1841 Letter from Atkins Hamerton
Atkins Hamerton (d. 1857) was a British military officer and diplomat, who served as the first British Consul to the Omani Empire based in Zanzibar. He left behind thousands of pages of sources, presently scattered between archives in the U.K., Zanzibar, and India. In the first letter excerpt, he is complaining to his superiors about the poor status of British merchants in East Africa; in the second, he is expressing his offense at the pictures displayed in Sa‘id’s residence showing British naval defeats. In this source, Sa‘id bin Sultan is referred to as both “His Highness” and “the Imam.”
No 23 of 1841
To His Excellency, Lieutenant General Sir L. [Lionel] Smith Bt [Baronet] K.C.B. [Knight’s Commander of the Order of the Bath]
Governor of the Mauritius
I have the honor to report for your Excellency’s information that in obedience to instructions from the Government of India, I arrived here on the 4th May last on a Mission to His Highness the Imam.
2. I am sorry to inform your Excellency that our influence at Zanzibar is in the lowest possible scale, there being a strong party in favor of the French and American interests and more particularly the latter…
From Captain A. [Atkins] Hamerton
British Agent at Zanzibar
To J. P. Willoughby Esq.
Secretary to Government Bombay
Dated 20 August 1841
I have the honor to report for the information of the Honorable the Governor in Council, the arrival here on the 2nd instant of [His Majesty’s] Sloop of War Lily under the command of Commander Allen. The Lily is one of the vessels on the Cape of Good Hope Station…
7th I mention the following circumstances indicative of the feeling here towards us. On the first day of my arrival here I observed two pictures in richly gilt frames hung up on either side of H.H. the Imam’s chair in the room where he holds his [diplomatic meetings], the subjects were naval engagements between American and English ships, the ship of England is represented as just taken by the American, and the English Ensign being hauled down as the American hoisted at the mast head…