Did a Jameson Whiskey Heir Buy a Slave Girl to Watch Her Get Cannibalized?

7 min read
In 2021, social media posts referenced a 130-year-old scandal and a horrifying anecdote from a colonial expedition to Africa.
James Sligo Jameson once bought a slave girl in Africa so that he could live out his desire to watch her being murdered and cannibalized.

Jameson insisted he did not set out with the intention of causing or witnessing any murder or act of cannibalism, and described what he ultimately witnessed as "the most horribly sickening sight I am ever likely to see in my life."

By his own admission, Jameson witnessed the murder and mutilation of a girl in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 1888. The incident took place after Jameson paid handkerchiefs to a man who had said "Give me a bit of cloth and see."

In 2021, social media users shared a disturbing old story about James Sligo Jameson, the grandson of John Jameson, the original creator of the world-famous Jameson Irish whiskey.

The horrifying vignette has been told many times and republished in several online posts and in memes over the years, but it saw a resurgence in 2021 for reasons that are unclear. For example, in 2015, the website Afflictor.com published an account that read as follows:

In 1890, James S. Jameson, heir to the famed whiskey-distilling family's wealth, was accused of a crime that was singular and sinister even by the standards of colonialism. Syrian translator Assad Farran testified that the peripatetic explorer paid African natives a number of handkerchiefs to kill and cannibalize a small girl. Jameson, it was alleged, desired to not only witness the heinous acts but to sketch them.

Most accounts highlight and emphasize the affidavit written by Farran, the interpreter, which was published in the London Times, and subsequently excerpted in The New York Times, in November 1890.

In reality, the truth of exactly what happened, and why, was obscured from the very outset by a flurry of competing narratives, claims and counter-claims, ad hominen attacks, and purported retractions. The passing of more than a century, and the deaths of everyone involved, has done nothing to offer any…
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