Catalogue description Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading with Africa and successors: Records

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Details of T 70
Reference: T 70
Title: Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading with Africa and successors: Records

These records are predominantly correspondence, financial accounts, minutes and reports relating to all aspects of the Company's business. The Company was one of the main slave traders of the period and many of the volumes record the purchase and sale of slaves, the rate of mortality among slaves on the voyages, accounts of the treatment of runaway slaves, contracts for the supply of slaves to North and South America and the Caribbean, records of the arrival of slaves in London including their number, gender and physical condition and the employment of slaves on the Company's forts. Other records include:

  • Detailed inventories of the forts, listing employees by name, and containing financial accounts of the cost of maintaining and defending the forts
  • Records of the movement of company stock
  • Accounts of trades in rum, cotton, sugar, indigo, tobacco and textiles
  • Contracts of employment naming individuals and listing their positions and salaries
  • Journals kept by traders recording experiences at sea
  • Registers of ships' passes detailing each voyage with the ship's name, the captains, tonnage, number of guns and crew members
  • Correspondence on a wide variety of subjects including relations with the indigenous peoples, questions of policy, diplomatic relations with the Dutch, piracy and details of the running of the forts
  • Reports on the misconduct of employees, attacks on company property and how money supplied by Parliament was spent
  • Customs registered recording goods on ships leaving Barbados bound for Britain and North America
  • Lists of auctions of property belonging to deceased employees of the Company
  • Registers listing the original members of the Company

The forts to which many of the records relate are: James Fort, on the River Gambia, Dixcove, Anamaboo, Succonda (or Succondee), Commenda, Cape Coast Castle, Fort Royal, Apollonia, Tantumquerry, Winnebah (or Winnebagh) and Accra, all on the Gold Coast, Williams Fort at Whydah and Sherbrow on York Island, Sierra Leone.

In addition there are separate volumes of name indexes (called 'alphabets'). Most of these refer to the accounts ledgers but some relate to other financial records and to the letter books.

Please note that some of the records in this series are unsorted.

Date: 1660-1833
Related material:

See also Records of Chartered Companies in Division within CO

A few papers of 1744-1745 are in PRO 22/78

Separated material:

Three volumes of correspondence are held at the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House. A few papers of 1783-1784 are among the Granville papers held at the British Library (reference: Add MS 89317).

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: English

Company of Merchants Trading to Africa, 1750-1821

Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading with Africa, 1663-1672

Royal African Company of England, 1672-1750

Physical description: 1696 volume(s)
Access conditions: Open
Administrative / biographical background:

The Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading with Africa was incorporated by royal charter of 10 January 1663. It was reconstituted by a new charter on 27 September 1672 as the Royal African Company of England and had a monopoly of trade to Africa. The company's headquarters in Africa was at Cape Coast Castle on the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) and other forts were sited at the River Gambia, in Sierra Leone and on the 'Slave Coast' (the modern Republic of Bénin) and at Bénin. The company traded in a variety of goods including wax, ivory and wood, but it was predominantly concerned with trading gold and slaves. These were bought with manufactured goods from Britian and Europe and the slaves were then sold to plantation owners in the American colonies and West Indies in return for sugar and tobacco.

The company lost its monopoly in 1698 and became insolvent in the 1720s. Its ports, settlements and factories in Africa were vested in the Company of Merchants trading to Africa incorporated by act of Parliament in 1750. It was abolished in 1821 and its property vested in the Crown.

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