Thomas Bluett

ca. 1690 - 1749


Some Memoirs of the Life of Job


Section II








Of the Manner of his being taken Captive;

and what followed upon it, till his Return.


IN February, 1730. Job's Father hearing of an Engliſh Ship at Gambia River, ſent him, with two Servants to attend him, to ſell two Negroes and to buy Paper, and ſome other Neceſſaries; but deſired him not to venture over the River, becauſe the Country of the Mandingoes, who are Enemies to the People of Futa, lies on the other ſide. Job not agreeing with Captain Pike (who commanded the Ship, lying then at Gambia, in the Service of Captain Henry Hunt, Brother to Mr. William Hunt, Merchant, in Little Tower-Street, London) ſent back the two Servants to acquaint his Father with it, and to let him know that he intended to go farther. Accordingly, (17) having agreed with another Man, named Loumein Yoas, who underſtood the Mandingoe Language, to go with him as his Interpreter, he croſſed the River Gambia, and diſpoſed of his Negroes for ſome Cows. As he was returning Home, he ſtopp'd for ſome Refreſhment at the Houſe of an old Acquaintance; and the Weather being hot, he hung up his Arms in the Houſe, while he refreſh'd himſelf. Thoſe Arms were very valuable; conſiſting of a Gold-hilted Sword, a Gold Knife, which they wear by their Side, and a rich Quiver of Arrows, which King Sambo had made him a Preſent of. It happened that a Company of the Mandingoes, who live upon Plunder, paſſing by at that Time, and obſerving him unarmed, ruſh'd in, to the Number of ſeven or eight at once, at a back Door, and pinioned Job, before he could get to his Arms, together with his Interpreter, who is a Slave in Maryland ſtill. They then ſhaved their Heads and Beards, which (18) Job and his Man reſented as the higheſt Indignity; tho' the Mandingoes meant no more by it, than to make them appear like Slaves taken in War. On the 27th of February, 1730. they carried them to Captain Pike at Gambia, who purchaſed them; and on the firſt of March they were put on Board. Soon after Job found means to acquaint Captain Pike that he was the ſame Perſon that came to trade with him a few Days before, and after what Manner he had been taken. Upon this Captain Pike gave him leave to redeem himſelf and his Man; and Job ſent to an Acquaintance of his Father's, near Gambia, who promiſed to ſend to Job's Father, to inform him of what had happened, that he might take ſome Courſe to have him ſet at Liberty. But it being a Fortnight's journey between that Friend's Houſe and his Father's, and the Ship failing in about a Week after, Job was brought with the reſt of the Slaves to Annapolis in Maryland, (19) and delivered to Mr. Vachell Denton, Factor to Mr. Hunt, before mentioned. Job heard ſince, by Veſſels that came from Gambia, that his Father ſent down ſeveral Slaves, a little after Captain Pike failed, in order to procure his Redemption; and that Sambo, King of Futa, had made War upon the Mandingoes, and cut off great Numbers of them, upon account of the Injury they had done to his Schoolfellow.

Mr. Vachell Denton ſold Job to one Mr. Tolſey in Kent Iſland in Maryland, who put him to work in making Tobacco; but he was ſoon convinced that Job had never been uſed to ſuch Labour. He every Day ſhewed more and more Uneaſineſs under this Exerciſe, and at laſt grew ſick, being no way able to bear it; ſo that his Maſter was obliged to find eaſier Work for him, and therefore put him to tend the Cattle. Job would often leave the Cattle, and (20) withdraw into the Woods to pray; but a white Boy frequently watched him, and whilſt he was at his Devotion would mock him, and throw Dirt in his Face. This very much diſturbed Job, and added to his other Miſfortunes; all which were increaſed by his Ignorance of the Engliſh Language, which prevented his complaining, or telling his Caſe to any Perſon about him. Grown in ſome meaſure deſperate, by reaſon of his preſent Hardſhips, he reſolved to travel at a Venture; thinking he might poſſibly be taken up by ſome Maſter, who would uſe him better, or otherwiſe meet with ſome lucky Accident, to divert or abate his Grief. Accordingly, he travelled thro' the Woods, till he came to the County of Kent, upon Delaware Bay, now eſteemed Part of Penſilvania; altho' it is properly a Part of Maryland, and belongs to my Lord Baltimore. There is a Law in force, throughout the Colonies of Virginia, Maryland, Penſilvania, (21) &c. as far as Boſton in New England, viz. That any Negroe, or white Servant who is not known in the County, or has no Paſs, may be ſecured by any Perſon, and kept in the common Goal, till the Maſter of ſuch Servant ſhall fetch him. Therefore Job being able to give no Account of himſelf, was put in Priſon there.

This happened about the Beginning of June, 1731. when I, who was attending the Courts there, and had heard of Job, went with ſeveral Gentlemen to the Goaler's Houſe, being a Tavern, and deſired to ſee him. He was brought into the Tavern to us, but could not ſpeak one Word of Engliſh. Upon our Talking and making Signs to him, he wrote a Line or two before us, and when he read it, pronounced the Words Allah and Mahommed; by which, and his refuſing a Glaſs of Wine we offered him, we perceived he was a Mahometan, but (22) could not imagine of what Country he was, or how he got thither; for by his affable Carriage, and the eaſy Compoſure of his Countenance, we could perceive he was no common Slave.

When Job had been ſome time confined, an old Negroe Man, who lived in that Neighbourhood, and could ſpeak the Jalloff Language, which Job alſo underſtood, went to him, and converſed with him. By this Negroe the Keeper was informed to whom Job belonged, and what was the Cauſe of his leaving his Maſter. The Keeper thereupon wrote to his Maſter, who ſoon after fetch'd him home, and was much kinder to him than before; allowing him a Place to pray in, and ſome other Conveniencies, in order to make his Slavery as eaſy as poſſible. Yet Slavery and Confinement was by no means agreeable to Job, who had never been uſed to it; he therefore wrote a Letter in Arabick to his Father, (23) acquainting him with his Miſfortunes, hoping he might yet find Means to redeem him. This Letter he ſent to Mr. Vachell Denton, deſiring it might be ſent to Africa by Captain Pike; but he being gone to England, Mr. Denton ſent the Letter incloſed to Mr. Hunt, in order to be ſent to Africa by Captain Pike from England; but Captain Pike had ſailed for Africa before the Letter came to Mr. Hunt, who therefore kept it in his own Hands, till he ſhould have a proper Opportunity of ſending it. It happened that this Letter was ſeen by James Oglethorpe, Eſq; who, according to his uſual Goodneſs and Generoſity, took Compaſſion on Job, and gave his Bond to Mr. Hunt for the Payment of a certain Sum, upon the Delivery of Job here in England. Mr. Hunt upon this ſent to Mr. Denton, who purchaſ'd him again of his Maſter for the ſame Money which Mr. Denton had formerly received for him; his Maſter being very willing (24) to part with him, as finding him no ways fit for his Buſineſs.

He lived ſome time with Mr. Denton at Annapolis, before any Ship could ſtir out, upon account of the Ice that lay in all the Rivers of Maryland at that Time. In this Interval he became acquainted with the Reverend Mr. Henderſon, a Gentleman of great Learning, Miniſter of Annapolis, and Commiſſary to the Biſhop of London, who gave Job the Character of a Perſon of great Piety and Learning; and indeed his good Nature and Affability gain'd him many Friends beſides in that Place.

In March, 1733. he ſet ſail in the William, Captain George Uriel Commander; in which Ship I was alſo a Paſſenger. The Character which the Captain and I had of him at Annapolis, induced us to teach him as much of the Engliſh Language as we could, he being (25) then able to ſpeak but few Words of it, and thoſe hardly intelligible. This we ſet about as ſoon as we were out at Sea, and in about a Fortnight's Time taught him all his Letters, and to ſpell almoſt any ſingle Syllable, when diſtinctly pronounced to him; but Job and my ſelf falling ſick, we were hindered from making any greater Progreſs at that Time. However, by the Time that we arrived in England, which was the latter End of April, 1733. he had learned ſo much of our Language, that he was able to underſtand moſt of what we ſaid in common Converſation; and we that were uſed to his Manner of Speaking, could make ſhift to underſtand him tolerably well. During the Voyage, he was very conſtant in his Devotions; which he never omitted, on any Pretence, notwithſtanding we had exceeding bad Weather all the time we were at Sea. We often (26) permitted him to kill our freſh Stock, that he might eat of it himſelf; for he eats no Fleſh, unleſs he has killed the Animal with his own Hands, or knows that it has been killed by ſome Muſſulman. He has no Scruple about Fiſh; but won't touch a bit of Pork, it being expreſly forbidden by their Law. By his good Nature and Affability he gained the good Will of all the Sailors, who (not to mention other kind Officeſ) all the way up the Channel ſhewed him the Head Lands and remarkable Places; the Names of which Job wrote down carefully, together with the Accounts that were given him about them. His Reaſon for ſo doing, he told me, was, that if he met with any Engliſhman in his Country, he might by theſe Marks be able to convince him that he had been in England.

On our Arrival in England, we heard that Mr. Oglethorpe was gone to Georgia, and that Mr. Hunt had provided a Lodging (27) for Job at Limehouſe. After I had viſited my Friends in the Country, I went up on purpoſe to ſee Job. He was, very ſorrowful, and told me, that Mr. Hunt had been applied to by ſome Perſons to ſell him, who pretended they would ſend him home; but he feared they would either ſell him again as a Slave, or if they ſent him home would expect an unreaſonable Ranſom for him. I took him to London with me, and waited on Mr. Hunt, to deſire leave to carry him to Cheſhunt in Hartfordſhire; which Mr. Hunt comply'd with. He told me he had been apply'd to, as Job had ſuggeſted, but did not intend to part with him without his own Conſent; but as Mr. Oglethorpe was out of England, if any of Job's Friends would pay the Money, he would accept of it, provided they would undertake to ſend him home ſafely to his own Country. I alſo obtained his Promiſe that he would not (28) diſpoſe of him till he heard farther from me.

Job, while he was at Cheſhunt, had the Honour to be ſent for by moſt of the Gentry of that Place, who were mightily pleaſed with his Company, and concerned for his Miſfortunes. They made him ſeveral handſome Preſents, and propoſed that a Subſcription ſhould be made for the Payment of the Money to Mr. Hunt. The Night before we ſet out for London from Cheſhunt, a Footman belonging to Samuel Holden, Eſq; brought a Letter to Job, which was, I think, directed to Sir Byby Lake. The Letter was delivered at the African Houſe; upon which the Houſe was pleaſed to order that Mr. Hunt ſhould bring in a Bill of the whole Charges which he had been at about Job, and be there paid; which was accordingly done, and the Sum amounted to Fifty-nine Pounds, Six Shillings, and eleven (29) Pence Half-penny. This Sum being paid, Mr. Oglethorpe's Bond was deliver'd up to the Company. Job's Fears were now over, with reſpect to his being ſold again as a Slave; yet he could not be perſuaded but that he muſt pay an extravagant Ramſon, when he got home. I confeſs, I doubted much of the Succeſs of a Subſcription, the Sum being great, and Job's Acquaintance in England being ſo ſmall; therefore, to eaſe Job's Mind, I ſpoke to a Gentleman about the Affair, who has all along been Job's Friend in a very remarkable Manner. This Gentleman was ſo far from diſcouraging the Thing, that he began the Subſcription himſelf with a handſome Sum, and promiſed his further Aſſiſtance at a dead Lift. Not to be tedious: Several Friends, both in London and in the Country, gave in their charitable Contributions very readily; yet the Sum was ſo large, that the Subſcription was about twenty Pounds ſhort of it; but that generous and worthy (30) Gentleman before mentioned, was pleaſed to make up the Defect, and the whole Sum was compleated.

I went (being deſired) to propoſe the Matter to the African Company; who, after having heard what I had to ſay, ſhew'd me the Orders that the Houſe had made; which were, that Job ſhould be accommodated at the African Houſe at the Company's Expence, till one of the Company's Ships ſhould go to Gambia, in which he ſhould be ſent back to his Friends without any Ranſom. The Company then aſk'd me, if they could do any Thing more to make Job eaſy; and upon my Deſire, they order'd, that Mr. Oglethorpe's Bond ſhould be cancelled, which was preſently done, and that Job ſhould have his Freedom in Form, which he received handſomely engroſſ'd with the Company's Seal affixed; after which the full Sum of the whole Charges (viz. Fifty-nine Pounds, (31) Six Shillings, and eleven Pence Half-penny) was paid in to their Clerk, as was before propoſed.

Job's Mind being now perfectly eaſy, and being himſelf more known, he went chearfully among his Friends to ſeveral Places, both in Town and Country, One Day being at Sir Hans Sloan's, he expreſſed his great Deſire to ſee the Royal Family. Sir Hans promiſed to get him introduced, when he had Clothes proper to go in. Job knew how kind a Friend he had to apply to upon occaſion; and he was ſoon cloathed in a rich ſilk Dreſs, made up after his own Country Faſhion, and introduced to their Majeſties, and the reſt of the Royal Family. Her Majeſty was pleaſed to preſent him with a rich Gold Watch; and the ſame Day he had the Honour to dine with his Grace the Duke of Mountague, and ſome others of the Nobility, who were pleaſed to make him a handſome Preſent after (32) Dinner. His Grace, after that, was pleaſed to take Job often into the Country with him, and ſhew him the Tools that are neceſſary for Tilling the Ground, both in Gardens and Fields, and made his Servants ſhew him how to uſe them; and afterwards his Grace furniſhed Job with all Sorts of ſuch Inſtruments, and ſeveral other rich Preſents, which he ordered to be carefully done up in Cheſts, and put on Board for his Uſe. 'Tis not poſſible for me to recollect the many Favours he received from his Grace, and ſeveral other Noblemen and Gentlemen, who ſhewed a ſingular Generoſity towards him; only, I may ſay in general, that the Goods which were given him, and which he carried over with him, were worth upwards of 500 Pounds; beſides which, he was well furniſhed with Money, in caſe any Accident ſhould oblige him to go on Shore, or occaſion particular Charges at Sea. About the latter End of July laſt he embark'd (33) on Board one of the African Company's Ships, bound for Gambia; where we hope he is ſafely arrived, to the great Joy of his Friends, and the Honour of the Engliſh Nation.