When did the last ship leave India for Guyana and Trinidad?
By: Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. | Trademark Attorney
March 8, 1917
105 years ago, on March 8, 1917, the SS Ganges left India with the last set of Indian indentured servants bound for the Caribbean. There were about 400 passengers, and approximately 7 persons died during the voyage. Notable sources have conflicting numbers as to the amount of passengers.
SS Ganges History
The SS Ganges launched 11 years prior in 1906. It was built by Charles Connell and Company for the James Norse Shipping Company. It was the third Norse Line ship to be named Ganges. The first ship wrecked, and the second ship was sold to Norway.
An anecdote shared through generations was that a woman named Mahadai left India to escape female infanticide in her clan, and sailed on the first SS Ganges. She bribed a midwife to say that the baby was a boy. They escaped so that the baby could not be killed by placing salt under her tongue. Her family recounts that she sailed on the Ganges in 1871. Ship records reveal that the first Ganges ship sailed in 1872 and the date discrepancy could be a result of information being lost through time.
On March 12, 1917, just 4 days after the (third) SS Ganges set sail, the indentured servitude system was suspended because the British needed ships for the First World War.
SS Ganges Arrival
The SS Ganges arrived in Georgetown, Guyana on April 18, 1917 before setting sail and arriving in Trinidad on April 22, 1917. The steamer ship was able to make the voyage from India to the Caribbean in a few weeks. In contrast, older ships with sails took about 5 months.
The Indian indentured servitude system officially ended on January 1, 1920 following post WWI protests and efforts led by Gandhi.
In 1930, the SS Ganges was sold and renamed Seapro. It served for another 4 years before being wrecked.
Coolie Woman by Gaitura Bahadur
Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trademark and contracts attorney. She primarily helps growing businesses with trademarks, contracts, and name clearance searches.
She writes articles on the importance of trademarks, trademark law updates, and also West Indian history (with an emphasis on India, Trinidad, Guyana, and the United States).
MDGR Law, P.A.
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