June 27, 2016 – Bishop Ajayi Crowther Letter From 1837 Page 5
Our owner was bound with his sailors; except the cook, who was preparing our breakfast. Hunger rendered us bold; and not being threatened at first attempts to get some fruits from the stern, we in a short time took the liberty of ranging about the vessel, in search of plunder of every kind. Now we began to entertain a good opinion of our conquerors. Very soon after breakfast, we were divided into several of the vessels around us. This was now cause of new fears, not knowing whether our missery would end. Being now, as it were, one family, we began to take leave of those who were first transshipped, not knowing what would become of them and ourselves.
About this time, six of us, friends in affliction, among whom was my brother Joseph Bartholomew, kept very close together, that we might be carried away at the same time. It was not long before we six were conveyed into the Mymidon, in which we discovered not any trace of those who were transshipped before us. We soon came to a conclusion of what had become of them, when we saw parts of a hog hanging, the skin of which was white – a thing we never saw before; for a hog was always roasted on fire, to clear it of the hair, in my country; and a number of cannon shots were arranged along the deck. But we were soon undeceived, by a close examination of the flesh with cloven foot, which resembled that of a hog; and, by a cautious approach to the shot, that they were iron.
In a few days we were quite at home in the man-of-war; being only six in number, we were selected by the sailors, for their boys; and were soon furnished with clothes. Our Portuguese owner and his son were brought over into the same vessel, bound in fetters; and thinking that I should no more get into his hand, I had the boldness to strike him on the head, while he was shaving by his son – an act, however, very wicked and unkind in its nature. His vessel was towed along by the man-of-war, with the remainder of the slaves therein. But after a few weeks, the slaves being transshipped from her, and being stripped of her rigging, the schooner was left alone on the ocean – “Destroyed at sea by captors being found unseaworthy, in consequence of being a dull sailer”.
One of the brigs, which contained a part of the slaves, was wrecked on a sand-bank: happily, another vessel was near, and all the lives were saved. It was not long before another brig sunk, during a tempest, with all the slaves and sailors, with the exception of about five of the latter, who were found in a boat after four or five days, reduced almost to skeletons, and were so feeble, that they could not stand on their feet. One hundered and two of our number were lost on this occasion.
After nearly two months and a half cruising on the coast, we were landed in Sierra Leone, on the 17th of June 1822. The same day we were sent to Bathurst, formerly Leopold, under the care of Mr (Thomas) Davey. Here we had the pleasure of meeting many of our country people, but none were known before. They assured us of our liberty and freedom; and we very soon believed them. But a few days after our arrival at Bathurst, we had the mortification of being sent to Freetown, to testify against our Portuguese owner. It being hinted to us that we should be delivered up to him again, notwithstanding all the persuation of Mr. Davey that we should return, we entirely refused to go ourselves unless we were carried. I could not but think of my ill-conduct to our owner in the man-of-war But as time was passing away, and our consent could not be got, we were compelled to go by being whipped; and it was not a smalle joy to us to return to Bathurst again, in the evening, to our friends.
From the period I have been under the care of the Church Missionary Society, and in about six months after my arrival at Sierra Leone, I was able to read the New Testament with some degree of freedom; and was made a monitor, for which I was rewarded with seven pence-half penny per month. The Lord was pleased to open my heart to harken to those things which were spoken by His servants, and being convinced that I was a sinner, and desired to obtain pardon through Jesus Christ, I was baptised on the 11th of December 1825, by Rev. J. Raban. I had the short privilege of visiting your happy and favoured land in the year 1826. It was my desire to remain for a good while, to be qualified as a Teacher to my fellow-creatures, but Providence odered it so, that, at my return, I had the wished-for instruction under the tuition of Rev. C.L.F Haensel who landed in Sierra Leone in 1827,through whose instrumentality I have been qualified so far, as to be able to render some help in the service of the Church Missionary Society, to my fellow-creatures. May I ever have a fresh desire to be engaged in the service of Christ, for it is perfect freedom!
Thus much I think necessary to acquaint you to the kindness of Providence concerning me. Thus the day of my captivity was to me a blessed day, when considered in this respect; though certainly it must be unhappy also, in my being deprived on it of my father, mother, sister and all other relations. I must also remark, that I could not as yet find a dozen Osogun people among the inhabitants of Sierra Leone.
I was married to a Christian woman on the 21st of September 1829. She was captured by His Majesty’s ship Bann, Captain Charles Phillips, on the 31st October 1822. Since, the Lord had blessed us with three children – a son, and two daughters.
That the time may come when the Heathen shall be fully given to Christ for His inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for His possession, is the earnest prayer of your humble, thankful, and obedient servant.
By Samuel Crowther
[Letter Source: A Patriot to The Core. Bishop Ajayi Crowther by Professor J. F. Ade-Ajayi]