Contents and Arrangement

"Journal of my particular proceedings when detach'd from or acting separate from my Colleague Mr. Wm. Harrison", 1785 April 28-1787 May 15

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of a 35-page journal detailing Matthews's activities while employed in the slave trade in Sierra Leone, as an agent of Samuel Hartley and Company, a London-based merchant. Entries document Matthews's extensive travel in the region, especially to the Banana Islands and inland upriver from Sherbro Island on the Deong (Jong) River; the purchase of captured Africans and supplies; and negotiations with other slavers and regional rulers involved in the trade. Matthews gives particular detail to the effect of local wars on commerce and his involvement in negotiating peace between two local kingdoms. Another entry includes "Directions for going up to York Island from Jenkins in the River Sherbro." Written from the back of the journal are an additional four pages containing retained draft copies of five letters Matthews wrote from Deong and York Island, Sierra Leone, between April 20th and 25th, 1787. The letters, which pertain largely to business matters and disputes over business practices, are addressed to C. Harrison; J. Cleveland; George Oliver and John Jenkins; and Thomas Sewell (2 letters). There are also several loose documents relating to Matthews's journey up the Deong River. These include multiple drafts of an 1787 agreement between John Matthews and his partner William Harrison, as agents of Samuel Hartley and Company; the Kings of Sherbro; and George Oliver and John Jenkins, traders and residents of the River Deong. The agreement regards compensation, claims of extortion, and prohibitions against capturing free people who had not committed a crime. There is also a document titled, "Invoice of Sundrys supplied on board the Pilgrim."


Arranged by type of material, then chronologically.

Collection History


No materials were separated during 2017 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in August 2017. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in August 2017.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

"Journal of my particular proceedings when detach'd from or acting separate from my Colleague Mr. Wm. Harrison"; Captain John Matthews Papers, C1575, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Sources consulted in the creation of this finding aid include: Matthews, J. A Voyage to the River Sierra-Leone, on the coast of Africa; Containing an Account of the Trade and Productions of the Country, and of the Civil and Religious Customs and Manners of the People; in a Series of Letters to a Friend in England. By John Matthews ... during his Residence in that Country in the Years 1785, 1786, and 1787. With an Additional Letter on the Subject of the African Slave Trade. Also, a Chart of Part of the Coast of Africa, from Cape St. Ann, to the River Rionoonas; with a View of the Island Bananas. London, Printed for B. White and Son, and J. Sewell, 1788. Retrieved from Sanderson, F. E. "Liverpool and the Slave Trade: A Guide to Sources." Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, CXXIV (1973). Retrieved from Schwarz, S. "'A Just and Honourable Commerce': Abolitionist Experimentation in Sierra Leone in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries." African Economic History, 45.1 (2017). Retrieved from

Great Britain. Royal Navy
Matthews, John, lieutenant in the Royal Navy