The Story Of When James Jameson, Heir To A Whiskey Fortune, Bought A Girl To Be Cannibalized

James Jameson, heir to the Jameson Irish Whiskey fortune, was a wannabe adventurer who tagged along on one of the last European exploration trips into the "Dark Heart of Africa," in the late 1800s. The crew of the expedition, whose intention was to rescue a colonial Governor who they assumed was in danger, was led by famed explorer Henry M. Stanley.

Having a famous leader didn't save the group from endless problems, though. 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, and it became an infamous expedition for the number of casualties that occurred along the way.

One of the most unsettling accounts from that fateful trip is the story of the day James Jameson decided to buy an enslaved girl and watch her be slain and eaten – because he was curious about cannibalism. It may sound like an unbelievably gruesome thing for someone to do, but – amazingly – Jameson's journal and multiple accounts of that day from other members of the crew confirm that it is true. As can the watercolors that Jameson painted, which depict the event in gruesome detail.

  • He Was The Heir To A Whiskey Empire, With Too Much Time And Money On His Hands
    Photo: Unknown/Canukki / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    He Was The Heir To A Whiskey Empire, With Too Much Time And Money On His Hands

    James S. Jameson descended from John Jameson, the founder of Jameson Whiskey, and was thus heir to a substantial whiskey empire. In 1888, Jameson was a member of one of the last major European exploration trips through the center of Africa, the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition.

    Not much is know about his life besides his family lineage and his brief, ill-fated trip to the heart of the Congo.

  • The Expedition Was Conducted Under The Guise Of Relief – But Proved Incredibly Dangerous
    Photo: Unknown/Henry M. Stanley / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Expedition Was Conducted Under The Guise Of Relief – But Proved Incredibly Dangerous

    Jameson was a part of the Rear Column of what was touted as a rescue mission. The colonial Governor of the Equatorial Province of Sudan, Emin Pasha, had not been heard from for a long period of time following unrest in the region. Out of concern, a group of citizens organized an aid expedition to rescue Pasha, headed by famed explorer Henry M. Stanley.

    In time, this mission became somewhat infamous – many men perished, they contracted various diseases, and numerous incidents of mistreatment occurred, all in addition to the actions of Jameson.

  • The Town Where The Expedition Landed Was Known For Rumors Of Cannibalism

    During the expedition, the group of colonists stayed at a village called Lokandu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as Ribakiba at the time. The town sat on the Lualaba River and was a frequent stop for slaving ships and ivory traders. 

    As the town was allegedly known for cannibalism, Jameson expressed interest in witnessing the practice in action. Through his interpreter, he communicated this curiosity to their guide, who then informed the village chiefs and made arrangements for Jameson's wish to be fulfilled. 

  • He Paid For The Victim In Handkerchiefs
    Photo: Unknown/PKM / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    He Paid For The Victim In Handkerchiefs

    Jameson was informed that the price of an enslaved child was six handkerchiefs, which he then paid in return for the life of a 10-year-old girl. According to the sworn affidavit of Jameson's interpreter, Assad Farran:

    A man returned a few minutes [after Jameson paid] with a 10-year-old girl. Tippoo and the chiefs ordered the girl to be taken to the native huts. Jameson himself, Selim, Masondie, and Farhani, Jameson's servant, presented him by Tippoo, and many others followed.

    The man who had brought the girl said to the cannibals: "This is a present from a white man who desires to see her eaten."