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Colonial Cases

Appenquah's Case, 1861

[subject status]

Appenquah's Case

Gold Coast
7 February 1861
Source: J.H. Sarbah, Fanti Law: Reports of Decided Cases on Fanti Customary Laws, Second Selection (Clowes and Sons, London, 1904)


February 7, 1861


Before Governor E. S. Andrews, in Council, Cape Coast castle.

Allegiance - Transfer unlawful - Sub-ruler - Stool-holder - Penalty.

It has been decided long since that Appenquah was not a private slave to any person, but that he was a subject of the stool of Assin Chibhoo, and at this day is consequently a subject of Amba Danquah, regent of Southern Assin, and, according to strict law, he cannot rid himself of the allegiance to the stool.

   The Court has taken into its serious consideration the importance of this case.  There are grave questions involved, the most important, and that which in this peculiar country might be practised with the most serious consequences to the well-being and tranquillity of the protectorate, is a proceeding similar that that which the court id now called upon to decide as to its legality, it being whether a man occupying a considerable position, as does Apenquah, can suddenly march off with a number of his prince's lawful subjects and delver himself and them to a rival chief.

   The Court is of opinion that Apenquah does not possess the right to leave his Sovereign Amba Danquah, with all his people, and place himself under Inkee, and that he has not been able to show any grounds on which he could complain of bad treatment towards him by his Sovereign; the Court is, however, in this instance, disposed not to deal with this ac t as one of a treasonable nature, though, for the future, it will be held so.

   The Court now requires that Apenquah shall adopt one of the following courses:-

  1. Voluntarily to return to his allegiance under Amba Danquah, with his followers.
  2. As it is contrary to the spirit of the English law that a man should be forced against his will to leave a place that he has selected as his domicile, and acting in obedience to the forbearing tone of that law, the Court is not disposed to compel Apenquah to remove from the land, but he must live there alone, and not as a captain under Inkee; or, if married, with one wife, and the children by that wife.  And if his followers do not return to Amba Danquah, that he compensates her for the loss of their services, such compensation to be decided by three chiefs, one appointed by the Governor, one by Amba Danquah, and one by Inkee, the Governor having the power to assess the money if he considers it unfair.  That until the people return or the compensation is paid, Apenquah is to be a prisoner in the fort.
  3. That Inkee deposits 50 ozs. to be forfeited to Amba Danquah should the people after returning leave her again.  For the future, it is to be distinctly laid down that a headman, captain, or chief, shall not be suffered to transfer his allegiance with his followers to the chief or prince of another country.

   Neither shall he be allowed to domicile in another country as a captain with his followers; though he may not have renounced his allegiance to his former prince.

   To act thus shall be held to be treason, the punishment being the loss of all property and degradation of rank within the protectorate, such headman, captain, or chief, to be given up with his followers, it being held a high crime, the prince harbouring them to be deposed from his stool.  But where a headman, captain, or chief, is of full age, and  wishes to domicile in another country, and is a free man, he shall be permitted to do so, taking with him his one wife, and children by that wife; at the same time he shall not transfer his allegiance to the prince of his adopted country as a captain, but retire to live under that prince as a private man, leaving all his possessions, which become forfeited to the Sovereign whose country he has quitted.

Apenquah requested the Governor to allow him until the following morning to give his answers as to his people returning.  The Governor at once complied with the request.

   The Court met at 11 a.m., and Apenquah informed the Governor that his followers did not wish to return.

   Three chiefs were then appointed to assess the compensation for the loss of services of Apenquah's followers.

   The chiefs could not agree on the amount to be paid, and the Governor, taking into consideration that 30 out of the 100 people were the immediate family of Apenquah, considered 30 ozs. (£108 Sterling) was sufficient compensation, with the smaller houses which had been left in Amba's country, and that Apenquah remain a prisoner in the fort until the money be paid.

   The proceedings then terminated. (Signed) Edward B. Andrews, Governor.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School