Henrietta Marie


Henrietta Marie

The "Henrietta Marie" was one of the many slave ships that carried slaves to what is now the United States, and was named for Queen Henrietta Maria wife of King Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1600-1649). In 1701 she sank 35 miles off the coast of Key West after selling 190 slaves to Jamaica. Mel Fisher (and divers from his company Salvors Inc.) found the "Henrietta Marie" in 1972. When the boat was fully excavated they found iron shackles and other devices that were used to torture and punish the slaves aboard. The boat was recognized only because of the bronze bell that was found inside of it with the name inscribed on its side.

The "Henrietta Marie" was the earliest slave ship to have ever been identified. Her destination route consisted of the same triangular trade route, which was favored by the slave traders, from England to the Guinea Coast to America. Accounts relating to the "Henrietta Marie"’s voyages were uncovered, as were the names of her investors, captains, and wills of some of her crewmembers. Artifacts that were found at the site proved helpful insight for creating an image of shipboard life and the practices of the slave trade. Today, she is believed to be the world’s largest source of substantial objects from the early years of the slave trade. As such it has been considered a “gold mine" of information about a pivotal period in Africa.

In May 1993, the National Association of Black Scuba Divers placed a memorial plaque on the site of the "Henrietta Marie". The plaque faces the African shore thousands of miles away, and has the name of the slave ship and reads, “In memory and recognition of the courage, pain and suffering of enslaved African people. Speak her name and gently touch the souls of our ancestors." Dr. Colin Palmer stated, "the story ends in 1700 for this particular ship, but the story of what the ship represented continues today," he says. "The importance of the "Henrietta Marie" is that she is an essential part of recovering the black experience - symbolically, metaphorically and in reality".

It was featured on the History Channel's "Deep Sea Detectives."

Bibliography

* [http://www.jmr.nmm.ac.uk/server/show/ConJmrArticle.209/setPaginate/No Dr Jane Webster, "Journal of Maritime Research", Dec 2005]


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