Stages of the voyage

Instructions for the captain

The day previous to departure the captain was given three documents with instructions for the voyage by the directors of the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC). These documents were:

  1. The instructions
  2. The specific instructions
  3. The further specific instructions

Destination and human trafficking

The destinations are clearly described in the instructions (West Africa) and in the further private instructions (Guyana). This is also done for the trade in enslaved Africans. The enslaved persons were traded for cargo goods.

West Africa

“First you will attempt to call in at port Cape Monte (Robersport). There you will trade as many slaves as is feasible. From there up to Cape Palmas (Harper) you will go to all ports where it is possible to trade for slaves, trading back and forth along the coast and keeping this up for as long as possible. Provide yourself with a good load of rice to increase your food supply.”

“And when you cannot procure any more slaves on the Upper Coast, it will be necessary for you to move from Cape Palmas or from the Grain Coast until Cape Lahou (Grand Lahou) and from there until Cape Tres Puntes, trading for as many slaves as are available and calling at all ports. As soon as you have all your slaves, you will sail to the colony as soon as possible, as your further particular instructions indicate.”

The number of enslaved persons that was aimed for is not given anywhere, but the cargo list gives a clue. There were cargo goods listed for a shipment of approximately 300 enslaved persons.


“As soon as you have traded a sufficient number of  slaves along the coast of Africa, will sail with them immediately to the colony of the Berbice in West Indies. On your arrival there you will address yourself to the auction master Abraham Wijs to request his counsel and assistance for the sale of the slaves. For the sale of the slaves brought there, a public venue is probably best. And if you find that the entire human cargo can be sold at once for a reasonable price, you will sell it there as a whole.”

“However, if you notice that the prices decrease, you will save a suitable remainder of 80 to 100 slaves and sell them in the colony of Essequebo and Demerary. This will also be done during amongst a public auction and on condition of payment in sugar or proper bills of exchange. The sugar must be loaded onto the ship immediately.”

“If, contrary to expectations, the prices are too low, the directors leave it to you to sail to Curacao or St. Eustatius.”

Enslaved persons on board

The three documents provide some insight about the situation for enslaved persons on board of the ship.

“One should take care not to be caught off guard by the slaves. To that end, have your handgun ready in strategic positions. The captain and officers should at all times keep a good watch with all prudence so that there will be no chaos. In addition, take good care regarding the cleaning of the slave’s food kettle, and make sure that the slaves are well-nourished and taken care of.”

“It is our express wish that the assault and abuse of any other kind to the slaves by any of the officers or other ships’ folk will not be permitted.  If this does occur unexpectedly, it shall be recorded and the offender will be punished by the ship’s council after the deed, yes even with confiscation of the monthly salaries.”

Bonus per enslaved person sold

“It is forbidden to take in any cargo to trade or buy slaves for you own profit. On the other hand, you will be paid a bonus for every slave which will be sold in the colonies. With which all will have to be satisfied.”

  • To the captain: 80 shillings per enslaved person
  • To the first officer: 24 shillings per enslaved person
  • To the second officer: 24 shillings per enslaved person
  • To the third steersman: 10 shillings enslaved person
  • To the boatswain: 6 shillings per enslaved person

This bonus is also called ‘slave money’. “The slave money will only be paid if profit has been made from the voyage. In case of profit the above mentioned officers will receive a bonus of 12 percent of this profit.”

Other topics that are described in the instructions are: encounters with other ships. including those of the WIC (the Dutch West India Company); reports to the board; what to do in case of death of the captain; supervision on the use of ship’s materials; transport and packaging of gold.


Click on the following links for the transcriptions of:

  1. The instructions
  2. The specific instructions
  3. The further specific instructions