African American Murdered on the Cutty Sark

The story of Murder on the Cutty Sark

Captain Wallace chief mate, was a man known by the name Sidney Smith, also to become known as John Anderson. The Ship sailed from London to Cardiff where they picked up an African American able seaman by the name of John Francis, 16th May 1880. Alexander Anderson was a sail maker on the voyage noted that John Francis was not a skilled able seaman.

During the voyage there were several altercations between smith and John Francis, including a strike down

During a voyage on what later became known as the Hell ship voyage on 10th September 1880, a fight broke out onboard. 

Slack away the Tack!

First Mate order to the crew during the terrible storm in Japanese waters

I was in the mate’s watch—Francis was on tire forecastle on the look out—it, was a dark stormy night—about 9.30 we were, hauling the sails round—the fore lazy tack was fast—the prisoner sung out twice “Let go that lazy tack!”—I don’t know, whether Francis did not or would not hear it—then all the watch sang out “Lot „ go that fore lazy tack!”—he then let it go, and the end of it went overboard—the prisoner went round to Francis and said “Why did you let; go that lazy tack?”—he said, “You told me to let it got and I let it go “—if he had let it go properly the end would not have gone over, but he. was no sailor and knew nothing about it—the prisoner said to the watch “The b-r-.—did that out of spite,”

Old Bailey Proceedings, July 1882, trial of JOHN ANDERSON, evidence by Alexander Jansen

This enraged the chief mate, he shouted that he would put Francis overboard, and charged toward Francis. Smith picked up a broken Capstan bar and swung a fatal blow to John Francis. He died the following day.

The Captain had tried to force some men to sign a statement that Smith had acted in self-defence, but they had found no weapon by Francis only the broken one Smith had used. By the time they approached Anjer, the captain accidentally dropped the evidence of the broken Capstan bar overboard. On  17/8/1880 the ship anchored at Anjer

Escape to freedom

Smith had let it out the bag to crew member Somers that he would leave later on that evening and that there was no use telling the Captain because he had arranged it. An American ship Colorado was happy to take on the Bully Mate and he escaped changing his name to John Anderson.  His up and start happened two years later when a Cutty Sark carpenter spotted Smith at the West India Docks London on a ship Mary Anne Nottebohm. In 1882 he was tried for murder and charged with manslaughter 7 years’ service, but Kently denotes this man had killed before and knew the limits of the punishments.

When the Captain of the Cutty Sark Went Overboard

Wallace the Captain in effect, helped Murderer Bully Mate to escape when they reached Indonesia, port Anjer.  Wallace paid a price for this as he himself was not to last long. The crew refused to work,  leaving only apprentices and a few men to run the ship. Things came to a head the tides were too calm, the heat, no winds, seemed a stalemate position. Wallace had the realisation his career would be over, resulting in a social disgrace, that they would find out he helped a murder escape, destroyed evidence and how the crew would grass up about the forced statements. His fate would end once they arrived at the next port, so he thought to abort early.

9/9/1880 Wallace  Jumped overboard, but they saw only sharks in the area he was thought to jump to and was never seen again.

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