when james jameson bought a girl just to watch her be eaten by cannibals

James S. Jameson, the heir to the Jameson Irish Whiskey fortune, once bought a 10-year-old slave girl for the price of six handkerchiefs so he could watch and sketch cannibals eating her.

James S. Jameson was the great (or great-great-grandson) of John Jameson, the founder of the Jameson Irish Whiskey empire in 1780.

when james jameson bought a girl just to watch her be eaten by cannibals

Jameson had everything he wanted to live by. Like many rich heirs of the era, he considered himself an adventurer and would tag along with accomplished explorers.

In 1888, he embarked on a trip as part of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition trip to the heart of Africa.

The expedition was set to rescue a colonial Governor, Emin Pasha, who they assumed was in danger as they hadn’t heard from him for long.

In reality, the trip also had a second purpose. The group had to annex more land for the Belgian Free State colony in the Congo.

Explorer Henry M. Stanley led the expedition.

when james jameson bought a girl just to watch her be eaten by cannibals

Having a famous leader, however, didn’t save the group from endless problems. They faced danger from the local people and animals, diseases, and isolation from the outside world.

They also had many reports of mistreatment on the trip. Moreover, the trip became a notorious expedition for victims they occurred along the way.

when james jameson bought a girl just to watch her be eaten by cannibals

While in a village called Ribakiba, in what is today Lokandu in Congo, Jameson was dealing directly with Tippu Tip, a slave trader and local fixer.

when james jameson bought a girl just to watch her be eaten by cannibals

As the village was known for cannibalism, Jameson expressed interest in witnessing the practice in action.

Through his translator, Assad Farran, he communicated his curiosity to Tippu, who then informed the village chiefs.

The chiefs then asked Jameson to pay six handkerchiefs to purchase a slave. And Jameson forked more than six handkerchiefs. A few minutes later, some men brought a 10-year-old girl.

According to Farran, the chiefs then said to their villagers:

“This is a present from a white man, who wishes to see her eaten…”

The natives then tied the little girl to a tree as cannibals sharpened knives nearby. She looked around for help as the cannibals surrounded her but never screamed.

One man then stabbed her twice in the stomach and left her to bleed out.

The cannibals then proceeded to slice meat from her and take apart her body for eating.

In Jameson’s own diary, he wrote:

“Three men then ran forward and began to cut up the body of the girl. Finally, her head was cut off. And not a particle remained, each man taking his piece away down the river to wash it.”

“The most extraordinary thing was that the girl never uttered a sound, nor struggled until she fell.”

Farran recounted:

“Jameson, in the meantime, made rough sketches of the horrible scenes.”

“He afterward went to his tent, where he finished his sketches in watercolors.”

when james jameson bought a girl just to watch her be eaten by cannibals

In his own diary, Jameson oddly didn’t even deny making the sketches.

He wrote:

“When I went home, I tried to make some small sketches of the scene while still fresh in my memory.”

After accusations of his misconduct made their way to Stanley, Jameson tried to play it off as though he went along with the idea because he thought it was just a joke.

Jameson also claimed he couldn’t imagine the villagers would actually kill and eat a child.

His wife also detailed similar claims in a letter for publication in The New York Times to save his husband’s reputation.

However, their claims fail to explain why he would pay six handkerchiefs for something he didn’t believe would happen.

They also fail to explain why he even sketched the horrifying scene.

The accounts of his crime were true, but Jameson never faced justice. He died while still on the expedition on August 3, 1888, from a fever.