Containing a narrative of the loss of the Grosvenor, East Indiaman, wrecked on the Coast of Caffraria, 1782; compiled by Mr George Carter, from the examination of John Hynes, one of the survivors, London, 1791; and Journal of a Journey from the Cape of Good Hope in 1790 and 1791, undertaken by J. van Reenen and others in search of the wreck of the Grosvenor; a literal translation of the original by Capt. Edward Riou, London 1792.
Of all the many wrecks off the South African coast, that of the Grosvenor has usually been portrayed as the most romantic. The Grosvenor was an East Indiaman returning to England from Trincomalee with a hundred and fifty men, women and children aboard when it was wrecked on the Transkei coast. The majority initially survived and tried to make their way overland to the Cape of Good Hope. At the same time an expedition was sent from Cape Town to search for the survivors. The parties failed to meet and the fate of the survivors has remained largely a matter of speculation.
The unhappy fate of Master Law
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60 LOSS OF THE GROSVENOR
[…] by signs advised them to go inland, and pointed out to them the path they were to pursue. This path they accordingly took, and after having travelled about three miles, came to a village where they found only women and children.
Here they rested awhile, and the women brought out a little milk, which they gave to master Law. The milk was contained in a small basket, curiously formed of rushes, and so compact as to hold any liquid. During their stay, they examined several of their huts, where they had an opportunity of seeing the manner in which they churned their butter: The milk was put into a leather bag, which being hung up in the middle of the hut, was pushed backward and forward by two persons standing at the sides; and this they continued to do, till the butter was arrived at a proper state of consistence.
When it is properly prepared, they mix soot with it, to anoint their bodies. This operation not only serves them as a security against the intense heats of the climate, but renders them active, and gives them that agility which the inhabitants of Africa are well known to exhibit both in the chace and in battle.
While the travellers were resting themselves, the men belonging to the village returned from hunting, each bearing upon the point of his assaygay, his division of the spoil they had taken, which consisted of a piece of a deer, weighing about ten pounds.
As soon as they saw the strangers, they gathered round them in a ring, and seemed to gaze on them with admiration. After which, they shewed them two bowls of milk, which they appeared to be willing to barter; but as the English had nothing left that would prove acceptable to the natives, they had the mortification to see it applied to other purposes.
The bargain being declined, the savages brought from their huts sticks fuzzed at the ends, and seating themselves round the bowls, dipped their sticks into the milk, and thus, in a short time sucked the whole of it up.
They had scarcely finished their meal, than they all rose hastily up, and in an instant went off in different directions, at which our people were very much surprized. There were at least forty of them. The noise of some of their companions at a distance seeming to have awakened their attention, they scampered into the woods, and were out of sight in an instant.
It was not long, however, before they returned with a deer they had killed; which our people begged very fervently to be permitted to partake of, but in vain; and night coming on, they insisted that their visitors should quit the Kraal. This they were forced to comply with, and after walking four or five miles, they laid themselves down to rest.