SLAVE RESCUE SHIP H.M.S. "GORGON " AT VICTORIA, MAHÉ, SEYCHELLES
captioned, signed with initials "H.S." and date, 11 x 8¼ ins. 28 x 20.5 mm.
This rare image of the Bay showing the Capital Port Victoria in November 1861 is before much of it was destroyed in the great avalanche of November 1862. The Seychelles in 1861 were in the middle of a labour crisis. This was alleviated with the arrival on May 14th of a steam sloop of war H.M.S Lyra bringing slaves rescued from Arab Dhows in the Mozambique Channel.
Slavery had been abolished in the United Kingdom in 1807 but in the Seychelles it was a slow process and was not finally outlawed until 1835. The labour for Coconut Farming, Sugar and other crops, was by a moitié system, whereby the squatters or former slaves worked 3 days for the proprietors of the plantations and then 3 days for themselves. To make up for loss of manpower, Indentured labour had been sanctioned from India, but payment for transport was not forthcoming. Because of the convenience of the Seychelles for the Arab Slave routes, it became a rule to land any slave taken below the Equator in Mahé. This new arrangement revived the colony and the flagging agricultural industry. See Deryck Scarr The Seychelles since 1770 - Hurst 2000. A note written in biro with this drawing reads "Henry Sewell H.M.S. Gorgon 1859, died 9th May 1859 lived at The Priory North Curry Taunton retired July 29th 1882". He is llisted is listed as Ship's Paymaster in H.C.Devereaux's work Cruise of the Gorgon or Eighteen months H M.S.Gorgon, engaged in the suppression of the slave trade on the east coast of Africa : including a trip up the Zambesi with Dr. Livingstone, London 1869. The Gorgon was a wooden paddle sloop with 6 guns.
Stock ref: 14508