Catalogue description Captured ship: L'Abraham of Nantes: master Jacques Berthomé. History: a French merchant...

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Details of HCA 32/97/1
Reference: HCA 32/97/1

Captured ship: L'Abraham of Nantes: master Jacques Berthomé.

History: a French merchant ship with a letter of marque (250 tons, 46 men, 14 guns) bound from Martinique to Nantes, laden with sugar, coffee, cassia and cotton; taken in fight after 100 shots fired, on 4 June 1745 in latitude 45°50'N by the privateers Boscawen (George Walker commanding) and Sheerness (John Furnell commanding), and brought into Bristol.

L'Abraham was a slave trade ship, captured on the return leg of her voyage from Nantes to Martinique via the Guinea coast, along with the Martinique supply ships Le St André of Bordeaux (Pierre Gautier, master), La Belle Louise (Jean Fromentin, master), Le Duc de Guienne (Pierre Lestourniere, master) and La Victoire (René Brulé, master). Her original master was Jean Abram, who died at sea, 22 July 1744, and was superseded by the second captain, Berthomé.


Court Papers: now numbered [CP1-CP8]:

  • [CP1-CP3] three examinations;
  • [CP4] standing interrogatories;
  • [CP5] commissioners' affidavit;
  • [CP6] allegation;
  • [CP7] attestation of papers;
  • [CP8] translation and abstract of ship's papers;

Ship's Papers:

  • Bundle A: now numbered A1-A31;
  • Bundle B: now numbered B1-B36: inc. accounts of goods traded for slaves on the Guinea coast;
  • Bundle C: now numbered C1-C50: inc. inventories of effects and cargo belonging to Captain Jean Abram, who died at sea, 22 July 1744;
  • [Bundle D]: now numbered D1-D20: inventories of officers and crewmen who died at sea, 1744-1745;

Personal Archives: mostly letters written between the ship in the road and her officers ashore at 'Epée', 'Espée' or 'La Prée' [probably modern-day Epe in Nigeria] arranging trades to buy enslaved people on the Guinea coast. [This is an exceptional collection for the study of the slave trade, both in size and detail.]

  • [Bundle E]: now numbered E1-E109: letters received by Berthomé, Feb-July 1744 (numbered in reverse chronological order);
  • [Bundle F]: now numbered F1-F122: letters from Abram to Berthomé, and from Berthomé and other officers to Abram, written ashore, Feb-June 1744;
  • [Bundle G]: now numbered G1-G83: letters from Berthomé to his officers ashore, Feb-May 1744;
  • [Bundle H]: now numbered H1-H121:
    • H1-H77: letters to Abram ashore, Feb to mid-May 1744;
    • H78-H121: letters from Lt Fichet to Auziuizier, first surgeon of L'Abraham, ashore, mid-May to June 1744;
  • [Bundle I]: annotated '142 lettres dans ce pacquet' but now numbered I1-I144:
    • I1-I98: letters from Berthomé to Abram ashore, Feb to mid-May 1744;
    • I99-I144: letters from Berthomé to Auziuizier ashore, mid-May to June 1744;
  • [Bundle J]: now numbered J1-J7:
    • J1: list of goods sent ashore, used as a wrapper for six odd letters"not worth copying" (in French), which are now J2-J7, with a tally of 'letters copied' which related to the original bundles, now partially restored (e.g. the 142 letters 'from ship to shore' which now form Bundle I);
    • J2-J7: letters Mar-May 1744;
  • [Bundle K]: now numbered K1-K69: letters from Abram (except two written by Auziuizier) to various officers at the storehouse ashore, 28 Feb-5 May 1744;
  • ([Bundle L] transferred to HCA 32/157/4 in January 2018).
  • [Bundle M]: assorted papers of Abram and Berthomé:
    • M1-M10, and M21: more of Abram's papers, 1739-1744 (one in English), including some from earlier slave trading voyages to West Africa as captain of Le Mercure, and three letters written to him after the date of his death;
    • M11-M20: letters and papers of Berthomé, Jan-Dec 1744 (one in Dutch).
  • [Bundle N]: papers of Louis Goron, second captain of L'Abraham:
    • N1-N2: Jan-Feb 1741, when second captain of La Hirondelle;
    • N3-N9: 1742-1743;
    • N10-N11: Dec 1743-Jan 1744, when second captain of La Meduse;
    • N12: letter from Berthomé, Apr 1745.

Miscellaneous papers:

  • [Bundle O]: now numbered O1-O10.


  • [Bundle P]: now numbered P1-P62: mail-in-transit taken from all five ships captured from the convoy and muddled together by the captors. In only a few cases are the letters marked with the name of the ship in which they were carried, so this bundle has been put with the Abraham's papers rather than distributed among the papers of the five ships.
  • [Bundle Q]: papers of François Giron, the master of La Triomphante, a Nantes triangle-trade slaver. A plausible explanation for these papers being in the Abraham (or another ship of the convoy) is that Germain Shallue, an Irish merchant naturalised in Martinique and perhaps acting as the agent for François Browne & Co, sent them back to Nantes in the mail. (Giron was subsequently captured twice: in 1746 when master of Le Conquerant, and in 1748 when master of Le Bolton).
    • Q1-Q11: packet of papers Giron sent to Germain Shallue before leaving Martinique in October 1744 (formerly in HCA 30/670);
    • Q12-Q15: letters addressed to Giron at Martinique from his employers, François Browne & Co, written at Nantes in October and November 1744. Giron could not have received these, as he left Martinique in La Triomphante on 8 October and arrived in Nantes on 8 December. Therefore, it seems likely that when they arrived at Martinique around January 1745, they were collected by Shallue.

[Decision: condemned as prize 9 July 1745]

Note: Extra information from HCA 30/775/1 and HCA 30/775/4. Letters (mail in transit) added in the 1950s from HCA 30/235 and HCA 30/670
Date: 1745
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and French
Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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