Revolt on RevShip Thomas


The negligence of the armourer of the Liverpool ship Thomas cost the lives of her captain—Peter M’Qiuie—and most of her crew.  It was the women slaves who, going unchained about the decks discovered the open arms chest.  The crew were below eating their breakfast.  Stealthily two slim girls slipped into the open hatchway and passed cutlasses, muskets and pistols through the bulkheads to their men folk.

Two hundred armed and murderous blacks, running up the fore scuttles, the seamen cut off, fighting desperately with cutlasses, with bare fists. The captain killed the sailors overpowered and hacked to pieces, the slaves in possession.  In the distance twelve seamen rowing away desperately in the stern boat.  The terrorized remnant steering the ship back to Africa flanked by black guards.  Four more seamen and the long boat missing.  Day after day the boatswain and the remaining seamen sailed backs toward Africa, watching for the sail of approaching Guinea men.  On the forty-second day they sighted an American brig, and at their desperate signals she hove to and came alongside the blood-stained, reeking Thomas.  But the negroes, confident with success, seized muskets and cutlasses and leapt aboard her.  The crew ran for boats, jumped for their lives and left the negroes in possession of the ship.  The slaves broke open the hold.  The brig was carrying rum; the negroes broached the big bellied puncheons.  Never had they imagined so much rum.  They crowded into the brig and drank, and the boatswain and four seamen watched.  They were immeasurably outnumbered but they were desperate men.  In a few hours most of the negroes had drunk themselves insensible—most of them, but not enough; for the boatswain, fighting with M’Quie’s cutlass, was killed before the four seamen retook the brig.  They sailed her to Long Island, Providence, and the Thomas was subsequently recaptured by an English frigate—the Thames.  Of the twelve men who escaped in the stern boat reached the Bahamas after six nights and days without water.

Source:  Averil Mackenzie-Grieve, The Last Years of the ENGLISH SLAVE TRADE Liverpool 1750-1807.Putnam & Co. LTD, 42 Great Russell Street, W. C. I London.