Lord Lyons to Mr. Seward.

Sir: With reference to your note of the 4th April last, and to my answer, dated the 7th of the same month, I have the honor to transmit to you copies of a despatch from the governor of the Bahamas islands, and its enclosure, respecting the circumstances under which the ship Hanover, of Boston, visited Long cay.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Governor Bayley to Lord Lyons.

My Lord: In reply to your lordship’s despatch of April 30, I transmit a report received from Mr. John Burnside, resident magistrate of Inagua, (which I am obliged to transmit in original, because I have no time to have it copied, and should feel obliged to your lordship to have it returned,) respecting the circumstances under which the Hanover appeared at Long (not Levy) cay.

Whatever her character, or whoever the ostensible master may have been, I am convinced that no suspicions of either were entertained by any officials of this government, until it was too late to act on them.

I have directed further inquiries to be made.

I have, &c,

C. BAYLEY, Governor.

Lord Lyons, &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Burnside to the Hon. Mr. Nesbitt.

Sir: This morning I received your letter of the 18th of March, covering Mr. Jackson’s letter to his excellency the governor, relative to the Hanover.

As I happened to be at Long cay while the Hanover was there, I may, by stating what came under my own observation, furnish such information as is required without waiting for the inquiry which his excellency directs me to institute on my next visit to that island, which will be in the month of July.

I left Long cay to go the rounds of my district a few days previous to the arrival of the Hanover. On my return to Long cay, the Hanover was at anchor [Page 642] on the south side of the island, and her cargo was being transferred to the schooner Brothers, owned by the Messrs. Farrington. I made inquiries regarding her, and I received the following information, which was the current report of the town, and in fact the person representing himself as the captain of the Hanover confirmed it. He told me that his vessel had been on shore at Little Inagua; that he had succeeded in getting her off without the assistance of the wreckers, but finding that she leaked badly, he determined to take her to Mathewtown; that there he met this schooner Brothers, which vessel he knew to have been commanded by a friend and countryman, one Poithiers; that he immediately sent for Captain Poithiers, but that another person, representing himself as the captain, came and informed him of the death of Captain Poithiers. The then captain informed him that the Brothers was still owned by the Messrs. Farrington, of whom he had heard Captain Poithiers speak highly, and that they were still at Long cay. This determined him to proceed to Long cay. Fearing that he might require assistance on the way, he asked the Brothers to accompany him, and that after arriving at Long cay, he consigned to Mr. Richard Farrington. He reported to me that he was bound from Boston to a port on Cuba, or to seek a market, and with the proceeds of the sale of the cargo he was instructed to purchase a cargo of salt and run the blockade; that finding that the Hanover was not injured, he had determined to dispose of as much of his cargo at Long cay as would purchase a cargo and pay expenses, and that the balance he intended to ship to Nassau in the Brothers. I expressed surprise that a Boston firm would engage in an illicit trade with the south, and he replied that there were many southerners at heart in Boston.

I had my doubts as to the vessel having been on shore at Inagua, and I mentioned my doubts to Mr. Farrington. I told him that I. was under the impression that in the cargo there might be articles contraband of war, and that the reported disaster was but a ruse to prevent the Boston merchant being tracked in Nassau in his illicit trade with the south; but I found out afterwards, on. inquiry from the acting tidewaiter, that the cargo was really one of provisions.

Mr. Farrington admitted that he also doubted whether the Hanover had been on shore, but inasmuch as the captain came to him properly documented, he did not see any impropriety in his acting as the captain’s agent, and that he was not aware of any illegality in the matter. And I must here add that I am under the impression that up to that moment Mr. Farrington was as ignorant of the real facts of the case as I was. It must be remembered that the captain was a perfect stranger; that the register and. articles of the Hanover were produced, I believe, at the collector’s office, but I know that he had the ship’s clearance, the bills of lading, and even the certificate from the custom-house in Boston that the captain had taken the oath of fidelity to the Union. He represented himself as Captain Case, and signed all documents as Washington Case, the name of the captain; as appearing on the documents. As soon as the Brothers was loaded, this person left in her for Nassau, but I have been since informed that he only went as far as Rum cay, where he was taken off by the Retribution.

The Hanover remained a day or two, after the Brothers had left, at Long cay, under the charge of the former mate, taking in a cargo of salt; and it was only about half an hour previous to her departure that I—and I am under the impression Mr. Farrington also—had the slightest misgiving that the person who had represented himself as the captain of the Hanover was not Washington Case. One of the sailors of the Hanover, under the influence of liquor, referred to the supposed captain in the collector’s presence by some other name. I was with Mr. Farrington when the collector mentioned the circumstance; reference was immediately made to the document, and the difference in the signatures confirmed what the collector had heard. The supposed Captain Case had then [Page 643] left in the Brothers, and no action could have been taken, even if I had been armed with power; but even then we were under the impression that the name had been assumed in the custom-house in Boston by some other person to facilitate Captain Case’s leaving Boston, supposing him to have been a suspicious person; and it was only after I left Long cay, on my way to Inagua, that we met a vessel from Inagua, and I received a letter from Mr. Sargent informing me that he was under the impression that the Hanover was a prize to the Retribution.

These are the facts of the case, so far as came to my knowledge.

Since I have been made aware that the Hanover was a captured vessel, I have wondered why the real Captain Case had allowed the whole of the papers of his vessel to fall into the captor’s hands, particularly his certificate of allegiance. That surely might have been removed from the ship’s papers, if not destroyed.

I have also been informed, and I believe correctly, that the cargo of the Hanover was found to be not such as was manifested in the bills of lading. For instance, barrels said to contain pork contained fish. Messrs. G. Regnourds & Co. purchased the cargo, and may, if necessary, be enabled to state whether such was the case. I have also been informed that the Hanover was insured against war risks.

I have heard from Long cay that the Retribution, subsequent to the affair of the Hanover, captured an American brig in the neighborhood of Castle island, the Emily Fisher, with a cargo of sugar; that the commander of the Retribution ordered her to be run on shore near Long cay; and that subsequently she was extricated from danger by the wreckers, who carried her to Long cay, where salvage was awarded to the wreckers, and a portion of the cargo sold to pay the salvage and expenses; and the Emily Fisher then proceeded with the balance of her cargo to New York.

On the latter occasion the Retribution did call at Long cay, and some of her officers had communication with Mr. Richard Farrington, and at that time the supposed Washington Case was seen on board of the Retribution, but I do not know in what capacity.

This is all the information I can give, and I desire to be informed whether I shall make further inquiries when I visit Long cay.

I have, &c, &c,


Hon. C. R. Nesbitt.

P. S.—I return Mr. Jackson’s letter.