Slave Ship Leusden: A Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck and Murder

Written by Leo Balai
Category: · History

The history of this slave ship has gone almost entirely unnoticed until now. This is remarkable given that its final voyage ended in the single largest human tragedy in Dutch maritime history. The Leusden departed from Elmina, located in modern-day Ghana on the 19th of November 1737. On board were 700 African captives, destined to be sold as slaves in Suriname. On 1 January 1738, the Leusden foundered at the mouth of the Maroni River in Suriname. At the time of the disaster there were still 680 captives on board. A mere 16 of them survived. The way in which the crew sent the remaining 664 African captives to their deaths is unimaginable, even considering the inherent cruelty of the slave trade.


The author Leonard (Leo ) Balai (Paramaribo/Suriname 1946) studied law and public administration at the University of Amsterdam.

After his graduation he was active in various fields. He was a member of the City Council of Amsterdam for almost 11 years. He took his PhD with a thesis on the slave ship Leusden and the West India Company.

In May 2013 he published: Geschiedenis van de Amsterdamse slavenhandel (History of the Amsterdam slave trade). He also published: The last journey of the slave ship Rusthof.

Leo Balai is married to Dita Vermeulen; 5 grandchildren; lives in Amsterdam.

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