MARSHALL ISLANDS HISTORY
The Davis Diaries
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