Arrival in the West Indies

Captain’s letter

Berbice, July 6 1762

Captain Jan Menkenveld on the ship The Unity

Honorable Sirs, Directors of the Commercie Compagnie,

Dear Sirs,

My last letter to your honors was dated the 2nd of May, according to the attached copy, on the coast of Africa. From here we left on the 8th of May with 319 heads of live slaves,

so that we spent six days longer there than I had thought. This is because my boat, while full of water, was stuck on the stakes of the jetty of Elmina CastleGhanad’Elmina. We were unable to procure water canoes due to an incident at the roadstead there: a negro jumped out of the water canoe into the water where he was snatched away by one or several sharks. Statements of this have been given by my officers and crew in addition as well as an oath declared, both in hands of the director-general, so that I could get the remainder of my water with the boat.

Since my departure from the coast of Africa nothing of importance happened with the exception of two more deaths: the head carpenter, Paulus Christiaan Kempe, born in Hamborg, died on May 10th 1762, and Jacobus Duijnkerke, born in Aardenburgh, died on May 26th 1762.

I was planning on sailing to Curacao with my slaves, but my water and my supply for the slaves have not allowed for this. We have therefore chosen the first harbor as our best choice, so that the crossing took 8 weeks and 3 days.

We would have arrived in the river of Suriname, but after I found out that there would be slave ships who had left the coast of Africa before and with us, also destined for Suriname (as they said), I thought that the slaves would be sold there for low prices.

Therefore, as soon as I arrived river Berbice, Guyanahere at the river I wrote secretary Sir Spoor at GuyanaEssequebo by express to request information from him regarding the demand and prices of slaves over there. Should slaves be priced higher there than here, I will leave with the remainder of slaves for Essequebo.

I will also add a copy of my previous letter, together with the transactional accounts of the coast of Africa and a declaration of the ammunition stored there. I have arrived here with 299 heads of live slaves; a total of 27 slaves have died.

I will inform your honors at the next possible opportunity of the further circumstances of my journey, as well as send you a transactional account, an auction list and the bills of exchange. A public auction will be held here within 8 to 10 days.

Other than that I nothing of importance to write except that I and my officers and sailors enjoy still a perfect health due to the Lord’s precious blessing, as I hope and wish for you and your honorable family, which will always be a pleasure to learn of.

With which it remains for me to greet your honorable and recommend you to God’s holy protection, so witness with all respect,

Honorable sirs,

Your willing servant,

Jan Menkenveld

P.S. Honorable sirs,

At my arrival in the river there was a ship which today left for the homeland, nothing further has changed.