in 1780 and her experience of the Savanna-la-Mar Hurricane on 3 October 1780, during which she was considerably damaged and a large part of her cargo was lost. The documents include an affidavit, compiled in Montego Bay (Jamaica) on 10 January 1781 and signed by Jane’s Commander James Jones, first mate William Barrey and boatswain Sever Brown. The affidavit was witnessed before Samuel Mottershed, Esq., a Justice for the parish of Saint James; and certified by Ralph Montague, Notary Public in Montego Bay (St. James parish, Cornwall County, Jamaica). The other document is a notarially certified “Declaration of a protest”, compiled after Jane’s return to Britain. The document is signed by James Jones and William Barrey and certified by a London notary on 31 August 1781. The last document is a period copy of Jane’s portledge bill, for the period from 30 January to September 1781, listing twenty-six crew members (including captain), their station, length of service, and amount of wages due and paid.
The affidavit and declaration of protest give a detailed account of Jane’s voyage to the Caribbean and the circumstances of her damage during the notorious Savanna-la-Mar Hurricane which struck Montego Bay where Jane had been moored, on 3 October 1780. Jane arrived to Kingston from London on 1 August 1780, under the escort of HMS Thunderer and other men-of-war; later that month she sailed for the Black River where she received a cargo of logwood, mahogany and pimento. In Montego Bay she was additionally loaded with sugar and rum. Whilst there Jane experienced a severe storm, and in spite of the attempt to find asylum in the mouth of the Great River, the brig drag both anchors and was driven to a reef where she was struck against the rocks many times. The ship was a wreck and couldn’t be taken off the reef for another three weeks. The cargo, anchors and guns were reloaded in order to lighten the ship, and when the time came to reload, it turned out that a large part of the cargo had been “washed about the beach owing to sundry gales of wind <…> and many pieces buried in the sand.” In spite of the “utmost endeavours” some part of cargo were never recovered.
Jane returned to Montego Bay on 27 January 1781 and on 17 March left the West Indies for London, in a convoy of ninety merchantmen, protected by HMS Edmont Graffton, Trident Bristol and Endymion. The long, five-month return trip was perilous, with her taking “a great deal of water <…> so as to keep the pump almost constantly going.” The next day after arrival the captain filed the present declaration of protest at the office of a London notary which solemnly stated: “I do protest against the Seas and bad weather, and particularly against the Violent Hurricane which the said Ship met with in Jamaica when taking on board her said Cargo as above mentioned for all Loss and Damage happened to the said Brig and Cargo;” he declared “that when the said Brig begun to take in her said Cargo at Jamaica aforesaid She was tight Staunch and Strong <…> and provided with all things needful for such a Brig and Voyage. That as well During the time the said Brig was on Shore in Jamaica as aforesaid, as at all other times, he this appearer and the Rest of the said Brig’s Company Exorted [sic!] themselves to the utmost of their Power and used their utmost Endeavours to preserve the said Brig and Cargo from Damage, so that what Loss and Damage hath happened to the said Brig and Cargo was intirely [sic!] occasioned by the means aforesaid and not through any insufficiency in the said Brig neglect of him appearer or any of his mariners.”.
Price: $1,250.00 USD