In 1839 enormous amounts of gold are pounded out of mountains of soft Brazilian rock, washed for the gold dust to be caught in sheets of raw white cotton on frames, as the lighter pounded stone dust, now muddying the water flowed over and down stream. African women slaves would take the sheets and flush the heavy gold dust into holding containers while the male slaves, some their husbands, were deep in the earth digging the precious stuff under straining, massive towering  tree trunks, cut from deeper in the forest and holding the soft crumbling earthen ceilings in place.  Gongo Soco gold mine was booming, an incredible year, 1,900 kilograms were taken in 1839 alone, with the help of some 500 African slaves; Cornish miners from Gwennap and Redruth earning £80 a year; and there were some freed, former African slaves working too. A village had sprung up, a market, homes, church. All feeding the very bottom end of the capitalist model. That precious dust which the Caspers coveted, free of labour, most likely came from this or a similar mine from the Brazils, but this was the most successful, others nearby were desperately in trouble.

Cpt. John Parsons sailed the HM Seagull Packet, a schooner with 6 defensive guns, commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1831, to fetch and run the mail between the Americas and the United Kingdom. This run was to also transfer 46 kilos of that beautiful gold dust from the Brazils to Falmouth in boxes “18 and 19”,  to be then forwarded on with the steam packet, “City of Limerick”, to the docks where Lewin Casper was waiting  to complete the paper work for its unloading and delivery to the Bank of England in London.


Gongo Soco gold mine drawn in 1839 by the German merchant Ernst Hasenclever

British School; The Schooner HMS ‘Sandfly’ similar to the ‘Seagull ‘Packet

Next – ‘Gold Dust Robbery’

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