HMS Clio correspondence (1844)

The following correspondence between Fitzjames and Governmental departments in the Persian Gulf and India gives you an impression of the duties and tasks Fitzjames had as Captain of HMS Clio. All letters are held by the British Library’s India Office Records and Private Papers and have been digitised by the Qatar Digital Library here (pp. 3-6) and here (pp. 81-103). [Transcriptions by Fabiënne Tetteroo]

Image: HMS Clio in 1824, drawing in the collection of the National Maritime Museum

Captain Samuel Hennell to Captain Fitzjames, 30th January 1844

Commander James Fitzjames to Captain Samuel Hennell, 13th February 1844

Commander James Fitzjames to Captain Samuel Hennell, 20th February 1844

Commander James Fitzjames to John Pollard Willoughby, 27th February 1844

Captain Samuel Hennell to Captain Fitzjames, 30th January 1844

[p. 81]
No 57 of 1844

Residency in the Persian Gulf
Bushire 30th January 1844

To Captain Fitzjames
Commanding Her Majesty’s “Brig Clio”
Bushire Roads

                With reference to the approach-
ing departure of Her Majesty’s Brig Clio
under your Command for Bombay, I have
the honor to state, that the public interests
in this Quarter would be greatly promoted
by your visiting the several Ports, on the
Arabian and Persian Coasts notified
in the Margin. Letters addressed to the
different Chiefs and Agents are herewith
enclosed for the purpose of being deliver-
ed in the course of your cruise. The
Honorable Company’s Vessels of War Coote
and Mahi will be instructed to accom-
pany you on this occasion.
2.            The British Government  

Aboo thabee
Ras el Khymah
Bunder Abbass

[p. 82]
having a claim upon Shaik Mahomed
bin Khuleefa, the present Chief of Bah-
rein, for the sum of German Crowns
( 491 ) Four hundred and Ninety one, on
account of the plunder of a Charrak
Boat by some of his Dependents of the
Paloota Tribe, I have in my commu-
nication to him, intimated, that you
will receive the amount in question.
I entertain every expectation that my
request will be acceded to without hesi-
tation, in which case, may I beg the
favor of your paying over the amount
received, to the Senior Officer of the
Indian Navy, for eventual transmission
to the Residency.  In the event how-
ever of the Shaik making any demand
in settling the amount of the claim above
referred to, I would wish you to press
the matter so far as to make him aware
that by non-compliance he will incur

[p. 83]
the displeasure of the British Govern-
3.            According to reports re-
ceived from our Agent at Muscat there
would appear to be an Indian Female
now at Kishm, whom it is suspected
Shaik Abdool Rahman, the Chief of
that Island, is detaining against her
own consent. May I therefore request
that on your arrival off Kishm, you
will send for the individual in ques-
tion, and ascertain from her, whether her
remaining in that place is voluntary
or otherwise. In the event of her wish-
ing to return to her Native Country, may
I beg the favor of your affording her
a passage on board the “Clio”, to Bombay,
and making her over to the Senior Magis-
trate of Police.-
4.            In a late communication
received from Shaik Syf bin Nubhan, the

[p. 84]
Governor of Bunder Abbass, that Chief
reports the recovery of two Boxes, as-
serted by Mr Fisher (the Master and
owner of the Merchant Brig “Mary Malla-
“) to have contained a large amount
of Treasure, and to have been stolen by
the Arabs from the wreck of that vessel.
These Boxes, on being opened in the pre-
sense of the Master of the Merchant Ship
Columbia, and other respectable per-
sons were found to contain only stones.
It may perhaps be in your power, while
at Bunder Abbass, to obtain more full
and correct information than is at
present forthcoming regarding the ex-
act spot, and the position in respect to
the wrecked Vessel, in which the Boxes
in question were discovered. The whole
of the circumstances connected with the
loss of the “Mary Mallaby” and the subse-
quent disappearance of the two chests of

[p. 85]
Treasure, are of such a suspicious
character, that I am satisfied the Hon-
‘ble the Governor in Council will be
greatly obliged, should the result of
your enquiries throw any further light
upon this apparently nefarious affair. –
5.            I have directed the Governor
of Bunder Abbass to make over to you
the two boxes above referred to, and in
requesting you will do me the favor to
take charge of and convey them to Bom-
bay for disposal as the Government
may see fit. –

I have the honor to be &co
/Signed/ S. Hennell

Resident in the Persian Gulf

                In the event of your finding
on your arrival at Muscat, that our
Agent there has succeeded in rescuing
any Natives of India from Slavery, may

[p. 86]
I request, you will have the goodness
to convey them to Bombay in Her Ma-
jesty’s Vessel, and hand them over to
the charge of the Senior Magistrate of
Police. –

“True Copy”
/Signed/ A.B. Kemball
Assistant Resident in the Persian
                                                    Gulf. –

Commander James Fitzjames to Captain Samuel Hennell, 13th February 1844

[p. 3]
Her Majesty’s Sloop Clio
Bunder Abbas 13th Feb 1844


In compliance with the requisition
contained in your letter of the 30th Ulto (No 57 of
1844), I have the honor to acquaint you that
H.M. Sloop Clio under my Command visited
the several Ports on the Arabian and Persian
Coasts, on the days and at the hours as appears in the
2             Having intimated to the Sheik of
Bahrein, through the British Agent at that Island
that I would receive the sum of 491 German Crowns
due from him to the British Government, if he
felt inclined to pay it, and that if it was not
paid I should be under the necessity of
reporting the circumstances to the Government
of Bombay, whither I was proceeding. I had
the satisfaction, after some little delay, to receive
a bag which was said to contain 2209 (two
thousand, two hundred and nine) Mahommed Sheik
rupees. As I did not understand the exact rate
of exchange, the bag was sealed in my presence
and delivered to Commr Nott of the H.C. Sloop
Coote, whose reception duplicate I herewith enclose.
3             At Aboothubbee I received an
amicable visit from the Sheikh Khaleefa ben
Shakboot, as also from Sheikh Muftoon at
Debaye, to both of whom I delivered your letters
and received from Khaleefa, one in return,
which I send you. At Sharja, I saw the British

To      Captain S. Hennell.
British Political Resident in the
Persian Gulf

Leaving Bushire [Bushehr, Iran] on the
3rd Febry at 11 30 am

She arrived at Bahrein
4th Febry at 11 30 am, left
Bahrein, the 6th at 7 am

Arrived at the ild of Seir
Aboneid [Sir Abu Nuʽayr, United Arab Emirates] the 7th Febry at
8 Pm —
Arrived at Abboothubbee [Abu Dabi, United Arab Emirates]
the 8th at Noon

Arrived at Debai and
Sharja [Dubai and Sharjah, United Arab Emirates] the 9th at 5 Pm

Arrived at Amulgavine [Umm Al Quwain, United Arab Emirates] on the 10th at Noon

Arrived at Ras el Khuma [Ras Al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates]
on the 10th at 10 PM, left
on the 11th at 10 AM

Arrived at the ild of
Kishm [Qeshm, Iran] on the 11th at 5 PM

Arrived Bunder Abbass [Bander Abbas, Iran]
the 12th at 4 PM

[p. 4]
British Agent Moollah Hoossein, and gave him your
letter for himself and the Sheikhs, Suggur beny Sultan
and Suleh ben Suggen. I also entrusted to his care
the letters for the Sheikhs of Amulgavine and Kymam,
merely shewing the Squadron off those Ports.
4             I remained one night off Ras-el-Khyma, as
we arrived too late in the evening to communicate,
but did not anchor, and I sent the letter to
Sheikh Sultam by his Moonshee, who came on
board immediately.
5             I did not heave to at the Town of Kishm
which we approached within 2 miles, but having
requested Captn Nott to leave the Mahi at that
place, and having furnished Lieutt McDonald
with an extract from your letter to me, referring
to the supposed detention of a female slave, by
the Sheikh Abdool Rahman, I have received
from that officer a report, of which I enclose a
6             At Bunder Abbass I saw Sheikh
Abdool Rahman and from what he said
as well as from the statement (from his own
personal knowledge) of Mirza Mohommed
Ali, the Monshee attached to the Senior
Indian Naval Officer, I have every reason to
believe that no female of any description has
ever been detained against her will on the
Island of Kishm, and that the woman in
question left Kishm some time since to go to her
friends at Kermanshew. She may or may not
have returned to Kishm, but I could gain no
further tidings of her movements, habits or
pursuits, except that she had an exceedingly
ugly mother with her.  The several enquiries
respecting a woman, long since forgotten, has
excited much surprise, and some merriment in
the place, nor can I imagine, that after the full
and satisfactory enquiries made by Capt Porter,
soon after the seizure and abduction to Chiroo
of the Bughalah [boat] in which the woman was, any
further investigation is necessary.
7             The Sheikh of Kishm however, has
promised, on his return to that Town, to cause a
full and minute enquiry to be made as to, when,

[p. 5]
how, and whither she left, went or disappeared;
and to report in writing everything that can be
ascertained respecting her, for your information.
8             With respect to the wreck of the “Mary Mallaby”
the information left on my mind, from the conversation
I had with the Sheikh of Bunder Abbass – Seif bin
Nabhan, is that that ship was purposely run
on shore in this bay on a fine afternoon on or
about the 25th of July last. The information I
obtained shews that the Master and owner of her
sold her to Sheikh Abdool Rahman of Kishm,
who got her afloat and transferred her to the
Imaum of Muscat, who sent to desire that her
anchors might be recovered, from the place where
they had been left, close to where the vessel grounded.
That on creeping for these anchors, two boxes
were discovered, which the Sheikh supposing to
contain treasure, caused to be opened in the
presence of several respectable inhabitants
and the Master and Second Officer of the Barque
Columbia, then laying in the Roads and that
on opening these boxes they were found to be
full of Stones. I have agreeably to your
request, taken these two boxes on board as
also a deposition in Persian of the different
witnesses to the opening of the said boxes, signed
and sealed by them and witnessed by Mr Jas
Colman Master of the Barque “Columbia” and
Mr Alexdr McNiel the second officer, and a
statement by Mr Jas Coleman, all of which
I shall hand over to the Government of Bombay.
9             In conclusion I beg to observe
that during the whole of the above service
in which H.M. Sloop Clio has been employed
I have derived the utmost benefit from that
valuable advice and cordial assistance which
the knowledge of the Gulf and proficiency
in the Hindustanee language, so well
enabled Captain Nott commanding the
H.C. Sloop of war Coote to afford, which advice
and assistance has been equally tendered and
accepted by me, from Lieut McDonald
commanding the H.C. schooner Mahi, whenever

[p. 6]
I had occasion for them.
I have also every reason to be satisfied
with the conducts of the British Agents at
Bahrein and Ras-el-Khyma, Hadjee Jassim
and Moollah Hoossein.

I have the honor to be
Your most obet servant

James Fitzjames

                Since writing the above letter, I
have learned from Captn Nott, that an
Arab was sent off by the Sheikh of
Bunder Abbas to the Coote after H.M. Sloop
Clio had left for this place, to state, that
he had seen the female, supposed to have
been detained in Kishm, at Muscat

H.M.S. Clio – Ild of Ormeez  [Hormuz]                 James Fitzjames
7.30 PM 14th February 1844                                        Commander

Commander James Fitzjames to Captain Samuel Hennell, 20th February 1844

[p. 101]
To Captain S. Hennell
British Political Resident in the Persian Gulf

                I have the honor to acquaint you
that on the arrival here yesterday of Her Ma-
jesty’s Sloop “Clio” under my Command, I
did not foil to make the most special
enquiries of the British Agent, Reuben Ibn
Aslan, on the subject of the female supposed
to have been detained at Kishm.
                Nothing that I have gained in
conversation from the Agent, has tended to
alter the opinion that I have already had
the honor of expressing in my letter to you
from Bunder Abbas of the 13th Instant,
on that subject, as all his information
is derived from Nakodars of Bughalas
and others from the Island of Kishm.
                Some Arabs in a bughala lately
arrived from that Island, mentioned to

[p. 102]
him the same report that I alluded to in
the Postscript of that letter, right that the
woman had gone to Muscat. She has
however, not yet arrived here nor can I
ascertain that she has left Kishm.
                I beg however to express to you
my opinion of the zeal and ability which
Reuben Ibn Aslan has shewn in laying
hold of, and forwarding every report
which was likely to elucidate the fact of
a British subject being in slavery.
                Agreeably to your last request
I have enquired about the slaves supposed
to be ready for a passage to Bombay
from this port, and in conversation,
with the British Agent, have obtained
such information as to the detention here
by the minions of Seid Soweny of two
boys and two girls, natives of India as
will induce me to lay the result before
the Governor of Bombay in Council.
                Your letter to Seid Soweny,

[p. 103]
was delivered to the Acting Governor,
Seid Mahomed ibn Satem ben Sultoum,
Seid Soweny being at the town of Bur-

Her Majesty’s Sloop       I have the honor to be &c,
“Clio”, Muscat 20th                /Signed/ James Fitzjames
February 1844                   Commander R.N.

True Copy
/Signed/ James Fitzjames
Commander R.N.

Commander James Fitzjames to John Pollard Willoughby, 27th February 1844

[p. 87]
From, Commander James Fitz James
Her Majesty’s Sloop “Clio”

To, J.P. Willoughby Esquire
Secretary to the Government of Bombay
Dated 27th February 1844


                Referring to the 3d Paragraph of
your letter to me, N. 16 of the 24th October 1843, &
to my letter from Bussorah of the 27th November
1843, I have the honor to inform you for the in-
formation of the Hon’ble the Governor in Council,
of my arrival, this day at Bombay, having left
Muscat on the 20th Instant.
                For a detail of my proceedings, from
the departure of Her Majesty’s Sloop Clio from
Bushire, on the 3d of February to her arrival
at Muscat on the 19th. I beg to refer to a copy
of my letter to the Resident in the Persian Gulf,
from Bunder Abbas, dated the 13th February
(Enclosure No 1), as also a copy of my letter to
him from Muscat dated the 20th February (No 2)

[p. 88]
by which the Hon’ble the Governor in Council
will perceive that I have complied with the re-
quisition, contained in the aforesaid letter from
yourself, by “visiting different ports at which
it is desirable, Her Majesty’s Sloop “Clio” should
show herself.”
                As you will perceive, by my letter
to Captain Hennell, from Bunder Abbas, I made
such enquiries respecting the wreck of the “Mary Mallaby”,
as circumstances permitted, and I have the honor
to inform you, that I have brought the two boxes,
said to contain treasure, but found to contain stones,
therein alluded to, which I am ready to dispose of
in any manner you may suggest. I also beg to
enclose a Persian document (No 3), witnessed
by the Master and 2d Officer of the “Columbine”, on
the subject of the opening of the said boxes, as also
a statement by the said Master, James Cromer,
(No 4) which documents procured from Sheikh,
Seif Nabhan, of Bunder Abbas, giving him a
receipt for the same.

[p. 89]
                From the British Agent at
Muscat, Reuben ibn Aslan, I obtain that
Fisher, the Master of the “Mary Mullaby”, came
to Muscat in a Bughala, & sailed, almost
immediately in a ship, then on the point of starting
for Calcutta.
                That he took with him, from the
house of a merchant of Muscat, Seid bin Calfan,
two Chronometers, and several trunks and packages
which he had deposited there, before going to
Bunder Abbas. These boxes were said to contain
treasure, but nothing certain was known.
                The “Mary Mullaby” is gone to the
Mauritius, under the Command of a Captain
Davis, the Master of the late Barque “Sir
James Cockburn”, which was wrecked, some
time since near Muscat.
                The information obtained from Reuben
ibn Aslan, relative to the detention of five
individuals, subjects of British India, by
or with the knowledge of the present Governor

[p. 90]
of Muscat Seid Souweny, and with the parti-
culars of which Hon’ble the Governor in
Council, is doubtfully unacquainted, I have drawn
up in a separate form, from the conversation of the
British Agent, which I enclose herewith.
(No 5)
                After having paid a visit of
ceremony to the Acting Governor of Muscat, Seid
Mahomed-ibn-Salem, I desired the British
Agent to go to him, and demand an explana-
tion, in my name of the detention of the above
individuals. He answered, that he could not
in any way interfere, nor did he know any-
thing of the circumstances, as he was merely
acting for the Governor,  Seid Soweny who was
living at the town of Burkha.
                I then directed the Agent
to write and tell Seid Soweny that Her Majesty’s
Sloop “Clio”, had been in the port of Muscat
and that having made inquiries, relative to the
aforesaid Slaves, I should report the result

[p. 91]
to the Government of Bombay

Her Majesty’s Sloop            I have the honor to be &c
Clio Bombay 27 Feby             [Signed] James Fitzjames
1844                                                      Commander