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Trevor Hall

of the sixteenth-century slave trading ship Santa Margarida in the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands. Not much else is known about Alemam except that on 27 December 1515 Luis Carneiro, a scribe in the Cape Verde customs house at Ribeira Grande, Santiago Island, described him as “captain.” This information appears in entries of the surviving 1513–1516 Cape Verde customs receipt book transcribed from the original Portuguese manuscript into English by historian Trevor Hall (Before Middle Passage, 2015). In outfitting a slave ship and paying customs duty on a captive he imported from West Africa, Alemam shows the growing involvement of non-Iberian Europeans in the early sixteenth-century slave trade in Cape Verde.

In 1462 another non Portuguese ship owner the Genoese Antonio de nolle Antonio de Noli had colonized the uninhabited Cape Verde Islands for Portugal transforming the islands into the center of the expanding Atlantic slave trade ...

Article

Kelly Boyer Sagert

Aaron Anthony was the seventh and youngest child of James and Ester Anthony. Neither parent could read or write, and the family eked out a living farming a plot of marshy land on the two-hundred-acre Hackton plantation, owned by relatives. The land was east of Tuckahoe Creek in the town known as Tuckahoe Neck, in Talbot County, Maryland.

Anthony's father died in 1769, leaving Ester and her seven offspring—five of whom were still children—to fend for themselves. Unlike his parents, Anthony learned to read, write, and calculate simple sums. As a young man working on cargo boats on the Choptank River and in Chesapeake Bay, he earned enough money to invest in property. In 1795 he gained employment as a captain at a salary of two hundred dollars per year, hauling and transporting both goods and people for the wealthy colonel Edward Lloyd IV who owned hundreds ...

Article

Barbara A. White

prosperous businessman, whaling captain, and community leader, whose court case against Nantucket led to the integration of the public schools, was a member of one of the largest and most influential black families on the island. His father was Seneca Boston, a manumitted slave, who was a self‐employed weaver. His mother was a Wampanoag Indian named Thankful Micah. They had four sons and one daughter. Absalom Boston, the third‐born, went to sea, as did many of Nantucket's young men, signing onto the whale ship Thomas in 1809 when he was twenty‐four. Little is known about his early education. Anna Gardner, in her memoir Harvest Gleanings, mentions him visiting her family and hints that it may have been her mother, Hannah Macy Gardner, who taught the young man to read.

Shortly before he went to sea, Boston married his first wife, Mary Spywood about whom little is ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Mixed‐race American sea captain who, as a champion of the abolition movement, journeyed to Britain in 1811 to meet sympathetic friends from the African Institution. Cuffee (also spelt Cuff, Cuffe, Cuffey) was born in Massachusetts to a manumitted slave, Cuffee Slocum, and a Native American, Ruth Moses. A committed Quaker, Cuffee was impassioned about the redemption of Africa: he aligned himself with the Colonization Society of America and the idea of a return to Africa of free African‐Americans. To this end, as a means of cutting off the slave trade at its source, Cuffee made two trips to Sierra Leone (see Sierra Leone settlers). To discuss his views on abolition and colonization with friends from the African Institution, Cuffee sailed to Britain, docking in Liverpool in 1811 Here and in London he met fellow abolitionists including the Duke of Gloucester who was president of the African ...

Article

Trevor Hall

Cape Verde Islands and ship captain who sailed vessels from the insular colony to nearby West Africa, from Senegal to Sierra Leone. Nothing is known about his family. He was renowned because he was the only known black ship captain in early sixteenth-century Portugal and its colonies off the West African mainland. As a ship captain he had to have been educated, because ship captains had to know how to read and write in order to read navigational charts, and plot the ship’s course. Captain Antonio Fernandes is known to have been a Christian, because of his Christian names and high profession.

According to the Cape Verde customs receipt book of 1513–1516, Antonio Fernandes captained the ship Santa Crara from the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands to nearby West Africa. After trading there the vessel returned to the Cape Verde colony with captive Africans and provisions of rice. On 10 ...

Article

Trevor Hall

some 300 miles (500 kilometers) off the coast of modern-day Senegal. Nothing is known about his family background; however, it is likely that, like most mulattos in the archipelago at that time, his mother was an enslaved black African and his father a free white Portuguese. His Christian names and the fact that he was free suggest he inherited his status from his Portuguese father. He traded merchandise from the Cape Verde colony with nearby West Africa. The reason for his renown is that his actions provide archival data on how Cape Verde colonists sailed to Africa and transported captive Africans, ivory, and food back to those islands. Most importantly, the historical record shows how the colonists declared human captives to the islands’ customs officers and then paid import duties on them.

On 6 February 1514 Joham Fernandes sailed into the customs house in Ribeira Grande Santiago Island capital ...

Article

Trevor Hall

Nothing is known about his family. His reason for renown is his 1503 voyage from France to Senegal, defying the Iberian monopoly over European maritime trade with West Africa. Captain Gonneville did not kidnap and enslave West African. He showed Africans that all Europeans did not capture Africans and enslave them in Europe and insular colonies from the Spanish Canaries to the Portuguese Azores, Madeiras, Cape Verdes, and São Tomé.

The French were the first Europeans to question the power of the Catholic Church to give West Africa to Portugal and America to Spain King François I said sarcastically where is it written in the will of Adam that Portugal has monopoly over West Africa Lyautey pp 5 6 The French maintained that no Christian nation has the authority to monopolize the seas and restrict trade with non Christian people whom they had not conquered Captain Gonneville sailed to the ...

Article

Erin D. Somerville

The first Englishman to transport African slaves across the Atlantic. The son of a sea merchant and Mayor of Plymouth, Hawkins inherited the family sea business after his father's death. After early voyages to the Canary Islands, he moved to London in 1560 to seek support for voyages to the West Indian colonies, then under tight Spanish control.

Hawkins's first slave trading voyage departed for the west coast of Africa in October 1562. Upon arrival in Upper Guinea, Hawkins raided Portuguese ships for African slaves and other merchandise. Three hundred slaves were brought to Hispaniola, where he illegally sold them to English planters. The financial gains of the expedition were so extensive that Queen Elizabeth I supported an equally profitable second voyage in 1564, which moved over 400 slaves from Sierra Leone. A third slaving voyage in 1567 also supported by the Queen was not as successful ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Monticello, Florida, one of nine children of John and Mary Isom. The farm the Isoms lived on consisted of sixty-eight acres, a portion of which was once sharecropped by Roger's grandfather. His father was an army veteran, as were six of his siblings. Ironically, when his mother asked Roger early on to consider attending the U.S. Naval Academy, he flatly refused. However, Isom later noted that “when my turn came to join the Army, I looked at the Navy instead, partly to compete with my older brother, and just to be different. I went to the Navy recruiter and said what can you do for me, I want to be an astronaut” (author's interview, 4 Mar. 2007). He subsequently enlisted in the navy in June 1983.

From his earliest navy days Isom both aspired to and was ...

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

sailor, was born on Union Island, St. Vincent, British West Indies, the son of a shipbuilder. As a child he attended St. Vincent Grammar School because his father wanted him to be an engineer. Mulzac himself wanted to be a sailor, a desire that became a passion when his father took him to visit HMS Good Hope in Kingston, Jamaica.

On completing grammar school Mulzac sailed as a seaman on the schooner Sunbeam, captained by his brother John. He subsequently sailed on a Norwegian ship from Barbados through the Caribbean and the Atlantic, again as a seaman. When the ship's captain invited Mulzac to church with him in Wilmington, North Carolina, Mulzac encountered his first taste of segregation when the sexton directed him to the black church some blocks away.

Mulzac received his training at Swansea Nautical College in South Wales and in New York City He ...

Article

Donald J. Ratcliffe

Riley, James (27 October 1777–18 March 1840), mariner, slave, and author, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Asher Riley, a farmer of reduced means, and Rebecca Sage, the daughter of an old Wethersfield family. Riley received a limited education, and from the age of eight he had to earn his keep helping local farmers. When he was fifteen, “tall and stout for my age,” Riley went to sea, working his way up until he gained command of his own ship at the age of twenty and subsequently acquired responsibility for trading the cargoes. Sailing mainly from New York, he made “voyages in all climates usually visited by American ships” and gained “a fair share of prosperity” ( Narrative, pp. 16–17). In January 1802 he married Phebe Miller, daughter of Hosea Miller and Mary Stow, with whom he had five children.

Like most American merchants ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

whaling master, was born in Barbados, the eldest of eight children of a Scottish sugar planter named Shorey, and an African Caribbean woman, Rosa Frazier, whom the younger Shorey's biographers have invariably described as a “beautiful creole lady” (Tompkins, 75). Some biographical sources incorrectly suggest that William was born either in Provincetown, Massachusetts, or in India. Although he was born free twenty-five years after slavery was abolished in the British West Indies, Shorey's prospects as a black man in Barbados were limited. He apprenticed for a while as a plumber on the island, but sometime in the mid-1870s, when he was still a teenager, Shorey found work as a cabin boy on a ship headed to Boston, Massachusetts. The English captain of the vessel quickly took to the eager, quick-witted, and adventurous lad and began to teach him navigation.

Upon arriving in New England Shorey ...

Article

Berkeley E. Tompkins

The San Francisco Chronicle described William Shorey in 1907 as “the only colored captain on the Pacific Coast.” He was born on the island of Barbados in 1859 and spent his childhood there. His father was a Scottish sugar planter on the Caribbean island, and his mother, Rosa Frazier, was a native Barbadian.

As the oldest of his mother's eight children it was necessary for Shorey to begin working at an early age. Although slavery had been abolished in Barbados several decades earlier, in 1834, opportunities for a young man like Shorey were still quite limited. He was apprenticed in his early teens to a plumber, but he found the drudgery of this job uncongenial. Strongly attracted to the sea, as were many young men raised on the island, Shorey said goodbye to his family in 1875 and shipped on a British vessel bound for Boston Massachusetts ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

U.S. naval officer and submarine commander, was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Johnny Watson, who worked at a printing plant, and Virginia Watson, a community liaison and teacher's aide. One of six children, Anthony John Watson was raised in the Cabrini-Green public housing community and attended Chicago's Lane Technical High School, where he was a starter on the football team. Upon graduating in 1966 he entered the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, and in June of that year he was recruited to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he became a “plebe” (first-year) midshipman.

Watson was one of only six African Americans to graduate in the class of 1970 at Annapolis. Indeed, at all of the nation's service academies by 1969 only 116 cadets were nonwhite Foner 211 Watson remained engaged in spite of the distractions and challenges faced by African American midshipmen at Annapolis in the late ...