SS Blundell: Jamaica's First Indian Indentured Servant Ship
This article is about the SS Blundell, Jamaica’s first Indian indentured servant ship.
On May 10, 1845, the SS Blundell arrived in Old Harbour Bay, Jamaica carrying 200 men, 28 girls, and 33 children as indentured servants for the Halse Hall and Mammee Gully estates in Clarendon parish.
Over the course of 72 years, until 1916, 37,027 Indians were indentured to Jamaica.
The last ship to return to India, the S.S. Sutlej, departed from Kingston on November 23, 1929 and arrived in Calcutta on January 20, 1930 after also making a stop in Guyana. Departing Jamaica, 425 souls boarded the ship but unfortunately only 418 arrived alive in Calcutta.
5 men and 2 women perished – their names were Munni, Gulab, Mohabir, Hublal, Sheoratan, Suleeman, Subratan.
It’s interesting to note that the ship carried 224 men, 100 women, 60 children and 48 infants back to India. Therefore, 108 of the passengers – all children - sailed to India for the first time.
From Guyana, the S.S. Sutlej suffered 37 deaths.
Michael Henry curated the ‘We Deh Yah, Still’ online exhibit featuring oral history interviews with Indo-Jamaicans aged 29-86, one of which is Henry Jaghai, OD, JP who recounts his grandmother’s story about her passage on the ship from Calcutta to Jamaica.
Henry Jaghai was fortunate enough later in life to find and visit his ancestral villages in India and he helped to build a Hindu temple, provide scholarship to students, and other humanitarian efforts through his foundation. You can listen to his interview at the South Asian American Digital Archives. saada.org/acfp/exhibit/we-deh-yah-still
Written By Michael Anthony Henry
This article was about the SS Blundell, Jamaica’s first Indian indentured servant ship.
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