1 Annotation

Michael Robinson   Link to this

"Company of Royal Adventurers into Africa,"

Founded 1660, and re-founded in 1663, by Prince Rupert and James, Duke of York, the company was granted monopoly trading rights in western Africa for 1,000 years. Apparently this company's activities were initially restricted to Gambia because of the need to negotiate with the pre-existing rights of the Guinea and East India Companies. The charter of 1663 for the first time explicitly mentioned the slave trade among the Company's interests, in 1662 it undertook to supply 3,000 slaves annually to the West Indian colonies. The Company's first decisive act was to dispatch a naval expedition to Africa under Sir Robert Holmes, which established a fort on James Island in the Gambia (1661) It was this that lead to it becoming embroiled in conflict with the Dutch.
In consequence of the charter of 1663 the Company extended its activities east of the Gold Coast, into an area that was becoming known as the "Slave Coast," where it established a trading station at Allada in 1663; slaving voyages were also undertaken to New and Old Calabar, further East. The suggestion that the slave trade had now become the Company's main pursuit is unwarranted. Gold remained the main object of trade; in 1665 the Company estimated its annual revenues from gold sales at L200,000,as against only L100,000 from the delivery of slaves to English Colonies, with a further L100,000 from other commodities (ivory, wax, hides, dye-woods and pepper.) African gold was coined in 'guineas,' stamped with an elephant as the Company's symbol, from 1663 onwards.

The company made an ambitious start, claiming to have established (or re-established) eighteen factories in Africa and dispatched over forty ships to trade there in the first years of its operation .....

[I leave the Holmes expedition to Pedro]

The losses sustained at de Ryuyter's hands (1664-5) ruined the company, which did little trade after1665. The Company licenced private traders from 1669, leased the Gambia trade to a separate company of Gambia adventurers in 1669, and was liquidated and replaced by a new Royal African Company in 1672. Initially the Gambia Adventurers maintained their rights, but in 1678 they were bought out by the Royal African Company. By comparison with the Royal Adventurers, the new company was dominated by merchants rather than courtiers, though James, Duke of Yoork (and later as King) remained titular Governor.

Short summary of:-
P.E. H. Hair and Robin Law
The English in Western Africa to 1700 (with select bibliography)
in Nicholas Canny ed. The Origins of Empire. British Overseas Enterprise to the Close of the Seventeenth Century [Oxford History of the British Empire Vol 1] Oxford: OUP, 1998 pp. 241 - 263, @ pp255-7.

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