‘Liberated’ Slaves? by Joline Young

Prize slave women as depicted by Thomas Baines
Source: Prof R C-H Shell, From Diaspora to Diorama

While the abolition of the slave trade by Britain in 1808 was haled as a victory by abolitionists like Granville Scott and William Wilberforce,[i] for the people who were ‘liberated’ in this way, its rewards were bitter sweet. [ii] This paper explores how abolition was experienced at the Cape through examining the experiences of people ‘liberated’ off slave ships, who were referred to as ‘prize negroes’ by the colonists. What it will show is that under the guise of freedom, enslaved people who were liberated off slave ships were entered into extended periods of slavery, wherein which they were often treated with even less regard than ‘slaves’.

The abolition of slavery by Britain in 1808 was, on the face of things, a good and noble deed.

However, while on the surface abolition might have appeared as a victory for anti-slavery, beneath the surface very little had changed. Thus if any enslaved people came to know of it and understood it as equating ‘freedom’ for themselves, they would have been sorely disappointed. In reality, abolition did not translate into emancipation from slavery, but rather the cessation of slave trading by the British. Thus people who were already enslaved at the Cape continued to be so. [iii]

This being as it may, the abolition of the slave trade was formalised through the Slave Trade Act on 1 January 1808, when Britain declared the slave trade illegal ‘throughout the Empire’. [iv] Thus close on the heels of the English Slaver the Kitty’s Amelia completing its last slaving journey in 1807, Britain now did an about turn and started championing the cause of anti-slavery. [v]

With this purpose in mind, the dawning of abolition saw the establishment of anti-slavery squadrons at Simon’s Bay and Table Bay. These localities were strategically planned in order to ensnare the great volumes of French and Portuguese slave ships rounding the East African Coast on their way to the Americas. [vi]

To the colonialists at the Cape, abolition was considered as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the value of their existing ‘slaves’ increased greatly, on the other hand this increased value of their ‘property’ was coupled by concern of future lack, as the tap was being closed on further supply. [vii] However this tap did not shut completely and the ‘prize negro’ system of indenture ensured that slave labour continued unabated. To this end the ‘prize negro’ system of indenture had a double purpose, the first being to placate abolitionists by ‘liberating’ slaves from slave ships and the second to ensure that abolition did not disturb labour requirements. Thus the seemingly humanitarian acts of delivering enslaved people from slave boats offered little to the enslaved and much to the Royal Navy and colonialists at the Cape, who were the real beneficiaries of abolition as it was framed within the system of indenture. [viii]

For the ‘prize negroes’, these indentures ensured that they remained in a perpetual cycle of slavery for a further fourteen years. [ix] For some, who fell victim to the worst of the corruptive practises affecting ‘prize negroes’, it was to last much longer and possibly even their entire lifetimes. [x]

Strikingly a large proportion of ‘prize negroes’ landed at the Cape were children. Where and how they were separated from their parents is unknown, however, by the time of their landing at the Cape they would have already suffered multiple traumas. Removed from their families and natal homes and forced to undertake horrendous journeys on slave ships, the rigours of which caused the death of many of their contemporaries along the way, the levels of trauma that they endured must have been severe.[xi]

In his book, The Navy and the Slave Trade, Christopher Lloyd describes the conditions under which enslaved people were kept on these slave ships:

Reputable witnesses declared that no slave was allowed more than a space
measuring 5 ft 6 in by 16 inches in which to lie between decks often less than
feet apart; that they were often manacled on their sides so that more could be
packed tighter; that 10 % died of suffocation, apart from deaths due to a hundred
types of disease and infection; that their food consisted of yams and beans twice
a day, with one pint of stinking water; that they were imprisoned between decks
for 16 hours out of 24 and that the famous dancing “consisted of jumping in their
irons for exercise and that they were whipped when they refused to do it”. [xii]

Lord Charles Somerset described similar conditions on the Flor da Bahia, the Portuguese Slaver which arrived in Simon’s Town in 1818 and which, with the close of the Napoleonic war, he was not in a position to impound. In a letter to Earl Bathurst dated 13 May 1818, he stated his reasons for offering assistance to those on board:

Upon the arrival of the vessel in Simon’s Bay the crowded state of the Negroes
on board had caused so much mortality and disease was making such rapid
progress that the common dictates of humanity urged a speedy interference and
in consequence of the reports, copies of which are herewith transmitted, I directed
the sick to be landed, succoured and treated by the medical officer at Simon’s Town
during the stay of the vessel in that harbour. ….. The Negroes, having been
dying at the rate of four a day previous to my having afforded them relief. [xiii]

Thus the Flor da Bahia went on its way, taking along with it its human cargo, who would not be ‘indentured’ at the Cape. The mandate for the British anti-slavery squadron was to intercept slave ships which were to be impounded as ‘prize ships’ and forfeited to the crown, as was their human cargo of mostly Mozambican and Madagascan people, who became known as ‘prize negroes’.[xiv]

It was because of this genealogical backdrop that the former were also known as Mozbiekers at the Cape.[xv]

The idea was that the ‘prize negroes’ would be ‘apprenticed’ to a ‘master’ for a period of fourteen years, during which time they were supposed to be taught skills that would prepare them to be self sufficient on the expiry thereof. However, what the ‘prize negroes’ experienced was not apprenticeship, but an extension of slavery in which they were exploited as slaves, but valued even less. [xvi]

The arrival of ‘prize negroes’ at the Cape

The prize negroes arrived at the Cape in two waves, the first from 1808 and the second from 1839. [xvii] Within the first eight years following abolition, more than 2100 East African people were landed in the colony, at either Simon’s Bay or Table Bay, where their fate lay in the hands of the Collector of Customs, one Charles Blair. [xviii] The modus operandi was that once a human cargo of ‘prize negroes’ was landed, Blair was to be notified. He would then make the journey to Simon’s Town or Table Bay, to view and allocate the ‘prize negroes’ as he saw fit. The fittest were expected to be procured for the Navy and the Army and the rest were spread thinly throughout the colony, some of whom would remain with individuals in Simon’s Town. [xix] However, all of these placements were entirely at the whim of Blair who was given carte blanche over these individuals. This saw the inception of a trail of corruption in which people were bartered as a currency by Blair, who profited generously from these transactions. [xx] However, one such ‘prize negro’ was to be the catalyst for Blair’s corrupt activities being exposed to the authorities. His name was Jean Elle.

The story of Jean Elle:

The exceptional story of Jean Elle emerges from the court trial records in a case of alleged libel on Charles Blair, brought against L Cooke, W Edwards and J B Hoffman by His Majesty’s Fiscal in 1824. Jean Elle, formerly a ‘free citizen’ of the Island of Bourbon (now Reunion), was a Sailor Cook on the French packet, le Victor when it was captured by the British brig Race Horse in 1810, during the Napoleonic wars.

Thus it was that the course of his life became irrevocably altered. Delivered into the hands of the Collector of Customs, namely Charles Blair, Jean Elle was entered into servitude to a number of Blair’s creditors, the first being a Mr Tyrholm where he was placed for a number of years and the last being Samuel Murray. [xxi]

Murray hired Jean Elle out as a cook to a wealthy Cape Merchant, Launcelot Cooke, who in turn paid Murray a sum of 35 Rixdollars per month for Jean Elle’s service. At the death of Murray, which occurred after Jean Elle had been with Cooke for six years, Blair ordered the return of Jean Elle, whom he had now promised to a Mr Pegou, the son-in-law of his assistant, Wilberforce Bird. Jean Elle was reluctant to go and Cooke, reluctant to part with him. He was now six months short of completing a fourteen year period of enforced indenture, which he had always claimed had been wrongly forced upon him and which was later blamed on the language barrier, i.e. Jean Elle was French speaking. In addition, with the death of Murray, Cooke had been paying the 35 Rixdollars to Jean Elle himself. Cooke, who spoke of the “good opinion he entertained of the man, acquired during his long and faithful service”[xxii] offered to pay the costs of another cook for Pegou in place of Jean Elle. However, Blair refused and after a verbal altercation between the two, Cooke decided to take action against Blair. Thus with the assistance of Edward and Hoffman, Cooke instituted the drawing up of a petition on behalf of a number of people identified as ‘prize negroes’, citing Blair’s ill-treatment and underhanded dealings in relation to them. The petition, which was addressed to the Lords of the Treasury, was intercepted and Cook, Edward and Hoffman accused of instigating this. Blair sued them for libel.[xxiii] In retrospect, Blair might have re-considered his libel action, as the court case created a platform for Cooke to expose Blair’s corrupt activities.

Giving evidence in the libel court case Cooke stated:
If Mr Blair had been influenced by the benevolent spirit of the Abolition Act
(and Jean Elle had been a slave in reality), when he found him a man near thirty
years of age, so good a cook and so well able to earn the bread of honest industry,
he would have satisfied the law, by placing him in some family for a few months,
instead of 14 years; but this would not satisfy the necessities or the wishes of Mr Blair,
who acquired consequence and credit by disposing of so many Slaves of the most unfortunate order; and if your Lordships would afford your protection against the future oppressions of the Officers of Customs, several cases should appear before you of Mr Blair’s privity to such contracts that offered to Mr Pegou, at which he expresses such indignation; to contracts, even more corrupt, some wherein when persons have pressed him for payment of his debts, he has promised them greater advantages, which have ended in the donations of miserable Creatures, thus abandoned to those whom he dare not to assail, sacrifices to his necessities, victims of his oppressive partialities. [xxiv]

When the libel case against Cooke et al was finally dismissed, after lengthy hearings, Blair was investigated for corruption with regard to his illicit practices, which included the disappearance of a number of ‘prize negroes’, who disappeared after being indentured by Blair.[xxv] However, the investigation headed by J T Bigge and W M G Colebrooke was purely window-dressing as although they found Blair guilty of corruption in 1825, Blair suffered no punishment or dismissal for his actions. [xxvi] Nevertheless Blair was succeeded by William Field in 1835. [xxvii]

The doctor who was indentured at the Cape

Jean Elle was not the only skilled person who was indentured as a prize negro. Another, even more accomplished ‘apprentice’ was a Mozambican doctor known as Vincenti King, who was indentured to the hospital of the Slave Lodge. Vincenti King’s escape from the Lodge was reported in the Cape of Good Hope Gazette on 1 June 1827, where he was described as being a 40 year old ‘Mosambique Black’ wearing a grey cloth jacket and trowsers (sic) with a blue cloth cap.  At the time he was thought to be living as a free man ‘in the neighbourhood of Wynberg and Witteboom’.[xxviii] The posting placed by Richard Townroe, the Director of the Government at the Slave Lodge, requested anyone knowing of his whereabouts to contact the Prison at Rondebosch or Cape Town, or the Field Cornets in the Country districts. Furthermore it warned of prosecution against anyone offering him shelter. [xxix] The fate of Vincenti King is unknown, but this posting gives another glimpse into how the lives of ordinary people were devastated through the slave trade and later, the ‘prize negro’ system of indenture.

The Slave-trade

One of the earliest beneficiaries of the ‘prize negro’ system of indenture was none other than Alexander Tennant, a former slave-trader. With the permission of Earl Caledon, Tennant availed himself to no less than ninety nine such people, who arrived in the colony on 18 December 1807, on the Portuguese Ship, Constantia. [xxx] It seems that Tennant was less than kind to these people, many of whom he kept longer than their allotted period of indenture, profiting as he was from their labour. For the ‘prize negroes’, there was little recourse. In fact when four of Tennant’s ‘apprentices’ petitioned against Tennant’s ill-treatment and their illegal detention as ‘slaves’, the Fiscal, in rejecting their plea, spoke of their entertaining ‘ideas of such uncurbed liberty and freedom as no Hottentot or Free person of colour ever enjoyed in this Colony.[xxxi]

In 1814, at the age of 42, Tennant died and on his death Tennant’s wife made a request to the Fiscal to re-indenture Tennant’s ninety nine ‘prize negroes’ from the Constantia, for a further seven years. When the Fiscal requested that the said ‘negroes’ be brought before him, it became apparent that a number of these people had been resold into slavery. An investigation into tracing the missing ‘prize negroes’ proved futile and the secrets of how Tennant disposed of these people for his own monetary gain, went with him to the grave. [xxxii]

The social lives and experiences of ‘prize negroes’ at the Cape

For the people brought to the Cape as ‘prize negroes’, they were socially alienated not only from the colonialists, but also from the enslaved community that existed at the Cape.

Rugarli refers to this alienation as follows:

Creolization changed slaves’ perception (sic) of themselves and improved their existences, transforming them into a valuable part of the Colony’s population compared to the alien ‘Prize Negroes’.[xxxiii]

Although the fourteen year ‘apprenticeship’ period was justified by the authorities as being necessary in order to train these ‘apprentices’ to enable them to be self supporting at the end of this period, no such training was given.[xxxiv]

Cast in the minds of the colonists as ignorant vessels for whom their sole purpose was hard labour, the ‘prize negroes’ found themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, ranked lower than the creolized Cape-born enslaved people, many of whom were skilled artisans. [xxxv] Furthermore, the fact that enslaved people had been paid for, whereas ‘prize negroes’ were acquired at no monetary cost, reinforced this view. To this end they were assigned the worst and most trying forms of labour and, within the Navy and the Army were required to perform ‘those duties of fatigues and labour which would be injurious to a European constitution’.[xxxvi] Paradoxically, despite their ‘low status’, the ‘prize negroes’ were the sources of wealth for many prominent families in the Cape, who hired their ‘apprentices’ out, the hiring fees of which by the 1820’s averaged at a rate of one Rixdollar per day.[xxxvii] This no doubt was one of the motivating factors for leading Cape Town residents who guaranteed the £3000 passage money that ensured the arrival of 1360 ‘prize negroes’ most of whom were children from St Helena between March and June 1842. [xxxviii]

For all those people and children who were brought to the Cape as ‘prize negroes’, their daily experiences were at the mercy of the people to whom they were assigned. Pertinently their logistical location at the Cape either lessened or heightened their vulnerability. [xxxix]

For those who found themselves in a rural setting where opportunities to forge social contacts were few, this sense of isolation would have been magnified. Often within these isolated areas the levels of abuse was much greater. Such was the experience of four ‘prize negroes’ who were indentured to a farmer in Malmesbury.

The story of Toon, Jack, January and ‘Lice’ emerges through court records in the case against a farmer named Hendrik Nicolaas Kotze of Verloen Valley District of Malmesbury and is revealing not only of the excesses to which some farmers ill-treated those who laboured for them as ‘prize negroes’, but also of how much more vulnerable ‘prize negroes’ were in a rural setting.

The witnesses at the court hearing against Kotze were three masons named Hendrik Guff, Matthys Greeff and Thomas Davy, who worked at his farm for a period of four months, from January to April 1841.

During the court proceedings Hendrik Nicolaas Kotze was exposed as an extremely cruel man

who showed no care for the welfare of these men who were known as ‘prize negroes’, keeping them in a perpetual state of hunger and neglect. In a court statement Guff commented on their sparse clothing as follows: ‘I often heard the negroes complain of being very cold’.

Thomas Davey remarked on their lack of food, saying: ‘I often saw the negroes making signs by pointing to their stomachs as if they were hungry’. Added to this already cruel treatment was the extremely harsh physical abuse that Kotze rendered on Toon, Jack, January and ‘Lice’, who the masons said sjambokked these men almost every day.

In his evidence on the flogging Davey commented:

The first negro I saw Defendant flog was the one called January. Defendant struck him three or four blows with a sjambok over his shoulders. The second one flogged was Lice, he was very severely flogged, but I cannot say how many lashes he got, or with what instrument he was flogged. The negro Toon was next flogged with a sjambok. I cannot say how many stripes he got, I only heard him cry out. [xl]

Matthys Greeff spoke of Kotze’s cruelty to these men as follows:

The first negro I saw flogged was the one called Jack. Defendant gave him one cut with a long whip over the head for not rolling stones quick enough. The next I saw flogged was the small negro called Toon. He Toon was flogged almost every day for not working quick enough in the house. Lice was flogged next by Defendant with a horsewhip over the shoulders, back and buttocks. I believe defendant gave Lice about fifty stripes. [xli] The negro January was next flogged by Defendant with a quince kirrie on his thighs. [xlii]

Concurring with Thomas Davey’s statements on the state of perpetual hunger that these men were kept in, Matthys Greeff commented:

I often heard the negroes complain about food. I heard them say in Dutch, we are hungry, we want food.

Because of these mens’ isolation, their plight at the hands of Kotze might have never reached the attention of the authorities were it not for the intervention of the masons. [xliii]

In any event, for Toon, Jack, January and ‘Lice’, taking action against Kotze on their own would have been fraught with difficulties. In order to have been able to protect their rights, they would have needed to know what those rights were, which was difficult as they were so far removed from any social networks where such information may have been provided. Pertinently their rural location magnified not only their isolation, but also their vulnerability. Therefore without the strength of the evidence of the masons Kotze might not have been found guilty of assault.

The sentencing of Kotze to one month in prison, though wholly inadequate, was appealed by himself on the grounds that his wife was in confinement. However, the sentence was upheld as the judge found the charge to be ‘a serious one which called for a severe punishment’. [xliv] Whether Toon, Jack and ‘Lice’ continued as indentured labourers to Kotze after his one month sentence had been served or whether they were re-assigned elsewhere is unknown. However their story offers an insight into the cruelty, both physical and psychological, that was experienced by a vulnerable group of foreigners who were indentured at the Cape as ‘prize negroes’.

The clandestine slave trade that existed after abolition

The case of Present bears witness to the clandestine slave trading that continued after abolition. Present van Mozambique was one of a number of people who were smuggled into the Cape and illegally sold as a slave in 1808.  It was only some eighteen years later, on a rare trip to the town where he recognised two men who had travelled on the slave ship with him eighteen years before. Through conversing with them he became aware of his ‘free’ status. Present’s evidence in court offers a glimpse into these underhand activities:

Question: ‘When you heard that the captain was imprisoned on that account did you make any inquiry why you were detained as a slave?’

Answer: ‘I did not hear it till I returned to Town and a short time after I was called before the Fiscal in the case of another Boy named Jose who had come in the same ship and who had claimed his Freedom. I then mentioned all I knew of the case notwithstanding my Master’s positive orders that I should deny all Knowledge of the Boy and being threatened with a good flogging if I disobey’. [xlv]

Present’s case was sent to the Court of Justice by the Guardian of Slaves and he was finally ‘liberated’ from slavery in 1826. The strength of his case was that others who had travelled with him on the slave ship eighteen years before, namely Fortuin, Africa, Masenti, Pedro and July, had come to give evidence on his behalf. What was striking about this case is the clarity with which each of the witnesses remembered details which concurred with the others, even though they had not seen each other in eighteen years. This clarity is revealing of how the trauma of this journey was etched into their memories. [xlvi]

Present was thus freed some eighteen years after he was smuggled into the colony as a slave.

However, there were many more ‘prize negroes’ who never became aware of the few rights that were accorded them and through this ignorance, were exploited by slave owners well beyond the levels that were legally allowed, thus keeping them in a state of permanent bondage that long outlasted slavery. [xlvii]

Religion

The way the ‘prize negroes’ practised religion is indicative of how they held on to a sense of agency within an environment where most of their choice and freedom was denied them.

The majority of the ‘first wave’ of or earlier arrivals of ‘prize negroes’ who arrived in Cape Town found solace and acceptance in the Muslim community, many of whom were Free Blacks, and this is where they aligned themselves, adopting Islam as their religion.[xlviii] The levels of conversion were so high that in 1823, Imam Muding suggested that at least half of the Muslims in the Cape Colony were ‘prize negroes’.[xlix] The colonial government, however, was not in favour of this state of affairs, later insisting on ‘masters’ ensuring Christian training for their ‘apprentices’, this requirement being a prerequisite for indentures. [l]

Thus the religious affiliation of ‘prize negroes’ was more or less reversed with the second wave of ‘prize negroes’ who arrived from 1839, but as early as1824 there was a trickle of ‘prize negroes’ attending church regularly. [li] Another interesting upshot of this was that this effectively excluded Jewish people from benefiting from the ‘prize negro’ system of indenture. [lii]

The smallpox epidemic

Dawn in December 1839 saw the first arrivals of the ‘second wave’ of ‘prize negroes’ when the Modeste anchored in Simon’s Town with fifty children, most of whom were under ten years of age and who had been ‘liberated’ off the Portuguese slaver, the Escorpoa. [liii] For many of the local residents “their distribution excited intense interest”. [liv] However, a journalist for the South African Commercial Advertiser, who was touched by their plight, reported on them thus:

Set down upon our shores naked and, no interpreter having yet been found,
speechless. A more helpless set of creatures, or more deserving of our
sympathies, cannot be imagined. A large proportion of them are children,
under ten years of age! We do not know where they came from …. [lv]

However, the consequences of their arrival proved deadly for many in the colony, as by the time it was discovered that some of these children were infected with Smallpox, a total of 973 people had already died through the spread of this disease, by which time the children were quarantined and further spread of the disease contained. [lvi] On distribution of the remainder, some of the survivors were set to work “cleaning the streams that flowed through Cape Town”. [lvii] From this time on all ‘prize negroes’ arriving in the colony were placed into the quarantine system. [lviii]

However, when ‘prize negro’ children were placed in the infant school in Wynberg for treatment in 1840, this caused much consternation among the residents who petitioned the governor for their removal. [lix]

Freedom for the prize negroes

After completing the fourteen year mandatory ‘apprenticeship’, ‘prize negroes were to be set free. However, this freedom was a tenuous and elusive thing. [lx] Significantly, they were to provide for themselves a ‘Master’ and to notify the Local Authorities of “such engagement”[lxi] within a month of their emancipation, it being made clear to them “the Laws of the Colony”, in respect of vagrancy. [lxii] Overwhelmingly this freedom took place within the confines of the Masters and Servants Ordinance of 1841.[lxiii]

Significantly too, the freedom of a parent did not mean the freedom of their offspring, as all children of ‘prize negroes’ were indentured for a similar period of fourteen years, starting at age five. The fragmentation of families and the trauma of these childhood indentures is evident in the words of Samboo, a ‘prize negro’ indentured to Blair himself. When interviewed by J T Bigge, one of the commissioners of enquiry sent to the Cape in 1823, he first went to great pains to say that he “had no complaints”, before expressing his sadness, saying “my children are all apprenticed out and I wish the one which is with Mr Moore, a baker at Wynberg, should be returned to his mother; it is only six years old”.[lxiv] This seemingly simple request may have taken great courage for Samboo to make, given the context of the time in which it was made and the fact that Blair might have taken umbrage at this statement. Whether there were ramifications for Samboo we will never know, but as it was Blair himself who sanctioned punishments of ‘prize negroes’, one shudders at the thought that there might have been. At the time, the most common punishment for ‘prize negroes’ was “thirty nine lashes with a rattan on the bare posterior”. [lxv]

Still others were too old by the time of their release to benefit from the fruits of their labour. Such was the case of a ‘prize negro’ named Louis, formerly an Apprentice of a Mr de Kock, who fell foul of the law for stealing and was sentenced to Robben Island for eleven years. Louis, then aged 65, pleaded for a ‘mitigation of his sentence so that he may have some hopes of receiving his liberty before he is too old to labour’. [lxvi]

For a ‘prize negro’ named Daniel, the expiry of his apprenticeship came at a time when he was rendered blind and thus unemployable. How much his incapacity influenced P A Feder-Cerff, with whom he had served his full period of indenture, in accusing him of having broken the lock of his back door in ‘a fit of derangement’ we will never know. What we do know is that the said Feder-Cerff had him removed by the police and lodged in the prison for safety, thereafter requesting that he be admitted to a Pauper Establishment. Although Col. Laing, the Surgeon of Police could find no evidence of derangement in Daniel, he did concede that his blindness rendered him incapable of earning a living and thus recommended his admission to the Pauper Hospital. [lxvii]

Conversely, two ‘Liberated Apprentices’ by the names of Toonje and January tried to secure the best possible outcome for themselves by requesting a piece of ‘Government Waste Ground’ in the Paarl district. This they did by petitioning Sir George J Napier, the Governor of the Colony, on

15 September 1840. That they were both illiterate is evidenced by the fact that the Memorial was signed with an X. [lxviii] Unfortunately, there was nothing in the records to indicate whether this request was granted or not.

Conclusion:

The abolition of the slave trade by Britain in 1808 resulted in some five thousand people of mostly Mozambican and Madagascan origin being brought to the Cape as indentured labour between 1808 and 1856.[lxix] For all of them, arriving as strangers on these shores, their sense of displacement must have been acute. Significantly they were socially alienated not only from the colonizers, but also from the enslaved people who had been creolised at the Cape, in that they were culturally different to both. In addition, they were relegated to the lowest rung of the social ladder that existed at the Cape. The story of the ‘prize negroes’ at the Cape is one of trauma, hardship and extreme physical and psychological cruelty on an extremely vulnerable group of people. However, it is also one of resilience and is illustrative of how people held on to survival in whatever form it was possible for themselves, most notably through religious conversion, resulting in them ultimately becoming absorbed into what is now known as the Coloured Community of Cape Town. However, the past lives and history of the ‘prize negroes’ before they reached these shores is still cloaked in a dark blanket of mystery and anonymity, which overshadows the history people of mixed ancestry at the Cape.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Patrick Harries, Culture and Classification: A history of the Mozbieker Community at the Cape (Social Dynamics 26:2 (2000).

Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade, (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 1968).

Michael Charles Reidy, The Admission of slave and ‘Prize Slaves’ into the Cape colony, 1797 – 1818, (Unpublished Masters Thesis, UCT: 1997).

Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008.

Christopher Saunders, Between Slavery and Freedom, (Kronos Vol. 9, 1984).

Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th century, (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983).

Christopher Saunders, Liberated Africans in Cape Colony in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, (Africa Library, 1983).

Christopher Saunders, ‘Free, Yet Slaves’, in Nigel Worden & Clifton Crais  (Eds.), Breaking the Chains, Slavery and its Legacy in the Nineteenth-Century Cape Colony, (Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University Press, 1994).

Robert Shell, Children of Bondage: A social history of the slave society at the Cape of Good Hope 1652 - 1838 (USA: Wesleyan University Press, 1994).

Robert Carl-Heinz Shell, Islam in South Africa, 1653 – 2001 (Paper presented to the Seminar on Slavery and Political Exile, Slave Lodge, Cape Town: 2005).

George McCall Theal, Records of the Cape Colony from May 1818 to January 1820 (London: William Clowes & sons, 1903), Vol. XII.

Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivien Bickford-Smith, Cape Town, The Making of a City, (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 1998).

Archival records:

Cape Town Gazette (CG), 26 April, 1823.

WCARS, C/O 4009, The case against Hendrik Nicolaas Kotze of Verloen Valley District of Malmesbury, 12 to 16 July, 1841.

WCARS, CO414/6, Correspondence to Lord Charles Somerset from P Brink et al, 27 August 1818.

WCARS, C.O. 220/6, The Several Bays, 1824.

WCARS, CO/4007, Memorial to Sir George Napier, Governor and Commander in chief, from residents of Wynberg (signed by twenty Wynberg residents), 9 January, 1840.

WCARS, CO/4009, Vol 2, No. 1 – 162, To His Excellency Major General Sir George Napier K C B, Governor of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, The Memorial of Louis formerly an Apprentice of Mr de Kock now a convict on Robben Island, 1841.

WCARS, CO/4007, Letter from P A Feder-Cerff to the Secretary to Government, Cape Town, 14th October, 1840.

WCARS, CO/4007, Petition to Sir George J Napier, the Governor of the Colony, 1840.

End Notes

[i] Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade, (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 1968), p.3

[ii] Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivien Bickford-Smith, Cape Town: The Making of a City, (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 1998), pp.108

[iii] Christopher Saunders, Between Slavery and Freedom, (Kronos Vol. 9, 1984), pp. 36

[iv] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 161

[v] Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade, (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 1968), p.3

[vi] Patrick Harries, Culture and Classification: A history of the Mozbieker Community at the Cape (Social Dynamics 26:2 (2000), pp. 31/32

[vii] Christopher Saunders, Between Slavery and Freedom, (Kronos Vol. 9, 1984), pp.37

[viii] Christopher Saunders, ‘Free, Yet Slaves’, in Breaking the Chains, Slavery and its Legacy in the Nineteenth-Century Cape Colony, (eds.) Nigel Worden & Clifton Crais (Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University Press, 1994), pp. 102

[ix] Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivien Bickford-Smith, Cape Town, The Making of a City, (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 1998), pp. 108

[x] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 169 (Many individuals were kept in a state of total ignorance by slave owners to manipulate and exploit them. an unknown number probably never had the chance to liberate themselves).

[xi] Christopher Saunders in Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, (Centre for African Studies, UCT: 1983), pp. 13

[xii] Christopher Lloyd, The Navy and the Slave Trade, (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 1968), pp. 48

[xiii] George McCall Theal, Records of the Cape Colony from May 1818 to January 1820, Vol. XII, pp.3-4

[xiv] Christopher Saunders, Between Slavery and Freedom: The Importation of Prize Negroes to the Cape in the Aftermath of Emancipation, (Kronos Vol. 9, University of the Western Cape, 1984), pp. 36

[xv] Patrick Harries, Culture and Classification: A history of the Mozbieker Community at the Cape (Social Dynamics 26:2 (2000), pp. 31-32

[xvi] Nigel Worden, Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivien Bickford-Smith, Cape Town, The Making of a City, (Cape Town: David Philip Publishers, 1998), pp. 108

[xvii] Patrick Harries, Culture and Classification: A history of the Mozbeker Community at the Cape, (Social Dynamics 26:2 (2000), p.32.

[xviii] Ibid, p.2

[xix]Christopher Saunders in Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, (Centre for African Studies, UCT: 1983), p.5

[xx] George McCall Theal, Records of the Cape Colony, Vol, XV11, (London: William Clowes & sons, 1903), p. 178 (Memorial to the Lords of the Treasury, accusing Mr C Blair, Collector of His Majesty’s Customs, of having committed diversmal-practices in the distribution of Prize Negroes and of having, in many instances, made donations of these people to satisfy the claims of several of his creditors).

[xxi] George McCall Theal, Records of the Cape Colony, Vol, XV11, (London: William Clowes & sons, 1903), pp. 189

[xxii] Ibid, pp. 189

[xxiii] Ibid, p. 24

[xxiv] George McCall Theal, Records of the Cape Colony, Vol, XV11, (London: William Clowes & sons, 1903), pp. 191 and 192

[xxv] Cape Archives CO414/6 12285, 27 August 1818, Correspondence to Lord Charles Somerset from P Brink et al, pp.501

[xxvi] Michael Charles Reidy, The Admission of slave and ‘Prize Slaves’ into the Cape colony, 1797 – 1818, (Unpublished Masters Thesis, UCT: 1997), pp.82

[xxvii] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th century, (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983), pp. 15

[xxviii] Robert Shell, Children of Bondage (USA: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), pp. 147-148

[xxix] Ibid, pp. 148

[xxx] George McCall Theal, Records of the Cape Colony, Vol, XV11, (London: William Clowes & sons, 1903), pp. 157 – 169

[xxxi] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th century, (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983, pp.7

[xxxii] Theal, Records of the Colony, Vol. XII (William Clowes and Sons: 1902), Cape Archives 968.7 THE, pp. 75

[xxxiii] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 164

[xxxiv] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th century, (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983, pp.2

[xxxv] Michael Charles Reidy, The Admission of slave and ‘Prize Slaves’ into the Cape colony, 1797 – 1818, (Unpublished Masters Thesis, UCT: 1997), p.82 and p. 83

[xxxvi] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th century’ (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983), pp. 5

[xxxvii] Ibid, pp.6

[xxxviii] Ibid, pp. 12

[xxxix] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 169

[xl] Cape Archives C/O 4009 p.123 (1841) (The case against Hendrik Nicolaas Kotze of Verloen Valley District of Malmesbury) Evidence by Thomas Davey in the trial against Kotze

[xli] What would have been significant to the judge presiding this case, in terms of Greeff’s testimony is that Kotze grossly exceeded the stipulated legal limit of lashes, which Lord Charles Somerset had reduced to 25 as part of his amelioration efforts in 1823.  Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 162

[xlii] Cape Archives C/O 4009 p.123 (1841) (The case against Hendrik Nicolaas Kotze of Verloen Valley District of Malmesbury)

[xliii] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 170

[xliv] Cape Archives C/O 4009 p.123 (1841) (The case against Hendrik Nicolaas Kotze of Verloen Valley District of Malmesbury)

[xlv] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp, 166

[xlvi] Anna Maria Rugarli, Eyes on the Prize: The story of the prize Slave Present, Quarterly Bulletin of The National Library of South Africa, 62 (4), 2008, pp. 167

[xlvii] Ibid, pp. 163 and pp. 169

[xlviii] Robert Carl-Heinz Shell, Islam in South Africa, 1653 – 2001 (Paper presented to the Seminar on Slavery and Political Exile, Slave Lodge, Cape Town: 2005), pp.10 (By The early nineteenth century Muslim tailors from Cape Town – specialising in naval uniforms) and even a Muslim butcher had established themselves in the small but growing naval base. It was to this transhumant haberdashery community spawned by the British Navy that the prize negroes turned for religious inspiration).

[xlix] (Evidence of Two Mahometan priests” in Papers Relative to the Condition and Treatment of the Native Inhabitants of southern Africa within the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope .. Part 1 (18 March 1835), 207) cited by Robert Carl-Heinz Shell, Islam in South Africa, 1653 – 2001 (Paper presented to the Seminar on Slavery and Political Exile, Slave Lodge, Cape Town: 2005), pp.9

[l] Patrick Harries, Culture and Classification: A history of the Mozbeker Community at the Cape, (Social Dynamics: 26:2 (2000), p.32.

[li] H Maurice Scott Lieut Colonel, Govt Resident to Lt Col Bird: Reply to circular letter requiring him “to answer 11 questions on the existing state and deficiency of the establishments for religious instruction and for Education in the Residency”.  (The Cape Archives - C.O. 220/6 – 1824 “The Several Bays)

[lii] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th Century’ (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983), pp. 8

[liii] Ibid, p.11

[liv] Christopher Saunders, Liberated Africans in Cape Colony in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, (Africa Library, 1983), pp. 231

[lv] Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’, pp.11

[lvi] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th Century’ (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983), p. 11

[lvii] Christopher Saunders, Liberated Africans in Cape Colony in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, (Africa Library, 1983), pp. 231

[lviii] Ibid, p. 231

[lix] Memorial to Sir George Napier, Governor and Commander in chief, from residents of Wynberg (signed by twenty Wynberg residents): Cape Archives CO/4007 (9 January, 1840), p. 128

[lx] Christopher Saunders, ‘Free, Yet Slaves’, in Breaking the Chains, Slavery and its Legacy in the Nineteenth-Century Cape Colony, (eds.) Nigel Worden & Clifton Crais (Johannesburg, Witwatersrand University Press, 1994), pp. 115

[lxi] Cape Town Gazette (CG) 26 April 1823, Cape Archives, CCP 08/1/18

[lxii] Ibid

[lxiii] Christopher Saunders, ‘Liberated Africans’ and labour at the Cape of Good Hope in the First half of the 19th Century’ (Centre for African Studies, UCT, 30.03.1983), pp. 17

[lxiv] Ibid, The case of Samboo, pp.23-24

[lxv] Ibid, pp. 23

[lxvi] Cape Archives CO/4009, Vol 2, No. 1 – 162, p.677 (To His Excellency Major General Sir George Napier K C B, Governor of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, The Memorial of Louis formerly an Apprentice of Mr de Kock now a convict on Robben Island – 1841)

[lxvii] Letter from P A Feder-Cerff to the Secretary to Government, Cape Town, 14th October, 1840 - Cape Archives CO/4007 (1840), pp. 136

[lxviii] Petition to Sir George J Napier, the Governor of the Colony, Cape Archives CO/4007, (1840), pp.77

[lxix] Robert Shell, Children of Bondage (USA: Wesleyan University Press, 1994), pp. 148

Last updated : 09-Nov-2016

This article was produced for South African History Online on 07-Jun-2016