1867 Detailed Death Record That Charts the Journey of the Spanish Coolie Vessel Reina des Los Angelos from Macao, China to Mariel, Cuba

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On offer is a remarkable manuscript listing the Chinese that died on board the frigate Reina des Los Angelos upon its arrival to the Cuban port of Mariel on May 29, 1867. This ship was transporting Chinese people to complete their indentured servitude as “coolies”, working for Cuban plantation owners. What makes the manuscript so incredible is its detailed nature which allows the researcher to chart the movements of the ship from China to Cuba in excellent detail. 

The Reina des Los Angelos was a Spanish vessel that departed the Macao port on January 30, 1867 with 384 Chinese souls on board. It arrived in Havana on June 3, 1867 with 343 living Chinese men bound to be coolies. This was a loss of 41 coolies. 37 of these deaths, occurring between February and May on board the Reina des Los Angelos, are recorded on this record. This record was completed at the Puerto del Mariel in Cuba. 

The document includes the date of each death, the deceased coolie’s passenger number, the coolie’s Chinese name and the latitude and longitude at which the death occurred. The record of the longitude and latitude of each death allows the scholar the remarkable opportunity to accurately track the ship’s journey from Macao to Havana. 

The record is signed May 29, 1867 in Mariel and is signed by Vicento Kuhmell Rubricado, possibly the captain of the ship (unconfirmed). On the verso of the document is a manuscript note indicating that this was written as a copy of the original document which had been given to the Senor Commissioner of the Marina of this province, given as certified, Mariel, June 3, 1867. June 3, 1867 is the date the frigate is recorded as formally arriving in Cuba. 

The Chinese coolie trade, a system of indentured labor that targeted young, poor Chinese men, operated from 1847-1874. Throughout this period, African slavery was slowly being abolished around the world. The coolie trade  was initiated by Britain and was eventually dominated by both Britain and the United States of America. Chinese coolie laborers were sent to work in British, American and Spanish colonies, and the nature of the trade changed throughout its 27-year operation, due to social and political pressures. The coolie trade took place, in large part, between the shipping port in Macao (now a part of China, then under Portuguese rule) and Havana, Cuba (then under Spanish control). As Macau was under Portugese rule at the time of the coolie trade, they transported coolies on their vessels frequently and many of the manifests were written in Portuguese and/or Spanish. To learn more about the Chinese coolie trade and its importance in world history, click here to read our in-depth research blog on the topic. 

The document measures 8.5x12.5 inches. It contains folds and creases and age toning appropriate to its age. No notable rips or tears. Overall VG. 


Asome, John. Coolie Ships of the Chinese Diaspora (1846-1874) (p. 438). Proverse Hong Kong. Kindle Edition. 

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