(Under the direction of William N. Still, Jr.) Department of History, May 1989.
The intent of this thesis is to present the archaeological and historical research associated with the cultural remains of the shipwrecked English merchant-slaver Henrietta Marie. The vessel wrecked on New Ground Reef c. 1701 approximately thirty-six miles west of Key West, Florida. Located in 1972 by Armada Research Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Treasure Salvors, Inc., the site was commercially salvaged for a few weeks in both 1972 and 1973 under the auspices of the State of Florida. After lying undisturbed for a decade the wreck site was relocated in 1983 and the writer was employed by Cobb Coin Co., Inc. as a consultant to direct archaeological salvage activities on the site. These activities took place during the summer and fall of 1983, 1984 and early 1985 under two different subcontracting operations. This study will briefly outline the methodology utilized during all phases of these activities including on-site archaeological data recovery and historical research undertaken after recovery of the ship's watch bell with the vessel's name embossed around the waist. Contemporary historical data gleaned from shipping lists, slaver's logs, manifests and accounts, seamen's wills, etc. have been utilized to place the Henrietta Marie within her proper perspective as a primary vehicle involved in the notorious triangular or trans-Atlantic slave trade. Period documents have been used to help analyze and interpret the ship's structural remains, associated gear and furniture and her vast and varied cargo.
Several wrecked slave ships have been located in various places around the world in the past twenty years or so, however, none have been as old, identified by name or documented and interpreted to the extent as the remains of the Henrietta Marie. The findings of various research efforts, analyses, and interpretations associated with this small time-capsule of the slave trade have been reported as objectively as possible knowing full well the implications of working within the controversial constraints of commercial salvage operations. Hopefully, this effort will be looked upon as a genuine research effort and not as a "test case" for what can and can not be done under such constraints.