Source 8

Letter from a seaman named Claudius Smart to the Colonial Office, London 3 January, 1921. Catalogue ref: CO 137 744


The Assist. Private Secretary, Colonial Office,                       31 Wadham Rd,


Bootle, Liverpool


January 3rd 1921.



Dear Sir,


With reference to my application for a passage to Jamaica in July last, you have been good enough to contact Detective Inspector Bell of Bootle regarding my bona-fide [illegible], Inspector Bell has called to acquaint me of the fact, that you are willing to send me home on condition that my wife agrees to my going. I must add that, my wife is quite willing that I should go, but, Inspector Bell, being an intimate friend of Mr Sears, (my father-in-law) has put obstacles in my way, he wants me to leave a guarantee, he will not state what guarantee he desires, as I have no money, I cannot see what guarantee I can possibly leave him. My wife’s aunt has promised to look after my wife, until such time that I arrive home, and is able to find work to repay her. I would esteem it a favour if you could possibly do something for me, for if something is not done speedily I must surely starve to death. I am a stranger among strange people, I haven’t a friend to give, or do anything for me. I have no hope of finding employment here, as there are thousands of men? In the country unable to find employment. And again I have been seeking work for the last month, every day, and I can see no sign of my efforts being likely to be rewarded. So I may remain here, and in that rate death must be the inexorable [unavoidable] end as on no account would I condescend to enter the workhouse. I am willing to send money for my wife as soon as I have arrived in Jamaica and secure a berth. Beyond that I cannot do anything. If you can see your way to answer my letter direct instead of dealing through Inspector Bell, I would esteem it a favour.


Thanking for this, in anticipation.


I am Sir,


Yours respectfully,


C. A. [Claudius] Smart


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Look at source 8.

  1. How does Claudius Smart express himself in this letter to explain the difficulties of his situation?
  2. How does he suggest that the authorities could resolve it?
  3. Can you explain what the repatriation scheme involved?
  4. How did repatriation affect the seamen, their wives and their wider families?
  5. What can we infer from this source and source 7 about the attitudes of the authorities and the public towards white British women who married black men at this time?
  6. What can we learn about the personal circumstances/predicament of the women, men and families affected by these changes?