THE STORY OF BLACKBIRDING
IN THE SOUTH SEAS
Yacht Wanderer from Plymouth on 11th July 1842. Waiting to welcome the Wanderer were four smaller vessels comprising a fleet of five, commanded by Captain William Boyd. This remarkable villain was born in Wigtownshire Scotland, in 1796, and carried on business as a stockbroker in London until 1840. He then floated the "Royal Bank of Australia" by selling debentures to the public for 340,000 pounds. Portion of this sum was spent in purchasing the Wanderer, together with the steamers Seahorse, Juno, and two smaller ships. After his arrival on the Wanderer, Boyd set up his office in Sydney, and was soon ready to start whaling, land-grabbing, and importing black labour.
In Three Colonies of Australia, Samuel Sidney, who had never visited Sydney, told the story of Australia as he had learnt it from a brother who had lived there for six years. Sidney blew the gaff on the celebrated Captain Ben Boyd, whom he describes in 1843 as owning a yacht, and flying the pennant of the Royal Yacht Squadron. "With apparently unlimited capital, an imposing personal appearance, fluent oratory, aristocratic connections, and a fair share of commercial astuteness acquired on the Stock Exchange, Boyd was deservedly placed at the head of the squattocracy. His aim was the possession of a million sheep. he was the chief of one hundred thousand sheepmen, with whom he combined to obtain fixity of tenure for their sheep pastures, to cut down small settlers, and to reduce wages."
New grazing land had been discovered in New South Wales in the area where the town of Deniliquin now stands, 468 miles south-west of Sydney. Unfortunately for Boyd, the year 1842, when he arrived in Sydney, was the prelude to the Great Depression of wool, wheat and wages. Because the mills of England were glutted with high-priced wool from Australia, the price of wool dropped, and many mill employees were dismissed. Europe was in the throes of revolutions and unemployment, so wool plummeted to sixpence a pound in Australia. Then came Boyd, the saviour who bought pastoral lands, stocked them with sheep and cattle, and offered to shepherds wages of 10 pounds a year, as against the standard wage 30 pounds a year. Wrote Mr Sidney: "Boyd was so unpopular with the working classes after these harsh measures that he could not venture to visit his stations until the time that the Police Magistrate with a guard of policemen took his annual round." Because starvation wages did not attract shepherds, Boyd got the brilliant idea of bringing men from the South Seas to work on his properties.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 21st April 1847 notes "the arrival in Sydney from the New Hebrides, via Boyd Town, of the schooner Velocity, 138 tons, Captain Kirsopp, who had obtained sixty-five able-bodied men. They had landed at Boyd town, and from there would be forwarded to Monaro, to be employed as shepherds. The Velocity has brought from Boyd Town 126 bales of wool," Boyd Town, 240 miles south of Sydney, had been started by Boyd as a whaling port, and as an outlet for wool grown on his stations in the Monaro and Deniliquin areas. This venture to the South Seas being a success, Captain Kirsopp returned to the New Hebrides on a similar mission, during which he obtained fifty-four men and three women for work on Boyd's stations. On 25ath September 1847 the Sydney Morning Herald announced "the arrival of the brig Portenia, 222 tons, Captain Lancaster, sixty-four natives, four native women, two native boys. They are strong healthy class of men, of a copper-coloured coast, with fine flaxen hair, and very much resemble the Chinese."
The Portenia was to be dispatched for a further supply of this cheap slave labour, as told in the Sydney Morning Herald of 20th December 1847. "Arrival, the barque Isabella Anna, 262 tons, Captain Bradley, from the New Hebrides (10 tons sandalwood). She touched at Tanna Isle during the voyage. The natives of these islands believe that all their countrymen brought to Sydney in the Felocity and Portenia have been murdered by white people; in consequence of which, according to ancient custom, a large number of women - the wives of men in the Colony - had been put to death. It was with difficulty that any of the natives of these islands could be persuaded to come on board - for fear of being brought away." And what happ3ened to these natives after their arrival at Deniliquin? An Englishman named John Phillips, in his Reminiscences of Native Life tells us something of their fate. Phillips left England in May 1840 by sailing ship for Port Phillips now Victoria, and arrived in Hobson's Bay in October of that year. His first night after leaving England was an unhappy one. In the turbulent English Channel "I fell into an open cask, which contained Plymouth eggs, into which I sand nearly to my armpits. I was a man of yolk, and eggshell, and some, I regret to say, were not so fresh as they might have been which added to my nausea." Worse still, he was unable to clean himself when he reached his cabin, so he stripped naked, even to his shoes, and tossed everything through the porthole into the open sea.
After many adventures pioneer Phillips reached the Ben Boyd lands of New South Wales, where he entered into partnership with J.G.Graves. Their only white neighbour was the manager for Ben Boyd's properties on Sand Hills station, four miles from Warbreccan, now Deniliquin, where Phillips had squatted. Phillips relates that Ben Boyd introduced a gang of natives from the South Sea Islands, intending to utilize them as shepherds. But on their arrival at San d Hills station, under the guidance and protection of a chief from their own tribe, they refused to heard the sheep, being frightened by the hostility of the aborigines, who, being jealous of "other once country blackfellows" killed them whenever they came across them unarmed. "The Fijians, numbering fifty or sixty, fed and domiciled in the large wool shed, kept idle, refusing to work singly, or move in a body, except armed with bows and arrows, also war clubs." Phillips relates how sometimes they would make an excursion en masse, all sixty of them, headed by their chief, to Warbreccan, across the Edward River. There Phillips would regale them "with butter, milk, and tobacco". IN return the Fijians would perform war-dances. "Ultimately," said Phillips, "Boyd was forced by the government to return them to their homes in the South Seas."
By May 1844 Boyd was one of the largest squatters in the country, with fourteen stations, totalling 2,180,000 acres. After several lawsuits, losses on woo, sheep and whaling, however, the shareholders of the Royal Bank of Australia lost all their capital, and also had to make up a deficiency of 80,000 pounds. Boyd was allowed to keep the Wanderer, and in October 1849 he sailed to the Californian gold-diggings. He failed to make a new fortune, and in June 1851 Boyd in the Wanderer departed from San Francisco for a voyage among the Pacific Islands. On 15th October he went ashore on one of the Solomon Islands to shoot game. He was never seen again. It is thought that he was killed soon after he landed. By pioneering blackbirding in the South Pacific, Boyd smoothed the way for other silver-tongued slave-stealers, who flooded Queensland with natives torn from their homes, seldom to return. The great demand for such labour came with the cotton shortage caused by the American Civil War, and the consequent boom in cotton production in Queensland. Thomas Dunbabin, in his Slavers of the South Seas, comments that when Abraham Lincoln entered reluctantly into the Civil War, which was to end in the freeing of slaves in the United States, he never dreamed that that very war, by providing a market for the labour of the South Sea Islanders, as to give a new impulse to blackbirding in the Pacific. commander Markham, in The Cruise of the Rosario, states that in 1866 Captain Towns's Queensland plantations raised 185,630 pounds of cotton, and continues: "These undertakings led to the extraordinary demand for labour, the supply of which became a most lucrative business." When that boom period ended the cotton fields of Queensland were ploughed up and replanted with sugar-cane and this industry kept up the demand for labour for some years.
Captain Towns, after whom Townsville was named, was the patron saint of planters employing slave labour. Born in Northumberland in 1794, he shipped on a collier trading between Shields and London, and, after studying navigation, he became first officer. According to Australian Men of Mark, he was only sixteen at that time, and by the age of eighteen was a captain. He saved enough money to build a vessel for himself, which was named The Brothers. By 1827 he was in Australian waters, where The Brothers was known as the best-managed ship between Australian ports. Six years later Captain Robert Towns married a sister of William Charles Wentworth, explorer and statesman. Towns settled in Sydney and employed many vessels in the Island trade, collecting sandalwood, beche-de-mer, coconut oil and other products. Towns began growing cotton on the Logan rifer, about forty miles from Brisbane. The Australian Encyclopaedia records that "in 1863 the schooner Black Dog brought 67 men to work on the cotton plantation of Robert Towns, near Brisbane; they were recruited by Ross Lewin, formerly of the royal Navy". Tom Dunbabin tells us that the Black Dog was the fastest vessel in the towns fleet, and had ten years earlier been running opium between India and China.
Ross Lewin was a sandalwood trader who lived on Tanna Island in the new Hebrides; how he met Robert Towns we do not know. Tom Dunbabin says that Lewin could neither read nor write, but what he lacked in knowledge of the three R's he made up in cunning. Strange to say, the only good word that was ever written about him appeared in a book by a missionary, The New Hebrides and Christian Missions, by Robert Street, D.D. It appears that the Tannamen had decided to kill the missionaries because their witch-doctors had warned them that the prevalence of hurricanes was due to the white man's teachings. Then came another hurricane at Port Resolution, where the Reverend James Paton was conducting a mission, and "thousands of natives surrounded his home at daylight yelling furiously. They discharged muskets, beat in the windows and door of the mission, broke open the boxes and helped themselves to the year's supplies. They then threatened to take Mr Paton's life, but as he was armed they retired. His faithful dogs on another occasion saved his life by facing the natives." Finally Mr Paton decided to seek refuge. "It was impossible to launch a boat, so Mr Paton fled with three natives to Mr Matheson's station, twelve miles distant."
While the two missionaries were holding a service on 2nd February 1862 they were warned of the approach of hostile natives. Next day a sail appeared, and it was resolved to abandon the mission. Flags of distress were hoisted and fires kindled on the shore to attract attention. Shortly afterwards an armed boat approached. Letters were brought to them from the Reverend John Geddie, who had heard of their danger, and had asked Captain Hastings and Mr Ross Lewin, who was on board, to afford any aid that might be required by the missionaries. So that's one good deed to the credit of Mr Ross Lewin. Three rare and little-brown documents in the Oxley Library in Brisbane throw new light on the activities of Captain towns and Ross Lewin. The first is a letter dated 29th May 1863, from Captain Towns to "Ross Lewin, second mate and recruiter". It begins: "Referring to our verbal agreement for your employment on the expedition of the Don Juan seeking natives to be employed on my cotton fields in Queensland, I now give you written instructions for your guidance, and as I understand you are no scholar, Captain Greuber will read them for you and explain what is required of you." Greuber was the captain of the Don Juan.
Captain Towns continues: "First you will call at such islands known to you and explain to the natives what your object is, namely to engage for me 50 to 100 native males. I prefer lads from 14 to 18 in preference to older men as the bulk. You must have some old hands in the lot, to induce the young ones to enlist. In engaging these people tell them exactly what they have to do, that is, work in the cotton fields. They will have good huts to live in, a kind master to protect them, and that you will return them within twelve months, perhaps in six, and that you will be on the station to explain and interpret for them, and that they will be paid in goods at the rate of ten shillings per month (over and above their rations).
"I presume that you will call at Leifoo or Ware first and then go on to Sandwich. I leave this for you and Captain Greuber to arrange. I also remind you that while on board ship you are to do the duty of second mate for which service you have signed the articles, and in which capacity you will be paid at the rate of five pounds per month.
"In conclusion I remind you of any earnest desire that the natives are treated with the greatest kindness and on no account allow them to be ill used by any person on board. I will be satisfied with fifty young men and boys if you can get them, but will be better pleased with seventy if the vessel can bring as many comfortably but on no account crowd them or delay the vessel for the purpose.
"You must do all you can to keep the natives in good humour and friendly and on good terms with each other. On no account allow them to quarrel or have any of their national disputes on board. Keep such quarrelling from them. If you find such taking place as once separate them and put up bulkheads between them. Take fare none of the old beach-combers, European sailors, smuggle on board with the natives."
Then comes a final word of warning. "You had better call at Leifoo before Hayes gets there and have before he may arrive." This reference can hardly be to Bully Hayes, who was running a hotel in New Zealand at the time. Leifoo was a village in the Loyalty Islands, east of New Caledonia. Then comes a final word of warning. "You had better call at Leifoo before Hayes gets there and leave before he may arrive." This reference can hardly be to bully Hayes, who was running a hotel in New Zealand at the time. Leifoo was a village in the Loyalty Islands, east of New Caledonia. The second document, dated 29th July 1863, was "Intended for any Missionary at such places as the Don Juan may call".
The last and most important document issued by Captain Robert towns was sailing instructions to the master of the Don Juan, Captain Greuber, dated 29th July 1863. This original document is in the possession of the Historical Society of Queensland. Captain Town s to Captain Greuber: "Your vessel is now ready with supplies sufficient for the voyage and return with natives. You will proceed to the Isle of Leifoo or such other island for the purpose of procuring natives for the cotton Fields with which you will return to Moreton Bay, where I will be waiting to receive you.
"The nature of your voyage is to proceed to the islands of Leifoo, Ware and Sandwich, and any other islands you wish for the purpose of selecting a useful class of men, lads and active boys.
Continued the benevolent Captain: "And you may mention to the missionary that it is my intention to bring over their wives next year if they like the place. I will make their wages for the best men equal to ten shillings per month. These natives will have every protection equal to Europeans in Queensland which is as warm a climate as they leave. This much you can tell the missionaries, and if they can find an interpreter I will gladly receive him and pay him for what he may be worth over and above his food and loading which I suppose will be little, but he will learn civilization. I mean to exchange these people every six months and bring over their wives and families with them when they get accustomed to the country and the work. "I have now advanced my views and intentions and leave you to carry them out. In conclusion I again repeat, on no account allow the natives to be ill-used. They are a poor timid unoffending race and require all the kindness you can give them when you lead them to anything, and I will not allow them to be driven."
Captain Towns was evidently out of touch with the Melanesians, when he called them "a poor timid unoffending race". Was he unaware of their record as killers and cannibals? His instructions to Captain Greuber concluded: "If you find it difficult to procure the natives through Mr Ross Lewin, you had better run over to Erromanga to Mr Henry's station and he may be able to assist you. In reporting your ship inwards from the Islands be sure to state the number, names and ages you have on hand for Mr Town's Cotton Plantation; let everything be clear in your proceedings. Mr Palmer, my agent in Queensland will have my instructions regarding you if I am not in Queensland. Use your utmost endeavours to bet over the ground and land the people as soon as possible. "You must be a little easy with Mr Ross Lewin, but if he fails to give your any satisfaction go to Mr Henry at Erromanga or Underwood at Aneityum and they will put a man on."
From my friend James Stapleton, State Librarian, the Oxley Memorial Library of Queensland, I hear that the story of the Don Juan's tour of Melanesian was told in the Queensland Daily guardian of 19th August 1863, as follows: "The schooner Don Juan, Captain Greuber, left Erromanga on the 4th inst., and anchored off the lightship at 9 p.m. The Don Juan has on board 73 South Sea Islanders for Captain Towns' cotton plantation. One of the Islanders died on Saturday from exhaustion caused by sea sickness He was buried at Mud Island. The agreement made with these men is, that they shall receive ten shillings a month, and have their food, clothes and shelter provided for them."
Lewin worked for Towns for four years. This notice appeared in the Brisbane Courier of 26th April 1867: "Sugar planters, Cotton growers and others: Henry Ross Lewin for many years engaged in trade in the South Seas Islands ... and for the last four years in the employment of Captain towns, having brought the natives now on Townsville plantation and superintended them during that time, begs to inform the public that he intends visiting the South Sea Islands and will be happy to receive orders for the importation of South Sea natives to work on the plantations in the colony. apply Henry Ross Lewin, opposite Donovan's Railway Hotel, Stanley Street, South Brisbane. Terms 7 pounds per man." Tom Dunbabin says that soon after this notice appeared Lewin was concerned in a curious kidnapping case at Tanna, in the New Hebrides. His armed boat's crew had seized a chief and refused to release him except in exchange for another native. The Tanna men brought down the chief's daughter Naxuyi, as a ransom for her father; she was dragged naked into the boat and the father was released.
Naxuyi was taken on board Lewin's ship, the Spunkie, and given to one of the boat's crew, a native who was nominally a Christian and already had a lawful wife. The Spunkie sailed for Brisbane, and there a letter purporting to be by Ross Lewin, but presumably written for him, was published. "In this letter Lewin described the recruiting trade as conducted with great regard to the liberty and happiness of he natives and as calculated to promote very much their improvement as well as to develop the resources of Queensland." A few days later, on 12th January 1869, Lewin was charged in the Brisbane Police Court, with a criminal assault on this Tanna girl. "Native witnesses told how the girl had been brought aboard and thrust into the hold amongst the native men and how she had been followed by Lewin, from whom the blackbirds fled in terror." It was decided that there was not enough evidence to go to a jury and Lewin was discharged, says Dumbabihhn, "to continue his work of uplifting the savages by selling them to the Queensland planters".
In 1868 the Queensland Government passed the Polynesian Labourers Act, in a half-hearted effort to supervise the recruitment of South Sea Islanders, usually called "kanakas", for labour in that state. Says the Australian Encyclopaedia: "The shortcomings of the Act were strikingly revealed in the famous Daphne case." This was in April 1869, when Captain George Palmer of H.M.S. Rosario, lying at Levuka, Fiji, witnessed the arrival of the Daphne, 49 tons, Captain Daggert, with a cargo of cannibals. With him was his partner, Pritchard, said to be also a partner of the notorious Ross Lewin. After inspection, interrogation, and research, Captain Palmer reported, "Pritchard handed me several papers, among which were licences from the Queensland government to procure fifty natives for settlers in that Colony. I then inquired how it was he did not take the fifty to Brisbane, and why double the number had been brought to Fiji?" Pritchard said that "on their arrival at Tanna with the one hundred natives from the Banks Group, they had all re-engaged to come to Fiji. I then demanded these re-engagements, and he handed me the papers. I then found they were dated at no particular place, and that the spaces left for that purpose had not been filled up."
While this paper-checking was going on, the British Consul, Mr Thurston, examined the log-book of the Daphne and found it to be a fraud. "On 14th March, when the re-engagements for the largest number of natives were supposed to be at Gana, the ship was at sea, under a double-reefed topsail, with the latitude and longitude given." No explanation could be given by the master for these errors, "and on further examination I found that the Queensland licence was made out in favour of the well-known Ross Lewin". Captain Palmer was amazed that this licence which authorized Ross Lewin to get fifty natives, was signed by the Colonial Secretary of Queensland, Mr. T.B. Stephens. Captain Palmer and the consul went on board the Daphne. "She was fitted up like an African slaver, minus the irons, with one hundred natives on board. They were stark naked; not even a mat to lie upon, the shelves were just the same as might be knocked up for a lot of pigs, and yet the vessel was inspected by a Government Officer in Queensland."
These unfortunates had been cooped up in this black hole of Calcutta for twenty-one days, since leaving the New Hebrides. The cabin where the one hundred natives lived measured less than thirty feet by sixteen; they lay on shelves, the space between which was thirty-three inches, or, above the highest, twenty-six inches only, to the deck beams. Captain Palmer found that Daggett had broken the law in several ways and arrested him, and also Pritchard, the supercargo. he then put a prize crew on the Daphne. This action scared the daylights out of Daggett and Pritchard. "They made a last attempt on me, by declaring they had meant no harm; that they would be ruined; that their families left in Tanna would starve; and that they wished Lewin had been hanged (to which I cordially assented) before they had seen him." On 20th April 1869 H.M.S. Rosario took the Daphne in tow and steamed outside the reef with her. "The next day I cast off well clear of the islands and made sail, both of us making the best way to Sydney." H.M.S. Rosario arrived there on 21st May, and the zealous Captain Palmer reported the capture of the Daphne on suspicion of slaving. He was informed that on her arrival the master and supercargo would be arrested and brought before the Water Police Court.
The Daphne was delayed by contrary winds and currents, and did not reach Sydney until 4th June. On 6th June the Crown Solicitor, Mr John Williams, told Captain Palmer that by keeping the people on the schooner he might lay himself open to an action for false imprisonment. So Daggett and Pritchard were let loose. Time marched on, and the Crown Solicitor informed Captain Palmer, "I am afraid we shall not be able to make out a case." fourteen days after the arrival of the Daphne, the matter and supercargo were arrested and taken before the magistrates. "I saw Mr Windeyer, the counsel employed by the Crown Solicitor, just five minutes before entering the court, and to judge by his questions he evidently knew as much about the matter as the man in the moon." Then "the dapper Mr Dalley", the prisoners' counsel, "very adroitly showed how the natives clung to their vessel upon my sending the Rosario's boats to land them and made me the kidnapper instead of Daggett".
The trial lasted two days. "It being my first appearance in a witness box I must have cut a sorry figure in comparison with old Daggett, who with long white hair and spectacles, seemed more like a missionary than master of the Daphne. It was a charming sight to see the dapper Mr Dalley, with his well-cut coat and white waistcoat, stand up to deliver his harangue, with his hat, lavender kid gloves, and cane before him." Said Mr Dalley, "It is monstrous that English vessels, while pursuing their lawful trade, cannot sail upon these seas in peace ... that they may at any moment be liable to capture by this Wilberforce of the Pacific." He ended by stating that it was "clearly proved that these native passengers were not slaves, nor intended to be dealt with as slaves", and therefore there was no case to send before a jury. Despite "a sensible address" by Mr Windeyer, the case was dismissed. Commented Captain Palmer: "The action I had taken seriously disturbed the arrangements of a great many influential men in Sydney, who were owners, or part-owners of plantations in Queensland, and whose pockets would suffer considerably if the traffic in natives were stopped."
Says the Australian Encyclopaedia: "No conviction was obtained, the court holding that the natives were not slaves. Moreover, since it was shown that a licence had been granted to Lewin, a notoriously brutal man, it seemed doubtful if the Queensland Government was really anxious to exercise effective control of the trade." tom Dunbabin, in Slavers of the South Seas, tells the epilogue "Later the case against the Daphne came on in the Vice-Admiralty Court and judgment was given against the seizure; Captain Palmer had, for his pains, to pay costs in the case before the vice-Admiralty Court." When Captain Palmer returned to England he wrote Kidnapping in the South Seas, in which he gave forthright opinions about the Daphne case, also about people who had all to gain by its dismissal, such as Sydney merchants and plantation owners who used native labour. After a lot of correspondence, Dunbabin tells us, Captain Palmer withdrew the expressions in the book reflecting on the Crown Law officers and others in Sydney, and undertook to expunge the paragraphs if his book went into another edition.
Such was life a century ago among the legal head-hunters of Sydney. Said Captain Palmer: "The expenses of the trial came to 179 pounds 5s. 5d., which I was assured the colony would not permit me to pay, but I had to do so, being unsuccessful in establishing my case." But the Lords of the Admiralty in London came good "by approving of my conduct, and ordering my expenses to be refunded, as well as giving me promotion". The arrival of bully Hayes at Tahiti with natives from Savage Island was noted in a letter from the British Consul, Mr Miller, to Lord Stanley on 16th December 1868. "There has been introduced by the brig Rona of Lyttelton, W.H. Hayes, master, about 150 natives of Savage Island under contract for service, who have not, to my knowledge, complained of having been deceived in their engagement or ill-treated during the voyage hither."
Basil Thomson's account, in his book Savage Island, of how Hayes secured a cargo of Savage Islanders by stratagem, has already been quoted. Sir Basil continues with the next episode of Bully's adventures. On 22nd March 1869 the Rona, Captain Hayes, sailed from Huahine, Society Islands, for California. At the same time and from the same port the brigantine Samoa, owned by Captain Hayes, sailed for the Navigators' Islands. On 4th April the Rona was making a lot of water, which increased next day as they made a run for Fanning Island, but they could not fetch it, so it was decided to run for Manihiki. Mr Kentledge Pritchard, United States consul for Fiji, was a passenger on the Rona. He was ill when he embarked, and gradually sank and died on 15th April 1869. By 15th May, says Thomson, the Rona had a surfeit of water in the hold, the water gaining on the pumps. Next day the Rona was abandoned, and the crew of twenty-one, in two boats, took twelve days to reach Reirson's Island. After resting for a few days they proceeded to Manihiki, where, to the astonishment of Captain Hayes, he found that his Samoa had been wrecked on the coral reef a month before, and the crew were on Manihiki. Thus two vessels, one bound east and the other west, belonging to the same owner, were lost, and both captains and crews met upon a remote and seldom visited island. The survivors reached Navigators' Islands on 20th August 1869, after a long and perilous voyage in a boat made from the wreck of the Samoa.
When Hayes reached Apia he leased the schooner Atlantic, and agreed to supply F.H. Severight with island labourers. The subsequent journey caused repercussions in London which continued for nearly five years. On 12th January 1870, several months after the Atlantic sailed, Mr Williams, the British Consul in Apia, convened a Court of Inquiry to look into the circumstances of her voyage. The findings were sent to the report, sent it to H.C. Rothery, Legal Adviser in the Treasury John Slave Trade matters. This worthy gentleman laboured mightily for several months, then submitted his thoughts to three brother barristers, before sending their joint report to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. But before we disclose the result of these investigations, which ran into thousands of words, I propose to give a brief account of the dirty doings of Bully Hayes which caused such an upsurge of horror in the British Treasury.
"In the month of September 1869," wrote Mr Rothery, "a Captain W.H. Hayes, whose character seems to have been well known in those seas, was at Apia, in Upolu, one of the group of the Samoa or Navigator Islands, when he was applied to by a person called Frederick Henry Severight, who had recently arrived from the Fiji Islands, with orders from several planters to procure labourers for them." Captain Hayes, as stated earlier, was without a vessel, but soon lased the schooner Atlantic from Betham and Moore, an English firm at Apia, in which he sailed on 12th October 1869, with Mr Severight on board. After touching at various places, they sighted Manihiki, or Humphrey's Island, on 12th November and there Hayes landed. Manihiki, 650 miles north of Rarotonga, is a typical atoll, with lagoon, reef, and small islets. It was discovered in October 1822 by Captain Patrickson of the Good Hope. Findlay's Directory of the South Pacific, published in 1884, states that the coconut palms "rise to a height of sixty feet, and render the island visible at twelve miles from a vessel's deck. The population of about 300 to 400 live on coconuts and fish. Each family has a number of trees allotted to them, and the lagoon is also partitioned among the people. They are an extremely well-conducted people and many of them speak the English language. The island is governed by a chief, who styles himself King."
With Hayes were Mary Jordan, her brother Joseph, who acted as interpreter, and Fred Severight. That same night the Atlantic drifted to sea and it was eight days before she again fetched the land. In the meantime, Captain Hayes, the Jordans, and Severight were lodged in the house of the missionary, Taiti. There they learnt that the islanders were anxious to proceed to the neighbouring island called Rakahanga, twenty-five miles away. Rakahanga, or Reirson's Island, has already appeared in this narrative. The Manihikians had a large quantity of coconuts, hats, and mats as presents for their neighbours, and when Hayes offered to take them to Rakahanga free of charge they gladly accepted his hospitality. Hayes proposed, too, that the whole settlement should go-men, women, and children. Before the return of the Atlantic, however, "Captain Hayes had begun to excite suspicion of the islanders by his having deflowered a child of tender years, and by his evident anxiety to get the whole of the female portion of the settlement on board". It was proposed by the elders that the women and girls should remain behind, and that only the males should go.
Hayes objected, telling them that it would not look well to pay a visit without their women, but his efforts failed. After they had taken twenty thousand coconuts on board the Atlantic, and a quantity of mats, Hayes made a final effort, which resulted in two little girls and eight boys coming on board the Atlantic. "The vessel then stood out to sea, and Hayes, for the first time, informed the natives on board that he was going to the Fiji Islands." Hayes now headed for Pukapuka or Danger Islands, 720 miles northwest of Rarotonga. Before arriving, Hayes inquired of an old man named Moete what he intended to say to any natives who might come on board. Having been told by him that he should say that they had been stolen from Manihiki, he ordered Moete and all the Manihikians to go below when they got near the island. He then fastened down the hatches upon them, and this course he adopted during the whole time he lay off Pukapuka. Hayes was not the first white man to set foot on Pukapuka, also the 'Danger Islands. The group got its sinister name on 21st June 1765 when Commodore Byron, on his voyage round the world, came upon them without warning. Twenty-one years passed, until April 1796 when the American sealer Otter arrived. On board was Thomas Muir, a Scottish lawyer, one of the group known to Australian history as "the Scottish Martyrs". He had been sentenced in 1793 to fourteen years' transportation for sedition, and had lived in Sydney until, in February 1796, he persuaded Captain Dorr of the Otter to help him escape. The attempt was successful, and the Otter headed for North America across the Pacific Ocean.
The story of the voyage has been told by my friend John Earnshaw, in his Thomas Muir, Scottish Martyr. Some of it was translated from a French version written by Pierre Peron, first mate of the Otter. John Earnshaw traces the voyage of the Otter to the main Tongan group, thence to the isle of Ratterdam (Anamooka) past the islands of Tongatabu and Eua. Later Savage Island (Niue) was seen in the distance. On 3rd April three small islands were sighted. Next morning Peron, Muir, and four others entered the ship's boat, and headed for a village they could see through the trees. Peron lifted the oars and by signs enticed the natives to come towards them. They remained undecided, then six of them, armed with spears and clubs, approached. five stopped at a distance, the sixth, holding a club in one hand and a branch of coconut palm in the other, came to the coral ledge. Thinking that the palm branch was a hospitable sign, Peron and Muir got out of the boat and stood on the coral. The sailors were ready to fire at the slightest sign of an attack. After more encouragement the natives accepted a few presents, but when the white men moved toward the huts they became alarmed, brandishing their spears and making signs that the visitors should return to their vessel.
Peron could not find these three islands on the charts, so he claimed the right to name them. He called the group the "Iles de la Loutre" (Otter Islands), after the ship, and the three islands individually "Peron and Muir", "Dorr", and "Brown". But Peron was wrong. From the position given by Peron, says John Earnshaw, the group can be identified as Pukapuka or Danger Islands, which Byron had discovered in 1765. On the modern chart the three islands are named Pukapuka, Motu Ko, and Motu Kotowa. Although the Otter was not the first vessel to sight this group, Peron and Muir were probably the first Europeans to land there. Onwards sailed the Otter to the North American mainland and out of the story, Readers wishing to know more about its journey may read it in my Scottish Martyrs.
We return to Pukapuka, where we left Bully Hayes seeking native labour. But his efforts failed, until Hayes induced a native missionary, Okotai, to use his influence "and it was ultimately arranged that nineteen of them, with their chief Pilote, should sign an agreement for a period of six months to pick cotton at Voilete, on the island of Upolu, but the chief was to remain for two months when he was to be taken back to Pukapuka, and if he was satisfied with the treatment they received Captain Hays was promised one hundred labourers." After Pilote and his men came on board the Atlantic he was told by Moete the story of their betrayal. "It was later found that Captain Hayes did not intend to carry out his engagement with them, for although the agreement, which was found among his papers, and which purports to have been signed by all the natives, is to work for a period of six months 'on the island of Upolu or any other island in the Upolu group', to which both Pukapuka and the Manihiki belong, there is very strong evidence that the agreement which Captain Hayes induced the Pukapukans to sign, whether with or without the connivance of the native missionary, Okotai, was to labour for a period of five years at Naitamba, in the Fiji Islands."
Both Mr Severight and Mr Powell the missionary, residents of Pago Pago in the island of Tutuila, another of the Samoan group, to which the Atlantic proceeded direct after leaving Pukapuka, spoke of having seen such an agreement, "and Mr Powerll states that he believes that the agreement which is among the papers, was forged by Captain Hayes, after his arrest by the natives of Manihiki and Pukapuka to go ashore and wash their clothes. Hayes also instructed Moore that he was not to let them escape. Moete ignored those instructions, and at once informed Manga, chief of Pago Pago, that he and his comrades had been stolen from their homes. "Manga told Mr Powell the missionary that it was his intention to seize the Atlantic and release the natives. Mr Powell warned him against the consequences of such violence, and then went away. No sooner had they gone than Mr Severight came to Mr Powell and confirmed the statement that the vessel was, as it is called, a Man-Stealer, and that the natives on her had been kidnapped."
When Mr Powell heard this news he suggested to Manga that he should tell the Manihikians that, if they had been stolen, not to return to the ship. In the meantime, the frightened natives had returned to the Atlantic. It was then arranged that Moete should go aboard the vessel, assemble the natives and advise them, on his giving a signal all to jump into the sea and swim ashore. "He did so, and on the signal being given, they all, except about ten of the more weakly, jumped into the water and swam ashore in safety. Those who remained behind were seized by Hayes and his crew and thrust below the deck." At this crucial moment, which ruined all the plans of Hayes, "the ship's boat with the mate and some of the crew were on shore taking fresh water, and Manga, finding that some of the natives were still detained on board, seized the boat and her crew. Hayes, hearing this, armed himself with revolvers, and taking a native boat proceeded to the shore. Manga, seeing the captain approach armed, and knowing his desperate character, ordered some of his men to put off in another boat with directions that when they got into shallow water they were to upsize the Captain's boat, and thus wet his powder. The stratagem succeeded, and Hayes being unable to use his revolvers, was easily overpowered and disarmed."
Mr Rothery's report continues: "Despite the Captain's previous conduct the natives treated him with kindness and consideration; they took him to Mr Powell's house and there lodged him. Manga now wrote to Mr Hunkin, Her Majesty's Consular Agent, resident at Leone, the capital of the island of Tutuila about fifteen miles distant, stating what he had done and asking for his immediate attendance. Mr Hunkin at first declined to attend, as he was under the impression that the Atlantic was an 'American vessel, but after getting a more urgent letter from Manga, and a letter from Captain Hayes saying that, although he was an American-born citizen, the vessel was British, and claiming the intervention, Mr Hunkin proceeded by boat to Pago Pago." Mr Hunkin arrived on 18th December and found Hayes still a prisoner, but well-treated. "After various negotiations," wrote Mr Rothery, "with which it is not necessary to trouble your Lordships, it was agreed that Captain Hayes and the vessel should be released to enable her to proceed to Apia, there to have the matter decided by the British Consul; but as the natives refused to trust themselves within his power, it was arranged that they should remain at Pago Pago pending a reference to the British Consul."
The crew of the Atlantic now feared to remain on board, believing that once Hayes was released he had no intention of going to Apia. Because of this hitch, "Mr Hunkin decided to send the vessel under the command of the mate to Apia to receive the consul's directions, retaining Captain Hayes with him. To save appearances, Captain Hayes requested that it might be given out that he remained as Mr Hunkin's visitor. The natives also remained at Pago Pago." the distance by sea from Pago Pago to Apia is eighty miles, according to a historical summary issued by the American Government at Pago Pago. The Atlantic arrived at Apia on 24th December, n charge of Mr Hussey, the mate. Mr Williams, the British Consul, then determined to take the vessel back to Pago Pago, and to bring the master and natives in her to Apia. On 9th January 1870 Mr Williams returned with them all to Apia, and on the twelfth of that month opened a Court of Inquiry into the circumstances. The Inquiry continued till 23rd January 1870 when, owing to Hayes having had a fit which confined him to his bed, it was suspended for some days. The Inquiry finished on 24th February 1870, when Consul Williams concluded that Hayes was guilty, and that the best course was to send him to Sydney.
SAMOA AND WILLIAM HENRY 'BULLY' HAYES
Because Apia, the principal port of Samoa, will figure in almost from now on, and because Bully Hayes made a home there for his family until his death, it is worth taking a look at its history. The first Europeans to visit Samoa were the Dutch, led by the navigator Jacob Roggeven, in July 1722. Roggeveen was the Commodore of a fleet of three Dutch vessels which sailed from Texel in Holland on 21st August 1721, hoping to find the Great South Land, Terra Australis Incognita. They were assisted by the charts of their fellow-countrymen, Schouten and Lemaire, and of Abel Tasman, who had voyaged in the Pacific during the seventeenth century. But huge tracts of the south Pacific Ocean were still a blank on the map of the world in 1722. The three Dutch ships sailed across the Atlantic to Brazil for food, water, and firewood, then headed for Cape Horn. It was a remarkable fear of navigation and seamanship for these vessels, smaller than today's Sydney Harbour ferries, to negotiate Cape Horn; they had to sail the south to sixty degrees of latitude among icebergs, heading into the howling westerlies that caused many sturdy vessels to founder.
Reaching the Pacific safely, they called at the isle of Juan Fernandez, later known as the home of Robinson Crusoe, before reaching on Easter Day 1722, a pin-point in the ocean which they named Easter Island. The isles of the Tuamotu Archipelago were their next landfall, one of their ships, the African Galley, was wrecked, and the survivors were transferred to the other two ships. The Polynesians of the Tuamotus resented the strangers, and ten white men lost their lives. The two vessels sailed westward, intending to pass through Torres Strait, first traversed by the Spaniards in 1606. Long before they reached it, however, they sighted the Samoan Islands. it was now July 1722, eleven months after their departure from Holland. Roggeveen named the group Bauman's Islands, in honour of the captain of the ship Tienhoven. The Dutchmen cruised inshore, but Roggeveen, after his unwelcome experience at the Tuamotus, decided not to land. His log remarks that the people were fair in colour, "very harmless good sort of people", who surrounded the ships in canoes and bartered fruit for beads and looking-glasses. He noticed also that they wore clothing of a "kind of silken stuff artificially wrought". This was tapa cloth. Such was the first recorded European discovery of Samoa. Roggeveen sailed westwards to Java, and out of our story.
The next European on the Samoan scene was the French navigator Bougainville. The Frenchman, with two ships, the Boudeuse and the Etoile, arrived at Tahiti on 2nd April 1768. The British commander, Samuel Wallis, had reached Tahiti a few months earlier, on 24th June 1767. The French explorers stayed at Tahiti four weeks, then resumed their voyage. They reached Samoa in May 1768, and anchored off shore while natives in canoes surrounded them. Onward went the Frenchmen to the New Hebrides where they tarried awhile. Later they continued westering until the Great Barrier Reef was sighted. They were then about sixty miles from the mainland of Australia. The third known European visitors to Samoa, and the first to set foot on its shores, were the men of La Perouse's expedition. His two frigates, the Boussole and the Astrolabe, left France in 1785 and sailed to Cape Horn, thence by way of the Sandwich Islands to the Pacific coast of North America, going as far north as Alaska. After cruising in Chinese and Japanese waters, the French arrived at Samoa in December 1787, nineteen years after the visit of their countryman, Bougainville. Seeking fresh food, wood, and water, they landed boat parties at Upolu Island, and later at Tutuila.
Tragedy befell the shore party at Tutuila; a mob of natives attacked them and twelve Frenchmen were killed. Among the dead were the Viconte de Langle, commander of the Antrolabe, and Monsieur de Lamanon, a scientist. The bodies of the French sailors were carried off by the Samoans before La Perouse could recover them, and it was wrongfully assumed they were eaten. But years later Christian missionaries found that the Samoans, not being cannibals, had decently buried the bodies. La Perouse was a humane man. The average navy captain would have sent a punitive expedition ashore to massacre the natives with musket fire. Instead, La Perouse weighted anchor and sailed away, noting in his journal: "I willingly abandon to others the task of writing the history of these barbarous people. A stay of twenty-four hours at Tutuila and the relation of our misfortunes, has sufficed to show their atrocious manners." From Samoa, La Perouse sailed south-west to Botany Bay, Australia, where in January 1788 he found Admiral Phillip and the First Fleet, just arrived from England. La Perouse sailed from Botany Bay on 10th March 1788, and was never heard of again until 1828, when relics of his two ships were found at Vanikoro in the Santa Cruz Islands. We shall hear more of this later.
In 1791 Captain Edward Edwards in H.M.S. Pandora searched Samoan shores for the mutineers of the Bounty, but he did not land. Frustrated, he sailed west until he wrecked the Pandora on the coral fangs of the Great Barrier Reef. Then came more French explorers, the corvetts Uranie and Physicienne, commanded by Louis de Freycinet. On board the Uranie, despite the fact that it was a breach of naval regulations, was Rose de Freycinet, the commander's wife. Rose was deeply in love with her husband, and with his connivance she disguised herself as a youth in trousers and shirt, walked aboard the Uranie, and stayed out of sight until after the warship had weighed anchor at Toulon. The date of the remarkable elopement was 17th September 1817. The French expedition followed the usual course across the Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro and east to Cape Town, then by way of Mauritius, Western Australia, Timor and New Guinea to the Isles of the Navigators.
It was here that Rose de Freycinet wrote a letter to her mother. The date was 21st October 1819. "Allow me, Madame, to announce to you that the corvette Uranie has discovered, to the east of the Navigators Archipelago, a little island that is not to be found on any of the most recent maps of these seas, and that the Commandant of the said corvette has named Rose Island. So now it is done, behold my name attached to a little point on the globe; very small, certainly, for the envious might perhaps call it only an islet; whatever it is, met at night-time it could have been fatal for us, instead of which, after this, marked on the expedition's charts, people will beware of it and nobody, I hope, will perish on the dangers that surround the Ile Rose." Alas for Rose and romance! Lady Bassett, who quotes the above letter in her Realms and Islands, notes that "Rose Island" had already been discovered and named. "Mr H.E. Maude, of the Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, advised that it was discovered 13th January 1722 by Jacob Roggeveen, who named it Vayle Eylandt." The name "Rose Island", however, is still used. The Pacific Islands year Book of 1944 describes the various islands of Western Samoa, which have an area of sixty square miles, and "also the small isolated double island known as Rose Island, which is uninhabited." For further information about Rose Atoll/Island
As for Rose de Freycinet, Lady Bassett tells the full story of her voyaging, of her return to France, and her death. Rose was thirty-seven when cholera invaded Paris in 1832 and struck her husband down. Devotedly nursed by Rose, he recovered; but the cholera attached Rose and in twenty-four hours she was dead. The scientific discovery of Samoa was made in 1839 by the United States Exploring Expedition commanded by Captain John Wilkes. This was the first official expedition from America, and it was thorough. Wilkes had a squadron of six warships and a staff of scientists and cartographers. The Samoan Islands were charted and examined by Wilkes, who adopted the name "Navigators' Islands" bestowed on her group by Bougainville. Since the, however, the name has given place to the native name "Samoa". The history of official exploration tells only part of the story. From 1790 onwards Samoa and Tahiti were visited by whaling ships and sailing vessels, British and American. Deserters from these ships and escaped convicts, such as on the Otter and the Cyprus, set up as beachcombers, or, in some cases, advisers to the tribal chiefs to assist them in their battles.
Then came sandalwood traders, missionaries, copra traders, and scallywags of many nations. Apia became the main port of call, and the primitive Paradise of the Pacific was gradually civilized and tamed. A record of some of these scallywags and wild white men of Samoa has been preserved in a book entitled Polynesian Reminiscences by W.T.Pritchard, published in London in 1866. Mr Pritchard was born in Tahiti, the son of a London Missionary Society missionary. Young Pritchard spoke perfect Samoan and heard his stories at first hand. He became British consul at Apia in 1856. He stated that "the first whites in Samoa were ruthless ruffians, who neither valued the life of a friend nor feared the arm of a foe". One of the decent whites of Samoa was Robert Louis Stevenson, who arrived at Apia with his wife and family on 7th December 1889.Soon we find Stevenson deep in the heart of a jungle, four hundred acres in area, where he established a sugar plantation. He named this property "Vailima", the place where he longed to be, the place he had found after a long search.
He made many friends among the Samoans, who called him "Tusitala", meaning "Word-spinner" or "Teller of Tales", and they built, unasked, a road of several miles from the sea-port to Vailima. A feast was held to celebrate the completion of the road, and Robert Louis Stevenson delivered a powerful oration, in the course of which he said, "I love Samoa and her people. I love the land; I have chosen it to be my home while I live, and my grave after I am dead." Tusitala's wish was granted. At sunset on 3rd December 1894, while standing on his veranda at Vailima, he suddenly clasped his head with both hands, saying, "What's that?" "That" was a cerebral haemorrhage. Five hours later Tusitala was beyond aid, and would tell no more tales. Next day Samoans from far and near arrived to cut a path through the jungle up the step slopes of Mount Vaea, and to dig the grave on its summit. At sunset the coffin containing Tusitala's worn body was carried up the mountain and laid to rest.
It was Easter 1956 when I climbed the rugged jungle track to Mount Vaea. Black tropical clouds assembled overhead as I scrambled over slippery tree-trunks lying athwart the track. suddenly lightning flashed, thunder roared, and the heavens wept copiously, as if the elements were uniting to prevent me reaching the hallowed area. Foot by foot I advanced, slipping back a foot for every yard I gained. Tenacity triumphed, and I reached the summit where branches formed an everlasting canopy over the grave. Etched on the mossy surface were the words: "Robert Louis Stevenson. Born 1850, died 1894." There followed the lines of his well-known "Requiem", and after my heart-beat came back to normal I set on a log and, while the rain poured, copied them in my soggy note-book.
Reader, please note! The surplus "the preceding "sea" on the second last line is not mine. Nor was it in Stevenson's original, which I have seen in his own handwriting in the Edinburgh Public Library. )He wrote the poem in San Francisco in 1880, and sent it to his friend Sidney Colvin.) The mistake is repeated on the memorial plaque to Stevenson at St Giles's, Edinburgh.
I could never understand why Stevenson did not write about Bully Hayes until I read Dr S.M. Lambert's interesting South Sea yarn, A Doctor in Paradise. Dr Lambert must have visited nearly every island in Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia, treating natives for leprosy, hookworm, another afflictions, and meeting all the hard cases, beachcombers, and retired traders wherever he went. One interesting place was Kuria, on the Gilbert Islands, "where it was my professional duty to confer with one of Robert Louis Stevenson's least appreciated characters, District Commissioner Murdock, who had emerged from the days of piracy. Stevenson had actively disliked Murdock; somewhere in his tales of Apamama and King Timbinoka, the novelist had referred to Murdock as a 'rat-faced Scotchman with a secretive disposition, and Timbinoka's cook'." The feud between the two Scots arose from "Murdock's refusal to tell of a thousand and one nights he had been concerned in. He had plenty of reason to keep his mouth shut, for at the time the other Scot was snooping for adventure stories, Murdock was a sort of business manager to the savage King who conquered Kuria and terrorized all the surrounding islands. Murdock had also acted as contact man between the terrible Timbinoka and the terrible Bully Hayes, pirate and blackbirder extraordinary."
Dr Lambert continues his yarn: "All the pirate I saw in Murdock was his flaring white moustache; the mouth below is stayed pretty tight, and he only granted, until I won him over with a fancy new spinner for his fishing." After this gift, the quiet Scot opened up and talked about himself. He told Lambert how he had come to the South Seas as a consumptive lad of nineteen, and had won Timbinila's heart by cooking him a good meal. From frying fish he had graduated into diplomacy, mostly with bully Hayes and his deals with Timbinoka. "Hayes would clean out whole islands and carry away the inhabitants to die in the fields and mines of Australia, Fiji and South America. As a side-line, he would swoop down on the pearl fisheries, gathering the pearls and the girls. Out at sea he would repaint his ship with a new set of colours, to fool pursuing naval vessels. He often hailed his trap with pretty girls. The ladies of Aitutaki were especially tempting, so he would take on a load of them and keep them in full view as he loitered by various islands. Then the native men, poor fools, would swim out, to be captured and chained."
Murdock's tales, as quoted by Dr Lambert, run on for pages. One tells how Bully Hayes carried a shipload of Timbinoka's warriors to another island to punish some of His Majesty's disobedient subjects, and Murdock went, too, as the King's agent. When Bully took captives he had the privilege of buying them from Timbinoka(Tembinoka). "The monarch prospered on his industry, and was a tyrant of the old school. Once he sent Murdock with three hundred slaves for coffee plantations in Mexico and Guatemala." Despite Murdock's refusal to tell Stevenson yarns about Bully Hayes, there were plenty of other yarns to be picked up about Pease, Lewin, and others of their kind, kidnapper and blackbirders who made the South Seas an unhealthy place to live for many. After this long dissertation about Stevenson, I return down the slippery slopes of Mount Vaea to the seaport of Apia, where once lived a minor celebrity, none other than Captain Bully Hayes.
* * * * *
The inquiry held by the British Consul, Williams, at Apia, terminated on 14th February 1870, as we have seen, with the Consul's conclusion that Hayes was guilty of the charges preferred against him, and that the best course was to refer the whole case to Sydney. "Knowing, however, the desperate character of the man, and having no peace to confine him, and being fairly convinced that, as soon as he know what the decisions was, he would make his escape at one", Williams delayed giving judgment. Because no one in Apia could be found bold enough to take the Atlantic to Sydney with Hayes on board, Rothery's account continues. "Mr Williams addressed a letter to Commodore Lambert, requesting his assistance for that purpose. Captain Hayes having some suspicion that it was intended to send him to Sydney, and being on his parole, thought it best to make his escape, and on 1st April 1870 he left the island in the brig Pioneer." The brig belonged to Ben Pease, of whom more later. After Hayes's departure, Rothery adds, the Atlantic, "seems to have remained in the Consul's hands, the owner Mr Betham, having refused to accept her on the conditions proposed by the Consul in a letter dated 12th March last. And by a letter from Mr Williams, dated 7th March, it seems that no less than seven of the Pukapukans had died, and that others were very ill from the change of diet, the food in their own islands consisting entirely of coconuts and fish. How many of their poor creatures survived, and what has become of them? There is nothing in these papers to show."
Such evidence confirmed Mr Rothery's opinion "that there can be no doubt that the charges preferred against Captain Hayes have been fully established". The first charge, as recorded by Rothery, was "that Hayes had taken the Manihikians away against their will, with the intention of disposing of them in the Fiji Islands". As regards the Pukapukans, the charge was "that Hayes had entered into an engagement with them to labour for six months on an island in the Samoan group. Instead, he was carrying them to the Fiji Islands." The evidence of the natives "was supported by Mr Severight, also by Mr Powell, the missionary. It is admitted by all the Captain's witnesses that when the Manihikians came on board they were under the impression that they were going to Rakahanga; that Captain Hayes ordered Jordan to take the young people down into the cabin, and it was then, for the first time that they learnt they were not going to Rakahanga." It was clear that Hayes must have intended to taken them to Fiji from the first, "seeing that the object of the voyage was to obtain native labour, and that Mr Severight, who was on board for the purpose, required that labour for the Fiji Islands". Rothery also draws attention to the "evidence given by Mr Powell of the existence of an agreement which Captain Hayes had fraudulently induced the Pukapukans to sign to work for him at the Fiji Islands".
Hayes's reputation added to the likelihood of his guilt: "Remembering took the unscrupulous deeds of Captain Hayes, who is described as being a man of desperate character, well known throughout the colonies, San Francisco, Sandwich Islands and China, whose career has been one of roguery, so that there are few parts of the world where he can go without being apprehended by the law. ..." All this brought Mr Rothery to conclude: "I think there can be little doubt that the intention of Hayes was, to take the natives of both islands against their wills to the Fiji Islands, there to force them to labour. Had he succeeded it may well be doubted whether any of them would ever have returned to their homes. There can be little doubt that Captain Hayes deserves the most severe punishment which the law allows."
Rothery had some comments to make on the subject of blackbirding in general: "The offence with which Hayes is charged, although not what is ordinarily called the Slave Trade - by which I mean the African Slave Trade - is in effect slave-trading in the larger sense of the term. It is the forcible carrying off of persons against their wills to be used as slaves. It is certainly much to be regretted that the Bill which it was proposed to bring in, and which formed the subject of my Report to Your Lordships of the 8th June last, has not been passed. it was expressly designed to meet a case of this kind, and there would have been no doubt as to the legality of the consul's proceedings, or as to the punishment which would have awaited Captain Hayes." There follows a list of relevant clauses in the Slave Trade consolidation Act of George IV, and the penalties for trafficking in slaves, including the words, "in every such case the person so offending shall be deemed to be guilty of piracy, and shall be punished accordingly".
Although the desired bill had not been passed, Rothery urged that action against Captain Hayes should be undertaken. "His offence is of such a heinous nature, and the evidence against him so strong, that it would be a cause of much regret if the were to escape with immunity." He did not think that Bully's American nationality would save him this time. "I should add that the fact that Captain Hayes was apparently a citizen of the United States would make no difference; he was at that time master of a British vessel, sailing under the British flag, and as such should be subject to British jurisdiction. Indeed in writing to the British Consular Agent in Tutuila, he admits his status of a British subject, as being in the same position as if English born." Rothery considered that Mr Williams, the British Consul at Apia, had been right in seizing the Atlantic, and would have been fully justified in sending her as well as her master for adjudication before the Courts at Sydney. he also praised the British Consular agent, Chief Manga of Pago Pago who captured the criminal, and Mr Powell of the London Mission Society, for their aid.
There were no kind words, however, for Messrs Betham and Moore, the owners of the Atlantic, though as far as I can see they were innocent in the matter. "it might be well also to ascertain what parts Messrs Betham and Moore, the owners of the vessel, have had in these transactions, and whether they were in any way parties to these nefarious proceedings; if so, they ought also to be put upon their trial." Over twenty years ago I included a yarn about Bully Hayes in my book, A Tale of Tahiti. Later I had a letter from Mr Arnold C. Reye, of Norseman, Western Australia. Here are some extracts: "I was born in Apia, Samoa, and have a very tender spot in my memory for the romance that surrounds the South Pacific. ... My great-grandfather, a Mr Betham, a one-time trader in Samoa, was on one occasion taken in by Hayes. The Captain filled his boat with Mr Betham's copra, then sailed away without paying. Years later, Hayes met my great-grandfather again, and offered to pay him for the copra, but he refused to accept it, saying it was blood money."
Rothery's report was concurred in by three legal luminaries. Messrs Collier, Coleridge, and Twiss. On the last page there was a firm recommendation: "Captain Hayes has escaped, but should he any time come under British jurisdiction, I venture to suggest that he should be arrested and at the same time placed upon his trial." The report was dated 16th October 1870. While Rothery had been writing it at Doctor's Commons, London, there had been more trouble for Williams at Apia over the Hayes affair. As stated earlier, the consul was unable to get anyone in Apia to sail the Atlantic to Sydney, so he wrote to Commodore Lambert for advice and assistance. Meanwhile, Hayes was on parole, living with his wife and family. Thomas Dunbabin writes in Slavers of the South Seas: "Williams who possessed no real force, did not quite know what to do with Hayes." He wanted to hold him until a British war vessel arrived in which Hayes could be sent to Sydney. "In the meantime he did not venture to put Hayes in the calaboose, but had him under surveillance." (There was in fact no calaboose in Apia.)
This was the state of affairs when Ben Pease arrived in the brig Pioneer. "Hayes pointed out to Williams that the chronometers of the Atlantic required checking, and secured permission to take them on board the Pioneer for that purpose. When the consul woke next day, the Pioneer had gone, and so had Hayes. It was All Fool's Day, April 1870." Consul Williams now had the sad job of explaining to his superior that the miscreant had escaped. He also reported to Lord Granville that the Pioneer was heavily armed with guns and breech-loading rifles and carried a large crew. Says A.T. Saunders: "The Pioneer was originally the Water-lily of Aberdeen. She got into Manila damaged in 1868, and was condemned and sold there."
While on the subject of Bully's escape from Apia, I fear that Consul Williams did not try too hard to restrain Bully from getting away. A.T. Saunders says that Williams and his family became very friendly with Hayes, and connived at his misdeeds. Commodore Goodenough reported to the Admiralty on 16th November 1874: "I was at Samoa in H.M.S. Pearl in November 1873. The ketch E.A. Williams was there under repairs. She belonged to the sons and daughters of Consul Williams, one of whom, Samuel Williams, is doing duty as Acting Consul under a warrant from his father. Samuel Williams told me nothing of his intentions regarding the ketch E.A. Williams, but gave me to understand that Hayes was a great rascal, and offered to obtain evidence against him. Yet, on 3rd December 1873, he actually enters into communication with this man against whom he pretended to give me information. I consider the whole affair as most unsatisfactory, even regarding Mr Williams as a trader. In the position of Her Majesty's Acting Consul I consider that he has been guilty of dishonest behaviour, rendering him unworthy to continue to occupy such a position."
Comments Mr Saunders: "And the Williams family of Apia, unworthy descendants of John Williams, were dismissed from the British Consular Service." John Williams, one of the most famous of the missionaries in the Pacific, was born on 29th June 1796 at Tottenham High Cross and grew up in London. He was apprenticed to an ironmonger, but at the age of eighteen he resolved to become a missionary. He was already an ardent worker for the London Missionary Society. After passing an examination, he was accepted for work in the South Sea Islands. With his wife, Mary and the three other missionaries, he sailed on 17th November 1816 in the ship Harriet for Sydney. There they lived until their departure in the brig Active for New Zealand and Tahiti in September 1817. Williams stayed at Eimeo, one of the Society Islands, learning the Polynesian language, and becoming popular with native chiefs. From Eimeo, John and Mary Williams went to Huahine and then to Raiatea, where his eloquent sermons in the local tongue won the friendship of the Polynesians. A chapel and schoolhouse were built, and on 12th May 1819 the chapel was opened and a new Code of Laws was read and adopted by popular vote. This Code included trial by jury, its first introduction in the South Seas. Williams also introduced the cultivation of sugar-cane and designed a sugar mill, turning the rollers in a lathe made by his own hands.
But John Williams needed new worlds to conquer. To attain his ends he needed a mission ship, and when his mother left him an inheritance he visited Sydney in search of suitable vessel. Evidence of his doings in Sydney can be found in Shipping Arrivals and Departures, published by John Cumpston in 1963, which records that on 30th August 1821 the schooner Endeavour, 61 tons, C. Wood, master, was launched from the yard of George Williams in George Street. She sailed on 5th February 1822 for Raiatea. A footnote to the above item states; "The Endeavour was purchased by the Reverend Mr Williams of the London Missionary Society for Tamatoa, the King of Raiatea, and the chiefs of the Leeward Society Islands." We return to the Dictionary of National Biography for further news of John Williams. While in Sydney, he engaged a manager to teach the natives the art of cultivating sugar and tobacco. The Endeavour arrived at Raiatea on 6th June 1822, and from there Williams sailed on 4th July 1823, in search of the famous isle of Rarotonga, "whose inhabitants were said to be the most ferocious in Polynesia". He failed in the first attempt, but his second was successful.
Then came bad news from Sydney. The governor had made fiscal regulations which reduced the value of South Sea produce. John Williams's hopes of making money as an island trader, by growing tobacco, were frustrated, and so the Endeavour was sent to Sydney to be sold in payment of his debts. In April 1827 we find Williams in Rarotonga, with his wife and two missionaries, beginning a translation of the bible into the Rarotongan language. Being unable to find transport to "Raiatea, after the completion of this task, the enthusiastic missionary resolved to build a vessel himself." This, though destitute of iron, he accomplished with marvellous ingenuity, constructing bellows for his fire out of goatskin, and when these were eaten by rats, making them of wood. Having no saw, the trees used were split by wedges, and, having no steering apparatus, bent planks were procured by splitting curved trunks. Cordage was made from the bark of the hibiscus; sails, of native matting; for oakum coconut husk was used; and the pintles (hinges) of the rudder were formed from a piece of pickaxe, a cooper's adze, and a large hoe." This curious but seaworthy contrivance was completed by the missionary and his native helpers in fifteen weeks. Sixty feet long and eighteen feet wide, it was named by its creator The Messenger of Peace. With native assistance, and anchors of wood and stone, it sailed to Aitutaki, a distance of 115 miles, returning with "a cargo of pigs, coconuts and cats". After the success of this journey, the dedicated ship builder saw new horizons in the distance, this time, Tahiti, a journey of eight hundred miles, which The Messenger of Peace safely accomplished.
Williams was now famous, and in June 1834 he went to England where he gave lectures about the cannibals of the South Seas, and the need for financial assistance and for a Missionary College for Rarotonga. In 1837 he published A Narrative of Missionary Enterprise in the South Sea Islands, which excited the interest of men of letters and of science, besides the enthusiasts for missions. Four thousand pounds was subscribed by the London Missionary Society to purchase and outfit the Camden, which sailed from Gravesend on 11th April, with John and Mary Williams, and sixteen other missionaries. Fortunately, John Williams was a careful observer and descriptive writer. In his book he preserved for posterity a record of his travels, and a valuable description of native customs.
When I visited Apia in Easter 1956 I paused to do homage at a granite monument in front of whitewashed church. An inscription in Samoan language was headed: "O IOANE VILIAMU - 24 OAKUSO, 1830" - meaning "John Williams" and "24th August 1830", the date of his arrival at Savaii Island, in Samoa. After visiting various islands in the South Pacific, he left his family at Apia, and sailed in the Camden to the New Hebrides, a group of islands that were beyond his previous fields of labour. It was journey's end for John Williams.
The story of their arrival in the Camden at the New Hebrides is told by George Cousins, in his From Island to Island in the South Seas. At Tanna, "the reception being favourable", three teachers were landed. The same evening Erromanga was sighted, and the Camden hove to for the night. Next morning she drew in towards shore, a boat was lowered, and a Mr Cunningham, with four sailors to row, pulled towards the land. "The natives seemed shy and very reserved, but were persuaded to receive beads, and also to bring coconuts and mats to the boat. Mr Harris asked permission to land, and when he did, the natives ran away. Upon his sitting down they returned with coconuts. After a time the others landed (except the boat's crew) and walked along the beach. A few minutes later there was a yell and Mr Harris was seen running, pursued by natives. These, catching him, felled him to the ground with clubs. Mr Williams and Mr Cunningham, also ran, the latter escaping with Captain Morgan to the boat; but the former stumbled when he reached the water, was clubbed to death and pierced with arrows."
This happened on 30th November 1839. The bodies of the dead missionaries lay upon the beach at Erromanga. Unable to secure the bodies, Captain Morgan made sail to Sydney. The Government sent the warship Favourtie to exact retribution, with Mr Cunningham, the surviving missionary, on board. "Some of the bones and skulls of the murdered missionaries were recovered. Their bodies had been eaten by the wretched natives. Subsequently the club by which Mr Williams had been felled was handed over to a missionary the chief who had struck the fatal blow. It transpired that the chief's son had been killed by foreign sailors a short time before, and he was resolved to have his revenge on the first white man he came across. Mr Harris's handkerchief was at the same time given up by the chief's wife." The Dictionary of National Biography gives a mighty tribute to John Williams, the Saint Paul of the Pacific: "Williams was the most successful missionary of modern times. He acquired the languages and adapted himself to the varying characters of the races he encountered in a manner most remarkable for a man of his defective education. He supplied his lack of training by great practical sagacity and by marvellous comprehension and toleration of alien modes of thought, but, above all, by single-hearted zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the native races, which they did not fail to perceive and appreciate. John Williams was survived by his widow, Mary, and their son, William.
As for Commodore James Graham Goodenough, who reported unfavourably on William's descendants, his service in the South Seas had a sad end. The Australian Encyclopaedia records that he was sent to the Pacific in 1873 to command the Australian station. One of his tasks was to report on the expediency of annexing the Fiji Islands to the British Crown, and as the result of his suggestions the islands were taken over in 1875. Because of the activities of slave-traders like Ross Lewin, Ben Pease and Bully Hayes, the Commodore visited the New Hebrides and other islands to promote more friendly relations with the natives. On 12th August 1875 his ship, the Pearl, was lying off Santa Cruz in the Solomons. "I am going on shore", wrote the commodore in his journal, "where the Sandfly was last year, to see if I can't make friends with the unfortunates, who seem most friendly and anxious to be civil, by coming out in canoes, and looking as if they wished to please." The commodore went ashore at Carlisle Bay with two boats, but when he saw scores of natives coming out in canoes he made signals to the Pearl to send another boat. The commodore gave the natives presents of calico and a knife, and in return one old fellow gave him a yam.
"They then began to beckon us to their village and went with all precautions, keeping our eyes about us, while the third boat's crew remained on the beach." Gradually the natives who were mingling with them separated. After looking at the village, the Commodore and his men began to return. "As I got near the beach I said, 'Every man to the boats' ... I saw Harrison up a passage by the side of a hut and went up to him to see what he was about. He was bargaining for some arrows with a tall man ... Casting my eyes to the left I saw a man with a gleaming pair of black eyes fitting an arrow to a string and in an instant, just as I was thinking it must be a sham menace, and stared him in the face, thud came the arrow into my left side. I felt astounded. I shouted, 'To the boats!' pulled the arrow out, and threw it away, for which I am sorry, and leapt down the beach, hearing a flight of arrows pass. At my first sight of them, all were getting in and shoving off, and I leapt into the whaler; then jumped out, and helped to push her out into deep water, and while doing so another arrow hit my head a good sharp rap, leaving an inch and a half of bone sticking in my hat."
In this attack six in all were wounded, says the wife of the Commodore, who completed his journal, "the Commodore, his coxswain, and his cook, the coxswain of one of the cutters, and two young seamen".
Goodenough's story continues: "I ordered the armed men to fire, and instantly they fired the arrow flights ceased. Petty at once chewed and sucked my wound, and on my coxswain and cook saying they were hit, sucked their wounds too." The Commodore now decided that a showdown was necessary, so, after firing a blank volley, a team was sent ashore to burn the nine huts in the village. This was done, and the anchor was weighed The journal ends: "The arrows did not look to be poisoned, but if they were, and tetanus appeared, then the best climate would be wanted to give us all the best hope of recovery. So I turned and steamed to Mota, and thence under sail to where I am now, off to north end of a New Caledonia. Today is Tuesday, just five days; it seems but a day. In five days more we shall be able to say that all danger of poisoning is over. ... The weather is lovely, and favourable to the little wounds. My only trouble is a pain in the small of the back, I don't feel. ..."
The Commodore's wife added: "Here the writing was interrupted, and was not again resumed. The Commodore showed the first signs of illness a few hours after this letter was written." He died on 20th August 1875. Says the Australian Encyclopaedia: "He was buried in the cemetery associated with St Thomas's Church, North Sydney, between the bodies of two of his sailors (both aged 18) who had also died. It was near Santa Cruz that La Perouse and his French sailors lost their lives in 1788.
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We left Bully Hayes sailing merrily away from Apia with Ben Pease on board the Pioneer. A pair of scoundrels, but if half the yarns about Ben Pease are true he was a worse scoundrel than Bully Hayes. Physically there was not much likeness between them. One writer, in an article published in the Sydney Daily Mirror on 23rd June 1858, describes Pease as a slender dandy, a womanizer, fond of perfumes, who arrived on the China coast about the 1850s. Where he came from was a mystery, but his contemporaries agreed that he had served as an officer in Uncle Sam's Navy, and had been cashiered for taking part in mutiny. In the 1850s, it is said, Pease commanded a Chinese gunboat dedicated to hunting the pirates of Bias Bay, who preyed upon passing traffic. Legend avers that Pease was a champion double-crosser. After catching pirates, he made them share the loot with him, before letting them go to get another slice of the cake, and so on, and on ...
One story is that in 1855 Pease hijacked a Chinese dhow and tossed all the crew overboard, except the captain and the mate. He then tied them by their pigtails to the yardarm, hanging face to face, then he gave them knives, and ordered them to fight until one was dead. When the reluctant Chinese refused to go into action, Pease threatened to tie starving rats to their bellies and let the rats burrow into their intestines. Naturally, the Chinese preferred knives to rats, and they fought. The survivor, thrown overboard, drifted ashore, and was picked up by the police, living long enough to tell his story. Soon a Chinese gunboat savaged Pease, demanding reparations from him until he was left a penniless pauper in Shanghai. "One day," writes our anonymous scribe, "as Pease was begging in the streets, a passer-by caught his attention. The man was Captain Bully Hayes, notorious scourge and pirate of the Pacific, then on Chinese government business tracking smugglers."
The two companions in crime joined forces. Hayes gave Pease food and clothes, and took him to the South Seas for adventure. While in Honolulu, Ben Pease spotted a huge black schooner, the Water-lily. He bought her on forged orders and sailed to Fiji, blackbirding natives on the way and selling them to Fiji plantation owners. Since Pease and Hayes now each had his own vessel, "the pirates split forces". Another yarn about the partnership of Bully Hayes and Ben Pease was told by my friend Bart Adamson in Smith's Weekly of 1st January 1958. It is an amazing story, which I find hard to believe, but there is probably some truth in it. Bart wrote: "After Hayes and Pease resigned from the Chinese Navy, the two captains departed from Macao to the South Seas, where men were men and brown girls were beautiful." Sailing in the Water-lily, they set a course for the Bonin Islands, but before reaching them they came upon the sad spectacle of a Portuguese gunboat resting on a lonely coral reef like a wet hen on a nest-egg.
"This sight of a vessel in distress moved the two villains to tears - tears of laughter - because they had a beaut idea." A boat was lowered and they were rowed to the wreck. The tragedy was discussed, as Ben and Bully sympathized with the marooned mariners. "It was then agreed that the Water-lily should stand by and give assistance - for a fee of one thousand American dollars. They were also to give the Portuguese captain advice to get his vessel safely off the reef." After the money was paid over, Captain Hayes told the captain that it would be necessary to shift heavy guns and gear to the starboard side of his vessel. This was done, and the gunboat canted, displaying a hole in the hull. Next advice was to remove lighter material, such as small guns, stores, ammunition and other portable articles. The Water-lily was now warped alongside the gunboat, and everything movable was transferred over the hole in the hull - a nautical practice known as "feathering", the idea being that water pressure would hold the sail in place.
"By now," wrote Bart Adamson - a bit of a Bully Hayes himself, I think - in love with his own imagination, "stores to the value of 3000 dollars had been transferred to the Water-lily. All waited anxiously for high tide, which duly arrived, and lo! behold! the gunboat floated free of the coral, and the tarpaulin kept water from entering the vessel." The pumps were soon busy emptying water from the hold, and all was serene in the sun in the South Seas. Three loud cheers came from the Portuguese crew, followed by three hearty cheers from Bully and Ben . The two captains then ordered the sails of the Water-lily to be unfurled, and a brisk breeze filled the canvas. The Water-lily gathered speed while the Portuguese commanders watched her move towards the lagoon entrance. But, instead of sailing into the lagoon to return the stores, the brig continued past the gunboat, and headed to sea with her cargo of Portuguese guns and dollars. It sounds a good yarn, except that Bart Adamson fails to state when and where it happened, and the name of the Portuguese gunboat.