Before Time

Between 1863 and 1904, more than 62 000 Islanders were brought to Queensland and Fiji, mainly from Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, to provide cheap labour for the burgeoning sugar, cotton and pearling industry.  A small number of labourers came from other South Pacific Islands including Kirribati, Tuvalu and Samoa.  Peru also conducted a series of devastating slave raids which significantly depopulated Easter Island, Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu, Samoa and the Maquesas in just two years in 1862 and 1863.

 

Australia's first acknowledged blackbirder was actually Captain Ben Boyd when in 1847, his schooner Velocity landed sixty-five men from the New Hebrides for his sheep and cattle stations in New South Wales.

Blackbirding in it's most significant form, and what most people talk about, began with Sydney politician and merchant, Captain Robert Towns who arranged for a sandalwood trader operating from Tanna, Henry Lewin, to recruit islanders from the Loyalty and New Hebrides Groups (Vanuatu) in 1863 for his cotton plantation on the Logan River.  

Over a period of about 40 years, 62 000 Islanders were brought to Queensland from Melanesia, mainly from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, to provide cheap labour for the burgeoning sugar industry.  A small number of labourers came from the Polynesian and Micronesian islands such as Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu.  During this time Fiji also conducted consistent labour recruiting from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Rotuma, Gilbert and Ellice Islands.

Peru, on the other hand was a particularly poor account having conducted a series of devastating slave raids which significantly depopulated Polynesian and Micronesian Islands including Easter Island, Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu, Samoa and the Maquesas in just two years between 1862 and 1863.

Read more: When did blackbirding begin?

Between 1863 and 1904, more than 18 000 Islanders were brought to Queensland and Fiji, from the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (Northern Solomons - Buka and Bougainville), to provide cheap labour for the burgeoning sugar, cotton and pearling industry.  A small number of labourers came from other South Pacific Islands including Kirribati, Tuvalu and Samoa.  Peru also conducted a series of devastating slave raids which significantly depopulated Easter Island, Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu, Samoa and the Maquesas in just two years in 1862 and 1863.

 

Fiji was also a major recruiter of neighbouring Pacific Nations with an estimated 10,000 Solomon Islanders recruited with just over 4,000 being returned after their contract.  Further recruitment from the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) was undertaken with many people still living in Fiji wanting to return home. 

 

(Papua) New Guinea was the target of recruiters, particularly for Queensland and Samoa but also itself at times recruited from the Solomon Islands for German plantation owners based in New Guinea. 

From the time between 1886 and 1899, Buka Island and Bougainville Island (Northern Solomons, now PNG) were also significant recruiting grounds for the German plantation owners from New Guinea and Samoa.  Further recruitment from Buka, Bougainville and other parts of New Guinea was also at the request of Queensland plantation owners. 

Got information to share or looking for family?  Contact us today.

 

NEW CALEDONIA

The recruiting for New Caledonia was conducted mainly in the New Hebrides (Vanautu) with small numbers also coming from the Solomon Islands.

SAMOA

The main recruiting undertaken for Samoa was by German plantation owners who recruited from the Solomon Islands and New Hebrides but had a particular success from the northern Solomons being Bougainville and Buka Island.

PERU

One of the most devastating Blackbirding expeditions in the Pacific was done in the first couple of years between 1862 and 1864 when the Peruvian slave traders went on raids throughout the Eastern Pacific region intending on the New Hebrides but ended up raiding the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Rotuma, Tokelau Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Marquesas Islands, Caroline Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Easter Island and the Gilbert Islands.  

Of the 3,634 Polynesians who were recruited for Peru, only 2,116 made it ashore. 345 died during the short voyage and a further 1,009 were held on ships for repatriation never landing for their slavery term.

Of these, 3,215 died as a direct result of the recruiting.  To add insult to inury, due to the recruiting process and the introdution of disease from the recruiters such as smallpox and dysentery, a further 2,950 polynesians died indrectly from the recruiting process having never left their Island.  Only four (4) years after the end of the raid, only 257 of the recruited Polynesians survived.

Blackbird Advetures and BeforeTIME Productions are seeking information on vessels used in labour recruiting including photographs, stories, wreck locations, recruits, owners, ship logs, manifests and more.  Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get involved.

BLACKBIRDING VESSELS TO AUSTRALIA & FIJI  (171+)

n694109127_2169175_7112Active, Agnes McDonald, Albert, Alfred Vittrey, Amy Robarhart, Annie Brooks, Archimedes, Ariel, Aoba, Atlantic, Au Revoir, Aurora, Black Dog, Black Swan, Bobtail Nag, Blanche, Borealis, Borough Belle, Cambria, Carl, Captain Cook, Ceara, Chance, Challenge, Charybdis, Christine, Clansman, Colleen Brawn, Coquette, Daphne, Dancing Wave, Donald McLean, Don Juan, Dauntless, Effie Meikle, Ellen, Elibank Castle, Eliza Mary, Emily, Emma, Empreza, Esperanza, Ethel, Eugenie, Fanny, Fanny Campbell, Fanny Nicholson, Fearless, Flirt, Flora, Foam, Forest King, Fredericka Wilhemlmina, Gael, Gazelle, Hally Bayley, Havannah (formerly John S Lane), Heath, Heeton, Heather, Heather Belle, Helen, Helena, Hector, Heron, Hopeful, Io, Isabella, Ivanhoe, Jabberwock, Janet Stewart, Jason, Jessie Kelly, Juventa, Kate Kearney, Keith, Kestrel, King Oscar, Krishna, Lady Belmore, Lady Darling, Lady Norman, Lallan Rooke, Lavinia, Leslie, Leueneuwa, Lindsay, Lismore, Lizzie, Lochiel, Lord of the Isles, oelia, Lucy & Adelaide, Lulu, Lytton, Lyttona, Madeline, Magnet, Maid of Riverton, Malekula, Margaret Chessel, Maria, Marion Rennie, Mavis, Marina Ellen, Mona, Mary, Mary Ann Christina, Mary Smith, Mary Campbell, Mary Stewart, May, May Flower, May Queen, Meg Merrilees, Mystery, Myrtle, Native Lass, Nautilus, Nautilus, Northern Belle, Noumba, Nukulau, Pacific, Planet, Petrel, Para, Percy, Portunia, Restless, Reliance, Rio Loge, Ripple, Roderic Dhu, Rotuma, Ruby, Samoa, Saucy Lass, Sea Breeze, Sir Isaac Newton, Southern Cross, Spec, Spunkie, Stanley, Stormbird, Sybil, Superior, Sydney Belle, Syren, Sibyl, Sybil, Syren, Telegraph, Trevlevan Family, Toroa, Ubea, Upolu, Uncle Tom, Velocity, Venture, Victoria, Wilhelmina Frederika, William Manson, Windward Ho, Winifred, Woodbine, Woodlark, Young Australian, Young Dick, Zephyr

NAVAL VESSELS (27+)

HMS Alacrity, HMS Basilisk, HMS Barracouta, HMS Beagle, HMS Conflict, HMS Calliope, MHS Cormorant, HMS Curacoa, HMS Dart, HMS Diamond, HMS Emerald, HMS Espiegle, HMS Falcon, HMS Miranda, HMS Opal, HMS Pearl, HMS Pegasus, HMS Pelorus, HMS Raven, HMS Renard, HMS Resolution, HMS Rosario, HMS Royalist, HMS Sandfly, HMS Sappho, HMS Swinger, HMS Wolverene

MISSIONARY VESSELS (3+)

Dove, John Williams, Southern Cross


BLACKBIRDING VESSELS TO PERU (32+)

Adelante, Apurlmac, Barbara Gomez, Bella Margarita, Carolina, La Concepcion, Cora, Dolores Caronlina, Eliza Mason, Ellen Elizabeth, Empresa de Lima, Genara, General Prim, Guayas, Guillermo, Hermosa Delores, Honorio, Jorge Zahara, Jose Castro, Manuelita Costas, Margarita, Mercendes A. de Wholey, Micaela Miranda, Misti, Polinesia, Rosalia, Rosa Patricia, Rosa y Carmen, Serpiente Marina, Teresa, Trujillo, Urmeneta y Ramos

OTHER VESSELS

Mary Anderson, Torres Herald

John J Paton

John Williams

 

More to come... 

 

Latest News

Blackbird's LATEST EDITION of Storian Blong Yumi is out now. Learn of the UNKNOWN ISLANDER, the ABORIGINAL CONNECTION, seaching for lost shipwrecks with FINDING HELENA, join BLACKBIRD ADVENTURERS, help us get our very own TALL SHIP, enjoy our new range of BLACK FEATHER wines, enter great competitions,...

Featured

  During Australia's main Blackbirding days between 1863 to 1904 Queensland sugar and cotton plantations, sheep and cattle farms, pearling and fishing vessels and domestic households were worked by South Sea Islanders who were recruited – or more accurately during the Blackbird “era” kidnapped – by men who were, and are still known today as Blackbirders.   Blackbirding in the Pacific region was not only left to Australians.  Plantation owners in Fiji, New Caledonia, German plantation owners in Samoa and Papua New Guinea recruited for their respective locations.  In 1862 and 1863 Peruvian mine owners organised devastating slave raids on the Pacific. Over a period of about 40 years, 62,000 Islanders were brought to Queensland from the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and other parts of the South Pacific to provide cheap labour for the burgeoning sugar industry.  A small number of labourers came from the Polynesian and Micronesian islands such as Samoa, Kiribati and...