Catalogue description Records of the Slave Trade Adviser to the Treasury

Details of Division within HCA
Reference: Division within HCA
Title: Records of the Slave Trade Adviser to the Treasury

Records of the Slave Trade Adviser to the Treasury, relating to the administration of questions arising following the abolition of the slave trade.

Report books are in HCA 35, with registered papers in HCA 37 and unregistered papers in HCA 36

Date: 1821-1897
Related material:

Other records of the slave trade adviser are in HCA 30

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Slave Trade Adviser to the Treasury, 1821-1895

Physical description: 3 series
Administrative / biographical background:

In 1821 William Rothery was appointed by the Treasury to report to them on all cases of vessels and cargoes captured and condemned contrary to the acts and treaties then in force relating to the abolition of the slave trade. The appointment arose partly from the fact that some two years earlier Rothery had been appointed secretary of a mixed British and Portuguese commission established to assess compensation payable to the owners of Portuguese vessels and cargoes which had been wrongfully captured as slavers by British cruisers. In many cases the proceeds of these illegal captures were still in the hands of captors' agents and in some instances bounties had been obtained. Rothery represented to the Treasury that as compensation was about to be granted for these illegal captures the proceeds ought, wherever possible, to be accounted for and repaid to the government.

In connection with his duties Rothery was required to investigate accounts and proceedings arising out of slave cases in the High Court of Admiralty and report whenever Treasury directions appeared necessary. He was also responsible for reporting upon applications for bounties in respect of slaves captured, previously dealt with by the King's Proctor. During the course of his employment Rothery was called upon to advise the government on a number of occasions on matters connected with the slave trade and finally retired from the public service in 1860 when 85 years of age.

He was succeeded by his son, Henry Cadogan Rothery, who had been appointed registrar of the High Court of Admiralty in 1853 in place of Henry Birchfield Swabey, whose resignation as registrar had been enforced following the discovery of serious deficiencies in the Suitors' Fund of the court.

The younger Rothery continued in his post as Admiralty registrar, being remunerated separately for his additional duties in connection with the slave trade. In 1878 he resigned the registrarship following his earlier appointment as wreck commissioner, under the Merchant Shipping Act 1876, but he continued to act as referee to the Treasury on matters relating to the slave trade.

When he retired in 1888 the question of a successor was left in suspense but work in connection with wreck inquiries and the slave trade continued to be handled by his Office. In 1895 the remaining wreck work, mainly in connection with the claims of nautical assessors, passed to the Treasury and the duty of advising that department on slave trade questions was transferred to the Admiralty Registry.

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