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BLACK JOKE Schooner Ex slaver HENRIETTA taken by SYBILLE and purchased in 1828. She was armed with one long 18-pounder on a swivel and one 18-pdr. carronade and had a complement of 44 officers and men.
Broken up in 1832.

    The Black Joke was an old tune later known as The Sprig of Shillelagh.
    "Sublime was the warning which Liberty spoke" Thomas Moore (1779 - 1852).
  • 1828 Tender to SYBILLE on the coast of Africa under the command of Lieut. William TURNER.
  • On 29 April BLACK JOKE fell in with a Spanish brig which claimed to have a regular commission from the King of Spain to act as a privateer against vessels of South American states.
    Two days later they came together again and the Spaniard was seen to be flying an English red ensign so Lieut. TURNER sent over a boat with Edward HARVEY, master's mate, and two men to investigate. They were detained by the Spaniard who sent an officer and 5 men back in the same boat to examine Lieut. TURNER's commission. When a suggestion that the two ships should exchange 15 men each before going to Prince's Island was rejected by Lieut. TURNER, the Spaniard fired a broadside. BLACK JOKE, on the other's bow, replied with grape for two hours before the Spaniard hoisted a flag of truce and returned Mr HARVEY and his two companions.
    Lieut. TURNER was promoted to commander in July for his gallantry.
  • In 1831 BLACK JOKE was tender to DRYAD on the coast of Africa with Lieut. William RAMSEY in command. In her short career BLACK JOKE captured 21 slavers.
  • BLACK JOKE was at anchor at Fernando Po on 22 April 1831 when Lieut. RAMSEY learned from Mr Mather, commanding one of the colonial vessels, that a powerful Spanish slave brig was in the Old Calabar River. With a complement of more than 70, including some English, she was armed with a large pivot and four broadside guns.
    He sailed at once and commenced a night-time blockade of the river, retreating just over the horizon every morning with his topsails lowered. Early on the 25th. the slaver came out and BLACK JOKE took up the chase. It was 9 PM before she came within range and fired a shot to order the brig to bring to. This was answered by three shots from the slaver's broadside guns. Lack of wind under the lee of Fernando Po forced both vessels to resort to sweeps and it was 1. 30 the following morning before a close action started with BLACK JOKE suffering much damage to her rigging and sails. When the two vessels came together BLACK JOKE's two guns fired grape and Lieut. RAMSEY and the mate, Mr BOSANQUET, together with 10 men jumped aboard the slaver only to be stranded as the two vessels separated. A 14 year old midshipman, Mr HINDE, ordered the hands to the starboard sweeps, brought them back together and led the remainder of the crew to the aid of the little band on the hostile deck, leaving only one or two wounded men behind.
    Fifteen of the slaver's crew were killed for the loss of only one man although Lieut. RAMSEY, Mr BOSANQUET and five men from BLACK JOKE were wounded.
    The prize proved to be the MARINERITO of 300bm and mounting five 18pdrs. Of the 496 slaves on board 26 were found to be dead when the hatches were opened. 107 were found to be in such a bad state that they had to be landed at Fernando Po where 60 of them died. The rest were taken to Sierra Leone.
    Lieut. RAMSAY, Mr BOSENQUET and the assistant surgeon, Mr Richard DOUGLAS were all promoted in August following recommendations from Commodore HAYES of DRYAD.
  • In 1832 BLACK JOKE's timbers were so decayed that she was ordered to be burnt.

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© 1995, 2007 Michael Phillips