It should be noted that Denise did not taste them all at the same meal.
It should be noted that Denise did not taste them all at the same meal.
ANDREA K. STEIN
Imagine a small crew of men rowing up a mosquito-infested jungle estuary in the darkness of night, silently gliding through lands dominated by warring tribal chiefs. Their mission? Stop trafficking in human slavery. Does this sound like the plot for a movie based on a special forces or Navy SEALS op?
Actually, the year is 1820, and the men are ordinary Royal Navy sailors and marines. They don’t have the luxury of night-vision goggles, high-tech weaponry, or medical access to a cure for the dreaded jungle fevers. They’re the men of the African, or Preventative, Squadron, as they were more commonly known in the 19th century. The place is the Rio Pongas estuary on West Africa.
Between 1807 and 1860, the West Africa Squadron seized approximately 1,600 ships involved in the slave trade and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard those vessels.
Those numbers are staggering, considering what the squadron had to work with, but perhaps it makes more sense to look at this accomplishment in the context of the life of one of those slaves.
Samuel Ajayi Crowther was kidnapped at 12 or 13 into slavery in 1821 by a neighboring tribe and sold to Portuguese slavers who placed him on a slave vessel for transport. The African Squadron’s “HMS Myrmidon,” under the command of Sir Henry Leeke, detained Adjai’s ship before it could leave port.
Ajayi and the others were rescued and taken to Freetown, a settlement for liberated Africans in Sierra Leone. Educated in a missionary school in Freetown for the next few years, he was baptized on December 11, 1825, and took the name Samuel Crowther.
Crowther excelled in languages, including English, Greek, Latin, and Temne. In 1826 he attended Islington Parish School in England, returning a year later to study as a teacher at Fourah Bay. In time, he became a teacher there himself. In 1841 he became a missionary on the Niger. After this, he was recalled to England where he trained as a minister and was ordained by the Bishop of London in 1843.
In the same year, he returned to Africa and opened a mission of his own in Abeokuta, Nigeria. He translated the Bible into Yoruba, wrote a Yoruba dictionary and published several books of his own on African languages. In 1864, he became the first African Bishop ordained in the Anglican Church.
When I began thinking about a group of heroes for my latest series of historical romances, my research and the workings of my quirky mind led me to the men of the African Squadron. Some historians believe these men took on this work only for the prize money. Depending on the mood of the prize court in Freetown, and the politics back in London, the crew could benefit from the seizure of each ship and each slave freed. However, on the slaver side of the ledger, some very powerful forces were still at work, both inside and outside of England, and often, the captains and crews were denied any payment by the courts.
The mortality rate among the men of the squadron was staggering. On some expeditions, an estimated one-third to one-half of all sailors died aboard individual ships. The marine surgeons who sailed with the West African Squadron are credited with finally linking the mosquito to the spread of fever and finding treatments. It’s difficult to imagine men would work under these conditions only for the money. They had to be courageous, fearless, and believers in the cause.
Although Parliament had passed a law outlawing slavery in 1807, the act was not fully operational until January 1808. However, at that time, England was fighting France in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean. There were approximately 795 Royal Navy ships in commission and they were very thinly spread.
By November 19, 1819, the war with France had been over for four years, and the Royal Navy at last had ships to spare. By this time the squadron was led by Cmdr. Sir George Collier who fought under Nelson at the Battle of the Nile. He was given six ships to cover a coast of about 2,500 miles, an area equivalent to the U.S. East Coast, from Maine all the way around Florida to New Orleans.
The Squadron’s lives in letters, portraits, diaries, and ships’ logs are part of a wonderful exhibit at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, England. Fortunately, most of the items have been digitized and are available online.
National Museum of the Royal Navy
The Royal Navy and the Slavers by W.E.F. Ward
Enforcing Abolition at Sea 1808-1898 by Bernard Edwards
Sweet Water and Bitter by Sian Rees
The first in the Men of the Squadron series, “Pride of Honor,” is up for pre-order on Amazon.
What if two people determined to marry anyone
but each other end up falling in love?
A hatpin-wielding, parasol-armed poet with a maddening Royal Navy officer in tow races against time to attract the marital attentions of the perfect “gentleman of the ton.”
Sophia Brancellli, the orphaned, illegitimate child of a duke’s daughter and an Italian poet, is on a mission. She must ensure her marriage to a “suitable gentleman of the ton” before her twenty-first birthday or she’ll be destitute, per the terms of her ducal grandmother’s will. Close to having her own poems published, Sophia has her hopes dashed each time by someone revealing her secrets. That same someone so desperately wants her to fail the terms of the will, they’re willing to commit violent acts to ruin her reputation.
Captain Arnaud Bellingham has ascended the ranks of the Royal Navy in spite of his half-French heritage by proving himself at the Battle of Algiers and with the West African Squadron. He seeks a simple marriage of convenience to a mature woman, a widow who has been his sometime mistress the last several years. The very thing he does not want, an exotic Italian innocent, literally falls into his life when he rescues her from kidnappers, although she disputes she needed saving. And now, honor and duty dictate he has to waste the rest of his leave guarding her through the mad whirl of the Season.
Sophie lost her balance and sat down with a thump at the edge of the street. Shaking, she sank her elbows to her knees and rested her head in her hands. Her parasol had rolled to the edge of the walkway. At a sharp cramp in her hand, she realized she still clutched her trusty hatpin. After a restorative breath, she looked up into the deeply tanned face of a Royal Navy officer in full uniform.
He knelt in front of her, asking question after question. “Are you hurt? Who did this to you? Are you with a chaperone?”
Blood dribbled from his wrist, staining his white glove. Zeus! The hatpin. She knew she should provide him with some answers, but couldn’t. She could barely breathe properly, so shaken was she by the encounter with the unknown men who’d tried to drag her toward a waiting hack carriage.
He grasped her by the shoulders. The warmth of his touch seeped through the thin muslin of her dress, and his solid competence fortified her courage. The runaway terrors slowed, allowing her to breathe normally again.
The first thought to pop into her head once she’d settled a bit was: Respectable women of the ton did not find themselves in situations like this. This was the sort of turmoil that might befall the actresses who had kept company with her late father.
“Are you hurt?” The naval officer shed his gloves and ran his hands down her arms as if seeking injuries. “By Jupiter! Is this your weapon?” The hatpin rolled into his hand from her slackened grasp, and he tucked it safely within a pocket. His frown softened a bit, he shook his head, and gave a low chuckle.
He clasped her hands as if he feared she might break and smoothed his thumbs over the soft pads beneath her thumbs. If the stranger continued his exploration for injuries, Sophie feared she might expire from pleasure. If only he knew the ink-stained fingers her white gloves hid.
More about Andrea
Andrea K. Stein is the daughter of a trucker and an artist. She grew up a scribbler. The stories just spilled out.
After writing and editing at newspapers for twenty-five years and then a short, boring stint as a consultant to commercial printers, she ran away to sea for three years to deliver yachts up and down the Caribbean.
She earned her USCG offshore captain’s license, but perversely, now writes romance set at sea while wrapped in sweaters and PJs in her writing room in Canon City, CO.
She has eight published romance novels available on Amazon. Three of those titles have been honored with awards. “Secret Harbor” earned a first place in the Pikes Peak Writers Fiction Contest in the romance category; “Fortune’s Horizon” finaled in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Romance category; and the latest novel, “Pride of Honor,” finaled in the national 2018 Beau Monde Royal Ascot Contest.
Coming Soon – Other Titles in the Men of the Squadron Series
Pride of Honor – February 2020
Pride of Duty – May 2020
Pride of Country – August 2020
Pride of Service – November 2020
The elegant portico opens up the courtyard.
The 5th Earl of Jersey (1773-1859) became the owner of Osterley Park by way of his marriage to Robert Child’s granddaughter, Sarah Sophia Fane, the Lady Jersey who was a patroness of Almack’s. The story of the young heiress is well known, the second elopement of a Child female.
Robert Child’s daughter (Sarah Anne Child) had eloped with John Fane, later 10th Earl of Westmorland, in 1782. Robert Child (1739-82), proud of being a prince of the merchant class and not an aristocrat, did not want his property and fortune to go to the Westmorland family. He wrote a will which left his money and property to the second child of his daughter. Sarah Sophia Fane inherited everything at age eight. In 1804, she married George Villiers, who changed his name (a necessity under Child’s will) to Child-Villiers and in time became the 5th Earl of Jersey. He was the son of that Countess of Jersey who was a mistress of the Prince Regent.
The Osterley house was rarely used by the Jerseys, who had a country estate, Middleton, in Oxfordshire in addition to a large townhouse in Berkeley Square. For decades Osterley was maintained but empty of life. The Jerseys entertained there only occassionally. Eventually it was let to Sarah’s cousin, Grace Caroline, dowager Duchess of Cleveland, a daughter of the 9th Earl of Westmorland. When she died, the 7th Earl of Jersey and his wife Margaret (1849-1945) lived and entertained there. The Lesson of the Master, a novella by Henry James, is set at Osterley.
In 1885, the famous library was sold for thirteen thousand pounds. After the 7th earl died in 1915, the tenancy of the house foundered again. For many years, it was rarely used until the 9th Earl opened it to the public on weekends. He gave it to the National Trust in 1949 and considerable restoration has taken place. It was recently used for some scenes in the film Gulliver’s Travels and has been in numerous other movies and television productions.
The rooms are arranged in a horseshoe, with the entrance hall at the top. After walking through the exterior portico, one crosses the courtyard and enters the magnificent hall, designed by Adam in 1767. The color scheme is neutral, greys and whites with stucco panels of ancient military scenes on the walls. The floor has a black pattern on white marble, a reflection of the plasterwork ceiling design.
The Breakfast Room at Osterley Park, Middlesex. The harpsichord was made for Sarah Anne Child in 1781 by Jacob Kirckman and his nephew Abraham. The lyre-back chairs are attributed to John Linnell.
The Breakfast Room has a lovely view of the park and was used as a sitting room, graced by Adam’s arched pier glasses. This room was redone in the 19th century, but the colors and some furniture is to Adam’s design. The drawing for this design is in Sir John Soane’s museum, London, as are many Adam designs. It is dated 24 April 1777. The room also contains a harpsichord of 1781, made by Jacob Kirckman and his nephew Abraham, who were well known for their instruments. It belonged to Sarah Sophia’s mother, the countess of Westmorland. After her death in 1793, her husband asked to have it sent to him as a memento of his wife; it was returned to Osterley in 1805.
The magnificent ceiling is another Adam masterpiece. The central medallion shows Minerva accepting the dedication of a child. The four smaller medallions show female representations of the liberal arts. As was the usual practice, these paintings were done on paper, affixed to canvas backing and placed in stucco frames after the ceiling was painted.
A self portrait by Angelica Kauffman. She did many paintings for Adam, often in her well-known allegorical style. In an era when most of the artists were men, Kauffman (1741-1807) excelled at portraiture and even huge historical and allegorical paintings. Born in Switzerland, she found great success in England. In 1781, she married her colleague Antonio Zucchi (1726-95) and the couple went to live in Rome. Adam had met Zucchi in Rome and persuaded him to come to England in 1766. Zucchi also executed many paintings for Adam rooms, often in ceiling medallions or above doors and fireplaces.
In the State Bedchamber stands a huge bed, made to the Adam’s design in 1776. The drawing is also in the Soane museum. Not only did Adam design the bed, he designed the hangings and embroidered silk counterpane and the interior of the dome. Included in the design are many allegorical symbols, including marigolds, the emblem of Child’s Bank. In this room is another of the exquisite ceilings by Kauffman.
During the Blitz, Daily Mail photographer Herbert Mason was on fire watch on the roof of his office building when he witnessed the bomb destruction happening around St. Paul’s Cathedral. Not knowing whether the Cathedral would survive, Mason fetched his camera and captured this photograph of St. Paul’s, which ran in the Daily Mail on 31 December, 1940, and quickly became an enduring symbol of hope for the people of Britain.
On the eve of the New Year, we at Number One London wish that each of you will experience health, happiness and the spirit of hope in the coming year.
My Own Heart – The London coach arrived today, bringing with it your gift of a partridge and a pear tree. You are too clever by half!
Yours For Eternity
My Love – Two turtle doves! How simply smashing. I cannot wait to see you again that I might thank you personally. You are too droll.
For Ever and Ever
Darling – There we were, my footman and I, dispensing bird seed when what should arrive at Blicking Hall but three French hens. You cannot imagine the look they brought to the footman’s face. Truly, you shouldn’t have.
Sweetheart – Four calling birds. How quaint. You should know that my lady’s maid is making noises about leaving the Hall. The footman is none too happy, either, although the local carpenter is quite over the moon to have been hired to construct the aviary. Typically, work is scarce for him at this time of year.
Dearest – How could you do this to me? I do not mean to be short with you, but none of us here has gotten much sleep of late, what with all the billing, cooing, chirping and calling the birds are wont to do.
P.S. Thank you for the five golden rings.
Dear – Now you’ve done it. Cook is quite put out by the six geese laying in her kitchen, and no wonder. You must end this. Accomplished cooks are difficult to come by in the country.
Dear Sir – I am most heartily sick of the sight of feathers. Your seven swans arrived today and are swimming in the ornamental fountain in the conservatory. Oldham has been snorting at me disdainfully all morning. Have you ever been snorted at by your butler? It’s off putting, to say the least.
Happy New Year
Sir – Is there a market for spare goose eggs? The eight maids you sent today are a welcome sight, what with all the seeds and feathers we have to sweep up hourly here. Once they have finished with that, the maids intend to walk to the village, where they are determined to help with the milking. Wherever shall they all sleep?
Please Cease and Desist
To Whom It May Concern – This daily gift giving business is no longer amusing. The entire village have followed the nine drummers drumming to our door. The staff are up in arms, save for the footman, who has not been seen since shortly after the eight maids arrived.
You black hearted scoundrel – the magistrate appeared at Blicking Hall today. It transpires that the villagers are being driven to distraction by the ten pipers and their constant piping. Perhaps you should have sent mimes.
Could you not have sent the eleven ladies dancing to Almack’s instead of to me? Do these outrageous gifts have anything to do with the betting book at White’s? Is that idiot Brummell somehow involved? Have you a good receipt for fowl fricassee?
My entire staff have deserted me, taking with them the maids, pipers, dancing ladies and, blessedly, the drummers. There is the tiniest bit of good news – I have been given to understand that some of them have made successful matches and are currently bound for Gretna Green. I was headed to my rooms with a bottle of port when who should arrive but twelve lords a leaping. And what lords they are – so handsome, so gallant, so utterly divine! How could I have doubted your intentions? Please give my regards to all in London, as I fear I shall be much too occupied here at Blicking Hall to partake of the Season.
Your Most Grateful Friend