PYRATICALLY AND FELONIOUSLY: The Taking of Joachim/Cuffee
also: Why is it called Eleven Names Project? and a review of the First Church slavery report
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Joachim/Cuffee: Missing piece found.
It's always exciting when new evidence unlocks details of a once-obscure life. This is especially true in the case of an enslaved boy whose story I first stitched together while investigating the case of John Colman, who accused Joseph and Paul Dudley of trafficking him from John Quelch's pirate ship. [See Monday’s newsletter for more.]
In Race & Slavery At The First Church Of Roxbury: The Colonial Period (1631–1775), released on Monday and reviewed below, scholar Aabid Allibhai reveals the boy’s name via a discovery in the UK National Archives, and for the first time, we can remember him by his African name, Cuffee, and his Portuguese name, Joachim.1
The myth that records of enslaved people in New England are scarce has been debunked time and time again, but Aabid's discovery of Joachim/Cuffee's name takes it to the next level, and now we have the opportunity to bring Joachim/Cuffee's name back to the forefront of this hard New England history. In 1704, the trial manuscript for the Arraignment, Tryal, and Condemnation of Capt. John Quelch And Others of his Company was printed. This document provides background on the events leading to Quelch's mutiny and details of his crimes. I highly recommend Wesley Fiorentino's marvelous summary of the document for further reading. Fiorentino first wrote about Joachim in 2015, but Allibhai’s work identified him as the boy trafficked by the Dudleys.
We can now return to that Arraignment, Tryal, and Condemnation text and search for ‘Joachim’ and ‘Cuffee;’ notably, Attorney General Paul Dudley was the Queen’s Advocate in this trial and presumably tried to cross examine Joachim/Cuffee through translators. Was he Joachim/Cuffee’s slaveholder during this time?
In the text, the author references Joachim/Cuffee four times, twice as Joachim and twice as Cuffee. This supports Mr. Allibhai’s find in the UK National Archives, which lists him as "Joachim alias Cuffee." Trial notes reveal that Joachim/Cuffee was baptized, perhaps hinting that Cuffee was the boy’s birth name and Joachim was a baptismal name given by his Catholic enslaver. And since Joachim/Cuffee was referred to as a boy, he was likely younger than sixteen; a letter from Paul Dudley quoted by Allibhai in the First Church report confirms that Joachim/Cuffee was "a Boy of fourteen years of Age (for the Negroe was no more)."2
We further learn that Quelch kidnapped Joachim/Cuffee on December 9, 1703, and he was living at the Bay of All Saints in or near Salvador in the Bahia province of Brazil, a region notorious for its slave-labor sugar plantations. Moreover, Joachim/Cuffee’s Brazilian enslaver at the time of capture was Josepho Galeno, and Joachim/Cuffee may have been kidnapped while fishing; when Quelch arrived, the boy was “pretty near land in an open boat with fish and other things in it, and that there were two Portuguese men in the boat at the same time.” Under cross-examination, John Clifford testified, “at first [Cuffee] waited on the whole ship’s crew, but then was sold at the mast, to Benjamin Perkins.”
Transcription (edited for readability.)
VI. That you the said John Quelch, with diverse others, on the ninth day of December 1703, in the second year of her Majesty’s reign, at or near the latitude of thirteen south off of Mora aforesaid, by force and arms on the high sea, (within the jurisdiction of the admiralty of England aforesaid) pyratically and feloniously surprize, seize and take a Portuguese brigantine, burthen above twenty tons, and an open boat, navigated by and belonging to the subjects of the King of Portugal, (Her Majesty's good ally.) and out of them then and there, within the Jurisdiction aforesaid, feloniously and pyratically did by force and arms, take about fifty pounds in Portuguese coined money, a negro boy, value twenty pounds, some rice farin(a), value five shillings.
Transcription (edited for readability.)
After this, a young Negro Boy, brought in by the prisoner at the Bar and Company, was set up by order of the Court, was Examin’d, and the Interpreters acquainted the Court that he was a baptized Negro, his name Yoachim, that he lived with a Portuguese, his masters name Josepho Galeno, that liv’d in the Bay of All-Saints, in Brazil, that he was taken by an English Brigantine, and that the prisoner at the bar was then on board the brigantine that took him, and that when he was taken, he was pretty near the land in an open boat, with fish and other things in it, and that there were two Portuguese men in the boat at the same time.
After this court ordered interperters to try the negro boy by Spanish and French questions: but it was found he understood neither.
Although we don't know Joachim/Cuffee’s birthplace, we do know that by the time he was fourteen years old, he was enslaved by multiple people. If he was captured in Africa, he would have faced kidnapping, imprisonment, the Middle Passage, and possibly a stop at a West Indies slave-trading house before being sold at a Brazilian slave market. The Massachusetts Bay Colony seized Joachim/Cuffee before Gov. Joseph Dudley trafficked him to his son Paul Dudley, Esq., in 1704—that’s five people or entities in less than a year.
I still don’t know where Joachim/Cuffee went after the trial. Hopefully, new names generate new leads.
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Why is it called the Eleven Names Project?
I call this the Eleven Names Project because, on the heels of the re-naming controversy surrounding the former Dudley Square, it was troubling to find records with the names of the enslaved next to men with last names like Weld, Stoughton, and Ruggles. Alongside the Dudleys, these last names are ubiquitous in Boston-area geography and architecture. The names of the enslaved deserve the same profile as those who profited from their abuse, exploitation, and hard labor—and at the time of original publication, I could point to eleven names of people enslaved by the Dudley family.
I’m psyched that we can now add a new individual to the founding project; the thirteen known individuals enslaved by the Dudley family are: Quam, Flora, Peter, Caesar, Guinea, Kate, Billah, Hannah, Cato, Peter, Brill, Jimmy, and Joachim/Cuffee.
[For more context, see my guest blog post, Pulling on the Thread of Slavery, at HistoricBostons.org.]
REVIEW: “Race & Slavery At The First Church Of Roxbury: The Colonial Period (1631–1775)” by Aabid Allibhai, JD (2023)
Race & Slavery At The First Church Of Roxbury: The Colonial Period (1631–1775) is an excellent example of local public history that serves as a rock-solid introduction to the history of slavery in Greater Boston. It should be read and recommended widely. The Roxbury Historical Society and Roxbury’s Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry Commissioned Aabid Allibhai, JD, to write this report. Mr. Allibhai, a Du Bois Institute fellow and Harvard Ph. D. candidate, also authored the City of Boston’s superb The Shirley-Eustis Place: Working Report On Slavery At The Shirley-Eustis House. The Shirley-Eustis report makes a thoughtful companion to Race & Slavery, and the two documents cement Allihbai as the foremost public scholar of slavery in Roxbury.
Roxbury, known for decades as the capital of Black life in Greater Boston, has a Black history that stretches back to the 1640s. Documentation of the lives of enslaved and free Black, multiracial, and native people in colonial Roxbury have been known to scholars and genealogists for over a century. However, this study was the first attempt to examine these colonial records as a one-place history centering on Roxbury’s Black population.
Race & Slavery is a thorough survey of church and other archival records that surfaces slices of Black life in colonial Roxbury. The report begins with a table of fifty-eight Black, mixed, and native individuals who endured enslavement and racism in early Roxbury. Throughout the report's pages, Mr. Allibhai establishes that Black life, Black resistance, and Black culture existed in Roxbury centuries before it became an iconic American Black neighborhood.
This report serves as a template in style and content that other institutions and local historical organizations should aim to replicate. Aabid writes comprehensively, with the logic and clarity I strive for in my writing and I admire Aabid’s forthrightness; the persistent myth that New England Slavery was more familial, “kinder, gentler slavery,” is dismissed and discarded with pristine inculpatory examples of criminal behavior by colonial Roxbury’s white residents.
While we should celebrate Race & Slavery as foundational work, one cannot read this report with a celebratory mindset. The topic is gruesome, and in the non-violent examples of Black life in colonial Roxbury, there is grotesque racism. Mr. Allibhai cites one example of an extra-judicial murder by white Roxbury residents of an aging Black man accused of theft. Other eye-opening topics explored by Allibhai are the first interracial marriage in Massachusetts and policies of racial segregation whose residual effects are codified in today’s laws and social conventions.
This report is an exceptional read for anyone searching for authentic history. Mr. Allibhai has clearly mastered the material and profoundly understands the current scholarship on slavery in Massachusetts. Because of this mastery, Mr. Allibhai finds elucidating comparative examples of Black life outside of Roxbury to give a fuller context to First Church’s historical narrative. As such, this report will appeal to readers and scholars across New England and beyond.
Spelling in this document is inconsistent. See: Joachim, Yoachim, Cuffee, and Coffee.
“Letters from Josiah Addington and Paul Dudley to the Board, enclosing documents concerning privateers and illegal trade,” The National Archives, UK, CO 5/864, doc. 150–151, pp. 272–74, quoted in Aabid Allibhai. Race & Slavery At The First Church Of Roxbury: The Colonial Period (1631–1775). Boston, MA, 2023. p. 17.