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The Davis Diaries

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Captain Davis of H.M.S. Royalist a ship of the Royal Navy's Australian Squadron was sent to the Gilberts to declare a British Protectorate. It was one of the last acts of what has been termed 'British Imperialism'. Davis did more than bring 'The Flag'. He settled disputes amongst traders of various nationalities then operating in the Gilberts and between traders and islanders. He ended a civil war on Tarawa. He met and talked with all manner of people. What he saw and heard he recorded, and his observations are detailed and shrewd. This publication should provide invaluable source of material for anyone engaged in a study of Gilbertese history.

The Royalist is a major work. The papers collected here give a rare and vivid picture of the islands in the 1890's when there was little law and even less order. Captain Davis also visited the Marshall Islands to obtain supplies of coal. While he was there he recorded a number of observations and statistics.


No. 20 My Lord,

I have the honour to report that I arrived here on the 23rd instant.

    In compliance with orders, I hoisted the British flag at Abemama Island, on 27th May, and assumed a protectorate over the Gilbert Group. Having visited the other islands in the group, I proceeded for this port.
    There are but 50 tons of coal of an inferior quality procurable here - the German barque Speculant with some 400 tons on board having being wrecked on this island on the 15th instant.
    I was fortunate enough to obtain 100 tons of coal, whilst in the Gilbert Group, from the Nicaraguan steamer Montserrat, engaged in the collecting labour for Guatamala.
    Want of coal, will I fear necessitate a very short visit to the Marshall Group, having many islands yet to visit.
    As in all probability, I shall meet the flag, before the schooner I am sending this by, can arrive at Sydney, I reserve particulars of my cruise.
    The health of the ship's company is good.


    I have the honour to be my Lord
                                                  Your obedient servant

                                                                (Sd) Ed. H.M. Davis


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H.M.S. Royalist.

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Licenses Marks per annum
Jaluit Gesellschaft 1st class 9.000
A. Crawford & Co. 2nd class 6.000
Henderson & MacFarlane 2nd class 6.000
Trading Vessels each trip 1000 marks
Estimated 4 trips yearly 4.000
Public House (Limited to one) 800
Each trading station 100
at Nauro 200
Poll Tax
Each Foreigner over 16 years of age 20
Natives copra* 354.000 lbs
(The Chiefs receive 73 of this native tax in return for collecting the copra)
Total number of natives in Marshall Group including Nauro Island is about l5000
*This copra has usually been sold to Jaluit Gesellschaft at l cent per lb. In future it will be old by public auction.

Marshall Group

Receipts and Expenditures 1891
Estimated Real
Receipts 42.200 marks Receipts 43.327 marks
+Expenditure 20.500 marks Expenditure 15.055 marks
Balance ) 21.700 marks Balance 28.272 marks
Creditor ) ---------------- Creditor ----------------
This balance, if insufficient to pay Commissioner and Secretary's salaries, is, I understand made up by the Jaluit Gessellschaft.
+ Does not include salaries of Commissioner or Secretary.

Marshall Group

Export of Copra during 1891
By what Firm exported Quantity in lbs.
Jaluit Gessellschaft ) 2.261.349
Jaluit )
Crawford & Co ) 876.885
San Francisco )
Henderson & McFarlane) 574.167
Sydney )
18 May 1892

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