Selby and his tale

Far flung the mist of  dawn with the sun rising across Tiger Paw bay. The ship on her side on the rocks and her cargo of black gold drown to a man in chains. In the downy turf of land the survived sailor clung too and had slept in exhaustion wet and steaming now in the golden heat of an African day. His name being Edward Selby and this his story in all.

Born out of wedlock,child of the parish of Dawlish in Devon England in 1767 and now aged 23 in the year of God 1790 he was lost in the country of slaving. From his position he saw below him, long before he could hear them . A tribe of native males.From the spears they shook as they marched forward to the wreck on the rocks his fate lay in escape only.

Up they came in hundreds . Slavers all of them black as jet polished in the sunlight he watched them traverse across the rocks as fleet as mountain goats. Before they went down the hold to see  what was worth taking he had taken to his feet and slide down the mountain side to the worn path and discovered a row boat had floated up into a cave. Here he made good and took the oar and was about to push the boat out into the retreating tide. When suddenly the man stood over him pistol in hand and dressed in the robes of a pirate. No time for introduction Selby shot him dead.The powder had dried in the pan and had worked. He had not time now as taking sword and pistol with bag of lead he shot back to join the tide not knowing at all a plan. The shot had alerted the Blacks and only by skill with oar did he manage to ship off before they could reach him. he left them hurling spears at him and one struct the oarlock. rowing for all he was worth he reached the ocean and effected his escape.


Four hours later he had speared a fish but had no option but to eat it raw. Days drifted by the sun beating down and no shade to hide under young Edward was blistered and lips crusted badly. He awoke to the blue cloudless heavens and a cobalt calm sea. his eye lids burned he in pain could just make out a headland . He however had no power to row fell back and slept. Some time later that day he came to in a shady room a hand maiden tending his lips with sweet honey. In a language he had no knowledge of she talked softly and calmly to him. He had no idea what she said but he was sure she was helping him.

The weeks rolled by he was eating well  now. He noticed his pistols and clothing over ata desk on far side of a lavish room. He managed to reach the window and saw the ocean blue and perfect as he was healed by treatments and felt obliged to this maid.

Her name was Elmeria and she the hand maiden of Royal household of Imire of  Syria. He taught her English over a year and soon they were friends.  She found him work as water carrier to the Sultan son. Selby was fed on fresh fruits and decorated meals of olives and fish .Goat and spices with rice .He loved peaches and creams and found he loved this place. Elmira and he talked often of England and he told her all he could of his land of birth. But he did not tell her he was a slaver on a ship of black slaves as cargo to Liverpool docksides. He just told her he worked on big sail ships with trading all over that part and Africa.


She learned that Africa a Roman name for the land of deserts and jungles that lay lower down from Iranian lands. Over time she fell deeply in love with Selby and he with her. in days that passed it became clear to all and even to the great Emire himself. Nothing was said but eyes on him he became aware of.

In the soft evening light as the singer called his song out from minaret Edward Selby placed her in a boat with boxes of food and water he slipped out into the harbour and with cloth sails he reached the gates before they close for night. Outside in the ocean he hugged the coastal waters beyond Iran and around the land a Arabs he made it to an English ship leaving from Nicosia on the Greek island of Cypress. It had been a five day sail and once aboard with his love besides him and offered a cabin he slept. In the strong light of day he woke to find his  Emeira gone and he locked in the cabin fast. He battered at it with all he could by the oaken planks did not give way.  At change of watch they let him out to find they had locked in Captains cabin as gift to the King of England.  Selby was to serve on deck. Here he so used to ships let loose the missen mast sails and watched them fly in the wind away to sea. Uproar prevailed and sailors ran this way and that until the captain appeared on deck where Sebly hit him hard with a wooden mast peg.Down he went Selby sprang tiger like and took the pistol from his belt and held off the crew. The Captain was dead and so not much else to do than accept Selby as Captain. Up went the rescued sails and rigged for bad weather the ship raced home. Elmeria much relieved to be untouched and back with her bow. Offered to cook the crew a meal. So it was that the crew who had hated Captain Evens rejoiced at freedom.


Edward made it clear once docked safe he wanted no part of that ship and the crew must have it. So in 1805 in London Saint Marys Edward married his dark haired wife. Selby became a member of Parliament and owned a hall in South Yorkshire. Selby Hall still stands today.

Hope this tale of truest love will bring joy to all hearts.

Yours Sir Kevin, thanks you.

Copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2020

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