HC Deb 08 July 1845 vol 82 cc140-1
Mr. Sheil

inquired of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government what was the number of American vessels over which we had exercised the right of visiting since the Treaty of Washington was signed?

Sir R. Peel

said, that the number of vessels visited had been very considerable. He trusted, however, that the right hon. Gentleman would not require a specification of the exact number, when he informed him that the right of visiting had been exercised in every case where a vessel had excited a reasonable suspicion. He was happy to be able to add, that the exercise of that right had hitherto not led to any injurious consequences, nor had it provoked any ill-feeling on the part of any portion of the American squadron which had acted in co-operation with us. Perhaps the House would allow him to read the two latest communications received by the Government from the coast of Africa; one as to a case where the Right of Search was exercised by a British cruiser alone, after the signing of the Treaty of Washington, and the other where there was a co-operation between the combined English and American squadrons. The first letter was as follows:—


"Her Majesty's Brig Heroine, at sea, April 22. 1845.

"Sir—In obedience to the orders contained in the general instructions for commanders of Her Majesty's vessels employed in the suppression of the Slave Trade, I beg leave to inform you that on the 22nd ultimo, I visited in Mayamba Bay an American schooner, the Henry, and on the 21st of February the American brig Starling, of Beverley, in order to ascertain their nationality, and, no objections having been made to the visit, I found them to be bonâ fide Americans, and left them as soon as possible.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,


Lieutenant and Commander, commanding on the West Coast of Africa."

The next was where there was a conjoint operation. It ran as follows:—

"Her Majesty's Ship Penelope, Ascension, May 6.

"Sir—I have the honour to enclose a Report from Commander Russell, of the Ardent, reporting operations in the Rio Pongas, in which he was cordially assisted by Commander Bruce, of the United States sloop, the Truxton. The result was successful, and highly satisfactory in all respects, two slavers having been surprised, and taken in one of their inner haunts; one vessel under Spanish colours was seized by the Ardent's boats, while at the same moment the officers of the Truxton took possession of another schooner, under American colours. The latter vessel has since been sent to Boston for adjudication. This incident, and other indications of sincerity on the part of the American officers now serving on this station, lead me to hope for a degree of future co-operation which cannot but have desirable effects.—I have the honour to be, &c.


Commodore and Senior Officer commanding.

"The Right Hon. H. T. L. Corry, &c., Admiralty."

Commander Russell writes— Lieutenant Johnson mentions the cordial good feeling that existed between the officers and men of the two nations, in the highest terms; and the zeal, energy, and activity that prevailed among them, which is gratifying for me to record.

He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would rest satisfied that the right of visiting had been exercised in every case where it was desirable, and that it had, as far as he was aware, been exercised with forbearance and caution, and without any interruption of the good understanding between the two squadrons.

Sir C. Napier

would be glad to know whether any British vessels had been searched by the Americans?

Sir R. Peel

was not aware of any instance in which that had occurred; no doubt if suspicious circumstances arose, the Right of Search would be exercised.