Catalogue description Board of Trade: Marine Department: Wrecking in the Bahamas

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Details of BT 210
Reference: BT 210
Title: Board of Trade: Marine Department: Wrecking in the Bahamas

These Marine Department papers consist mainly of copies of, and extracts from, the despatches of successive governors to the Colonial Office and of HM Ambassador to the United States to the Foreign Office concerning the wreckers in the Bahamas.

Also in this series there is interdepartmental correspondence, information supplied by interested parties and departmental minutes and drafts relating to the activities of wreckers in the Bahamas.

Date: 1855-1860
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Trade, Marine Department, 1850-1921

Physical description: 50 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

In the middle of the nineteenth century the activities of wreckers, licensed salvors of the hulls and cargo of ships wrecked off the Bahamas, were much criticised; in particular, deliberate wrecking and collusion with shipmasters to defraud insurance underwriters were alleged against them. Moreover, the arbitration procedures of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and the high fees and awards of salvage of the Bahamas vice-admiralty court were the cause of further complaint. Sir Alexander Bannerman, governor of the islands until 1857, and his successor Charles John Bayley sought, against local opposition, to control the wreckers. In 1858 the Bahamas Wrecking Act, which introduced to the islands some of the provisions of the UK Merchant Shipping Act 1854, was passed and some reforms introduced into the vice-admiralty court. Neither of these measures was wholly successful in resolving the problem.

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