Coat of arms
|Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa|
|Successor||African Company of Merchants |
|Founders||House of Stuart (British Royal Family)|
|James II, Charles II|
|Products||Gold, silver, ivory, slaves|
The Royal African Company (RAC) was an English mercantile (trading) company set up by the royal Stuart family and City of London merchants to trade along the west coast of Africa. It was led by the Duke of York, who was the brother of Charles II and later took the throne as James II.
Its original purpose was to exploit the gold fields up the Gambia River, which were identified by Prince Rupert during the Interregnum. It was established after Charles II gained the English throne in the Restoration of 1660.But its agents soon engaged in the slave trade, as well as with other commodities. It traded mainly with the peoples of the Gold Coast, which is now Ghana. In 1752, RAC's assets were transferred to the new, African Company of Merchants, which lasted until 1821.
Originally known as the Company of Royal Adventurers Trading to Africa, by its charter issued in 1660 it was granted a monopoly over English trade along the west coast of Africa, with the principal objective being the search for gold. In 1663 a new charter was obtained which also mentioned the trade in slaves.With the help of the army and navy, it established forts on the West African coast that served as staging and trading stations, and was responsible for seizing any English ships that attempted to operate in violation of the company's monopoly (known as interlopers). In the "prize court," the King received half of the proceeds and the company half from the seizure of these interlopers.
The company fell heavily into debt in 1667, during the war with the Netherlands. It had started the war when its Admiral Robert Holmes had attacked the Dutch African trade posts in 1664, as the RAC had lost most of its forts on the African coast except for Cape Corse.For several years after that, the company maintained some desultory trade, including licensing single-trip private traders, but its biggest effort was the creation in 1668 of the Gambia Adventurers.
This new company was separately subscribed and granted a ten-year licence for African trade north of the Bight of Benin with effect from 1 January 1669.
In 1672, the original Company re-emerged, re-structured and with a new charter from the king, as the new Royal African Company. Its new charter was broader than the old one and included the right to set up forts and factories, maintain troops, and exercise martial law in West Africa, in pursuit of trade in gold, silver and African slaves.At the end of 1678, the licence to the Gambia Adventurers expired and its Gambian trade was merged into the company.
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In the 1680s the Company was transporting about 5,000 slaves a year to markets primarily in the Caribbean across the Atlantic. Many were branded with the letters "DY", for its Governor, the Duke of York, who succeeded his brother on the throne in 1685, becoming King James II. Other slaves were branded with the company's initials, RAC, on their chests.Historian William Pettigrew has stated that this company “shipped more enslaved African women, men and children to the Americas than any other single institution during the entire period of the transatlantic slave trade.” and that investors in the company were fully aware of its activities and intended to profit from this exploitation.
Between 1662 and 1731, the Company transported approximately 212,000 slaves, of whom 44,000 died en route. By that time, they also transported slaves to English colonies in North America.Ship’s crew mortality rates were often similar and sometimes greater than the mortality rates amongst the slaves. Its profits made a major contribution to the increase in the financial power of those who controlled the City of London.
From 1694 to 1700, the company was a major participant in the Komenda Wars in the port city Komenda in the Eguafo Kingdom in modern-day Ghana. The company allied with a merchant prince named John Cabess and various neighbouring African kingdoms to depose the king of Eguafo and establish a permanent fort and factory in Komenda.
In 1689, the Company acknowledged that it had lost its monopoly with the end of royal power in the Glorious Revolution, and it ceased issuing letters of marque.To maintain the company and its infrastructure and end its monopoly, parliament passed the Trade with Africa Act 1697 (9 Will. 3 c. 26). Among other provisions, this act opened the African trade to all English merchants who paid a ten per cent levy to the Company on all goods exported from Africa. This development was advantageous for merchants in Bristol even if, like the Bristolian Edward Colston, they had already been involved in the trade. The number of slaves transported on English ships subsequently increased dramatically. The Company continued purchasing and transporting slaves until 1731, when it abandoned slaving in favour of ivory and gold dust.
From 1668 to 1722, the Royal African Company provided gold to the English Mint. Coins made with such gold are designed with an elephant below the bust of the king and/or queen. This gold also gave the coinage its name, the guinea.
The Royal African Company was dissolved by the African Company Act 1750 with its assets being transferred to the African Company of Merchants. These principally consisted of nine trading posts known as factories: Fort William, Fort James, Fort Sekondi, Fort Winneba, Fort Apollonia, Fort Tantumquery, Fort Metal Cross, Fort Komenda, and Cape Coast Castle, the last of which was the administrative centre.
The Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants as well as foreign investors. Among its founders was Willem Usselincx (1567–1647) and Jessé de Forest (1576–1624). On 3 June 1621, it was granted a charter for a trade monopoly in the Dutch West Indies by the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands and given jurisdiction over Dutch participation in the Atlantic slave trade, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America. The area where the company could operate consisted of West Africa and the Americas, which included the Pacific Ocean and the eastern part of New Guinea. The intended purpose of the charter was to eliminate competition, particularly Spanish or Portuguese, between the various trading posts established by the merchants. The company became instrumental in the largely ephemeral Dutch colonization of the Americas in the seventeenth century. From 1624 to 1654, in the context of the Dutch-Portuguese War, the WIC held Portuguese territory in northeast Brazil, but they were ousted from Dutch Brazil following fierce resistance.
The first written records of the region come from Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries. In medieval times, the region was dominated by the Trans-Saharan trade and was ruled by the Mali Empire. In the 16th century, the region came to be ruled by the Songhai Empire. The first Europeans to visit the Gambia River were the Portuguese in the 15th century, who attempted to settle on the river banks, but no settlement of significant size was established. Descendants of the Portuguese settlers remained until the 18th century. In the late 16th century, English merchants attempted to begin a trade with the Gambia, reporting that it was "a river of secret trade and riches concealed by the Portuguese."
Admiral Sir John Hawkins was an English slave trader, naval commander and administrator, merchant, navigator, shipbuilder and privateer. His elder brother and trading partner was William. He was considered the first English trader to profit from the Triangle Trade, based on selling supplies to colonies ill-supplied by their home countries, and their demand for African slaves in the Spanish colonies of Santo Domingo and Venezuela in the late 16th century. He styled himself "Captain General" as the General of both his own flotilla of ships and those of the English Royal Navy and to distinguish himself from those Admirals that served only in the administrative sense and were not military in nature. His death and that of his second cousin and mentoree, Sir Francis Drake, heralded the decline of the Royal Navy for decades before its recovery and eventual dominance again helped by the propaganda of the Navy's glory days under his leadership.
Kunta Kinteh Island, formerly called James Island and St Andrew's Island, is an island in the Gambia River, 30 km from the river mouth and near Juffureh in the country of the Gambia. Fort James is located on the island. It is less than 3.2 km from Albreda on the river's northern bank.
The asiento was the license issued by the Spanish crown, by which a set of merchants received the monopoly on a trade route or product. They were included in some peace treaties. An example of it was the payment of a fee, granting legal permission to sell a fixed number of enslaved Africans in the Spanish colonies. They were usually sold to foreigners, mainly Portuguese. They were also considered a tangible asset, comparable to tax farming, and a source of profit for the Spanish crown. The original impetus to import enslaved Africans was to relieve the indigenous inhabitants of the colonies from the labor demands of the Spanish colonists. Dutch merchants became involved in the slave trade. In 1713, the British were awarded the right to the asiento in the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession. The British government passed its rights to the South Sea Company. The British asiento ended with the 1750 Treaty of Madrid between Great Britain and Spain.
William Dockwra was an English merchant who along with his partner Robert Murray created the first Penny Post in London in 1680. He was also the founder of British independent Slave Trade. In latter 17th century London there was no official postal system for mail delivery within the city of London and its suburbs. Dockwra's London Penny Post was a mail delivery system that fulfilled this need. His system worked so well that it compromised the interests of private couriers and porters and royal officials alike.
The Dutch Gold Coast or Dutch Guinea, officially Dutch possessions on the Coast of Guinea was a portion of contemporary Ghana that was gradually colonized by the Dutch, beginning in 1598. The colony became the most important Dutch colony in West Africa after Fort Elmina was captured from the Portuguese in 1637, but fell into disarray after the abolition of the slave trade in the early 19th century. On 6 April 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast was, in accordance with the Anglo-Dutch Treaties of 1870–71, ceremonially ceded to the United Kingdom.
Anomabu, also spelled Anomabo and formerly as Annamaboe, is a town on the coast of the Mfantsiman Municipal District of the Central Region of Ghana. Anomabu has a settlement population of 14,389 people.
Colonel Sir Thomas Modyford, 1st Baronet was a planter of Barbados and Governor of Jamaica from 1664 to 1670.
Thomas Corker was known as an English agent for the Royal African Company on York Island. He married a Sherbro woman and had two sons with her before his early death.
The Company of Adventurers of London Trading to the Ports of Africa, more commonly known as "The Guinea Company" was the first private joint stock company to trade in Africa for profit. It was a trading company trading in slaves, and redwood from the western Africa. At its height, the Guinea Company owned and operated fifteen cargo ships.
The African Company of Merchants or Company of Merchants Trading to Africa was a British chartered company operating from 1752 to 1821 in the Gold Coast area of modern Ghana. This coastal area was dominated by the indigenous Fante people. It was established by the African Company Act 1750, and in 1752 replaced the Royal African Company. The latter had been established in 1660.
Sir Nicholas Crispe, 1st Baronet was an English Royalist and a wealthy merchant who pioneered the West African trade in the 1630s; a customs farmer ; Member of Parliament for Winchelsea Nov. 1640-1 ; member of the Council of Trade and for Foreign Plantations ; and Gentleman of the Privy Chamber from 1664. He was knighted in 1640 or 1641 and was made a baronet in 1665. He died in February 1666 (O.S.) aged 67.
Fort Vredenburgh was a Dutch fort on the Gold Coast, established on the left bank of the Komenda River. The fort exists as preserved ruins.
The English overseas possessions, also known as the English colonial empire, comprised a variety of overseas territories that were colonised, conquered, or otherwise acquired by the former Kingdom of England during the centuries before the Acts of Union of 1707 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain. The many English possessions then became the foundation of the British Empire and its fast-growing naval and mercantile power, which until then had yet to overtake those of the Dutch Republic, the Kingdom of Portugal, and the Kingdom of Spain.
Fort William is a fort in Anomabu, Central Region, Ghana, originally known as Anomabo Fort and renamed Fort William in the nineteenth century by its then-commander, Brodie Cruickshank, who added one storey to the main building in the days of King William IV. It was built in 1753 by the British after they thwarted a French attempt to establish a fort at the same place. Two earlier forts had been established at the same site, one in 1640 by the Dutch, another in 1674 by the English. Fort Charles was abandoned in the late-seventeenth century.
Fort Komenda was a British fort on the Gold Coast, currently been preserved as a ruin.
The Komenda Wars were a series of wars from 1694 until 1700 largely between the Dutch West India Company and the British Royal African Company in the Eguafo Kingdom in the present day state of Ghana, over trade rights. The Dutch were trying to keep the British out of the region to maintain a trade monopoly while the British were attempting to re-establish a fort in the city of Komenda. The fighting included forces of the Dutch West India Company, the Royal African Company, the Eguafo Kingdom, a prince of the kingdom attempting to rise to the throne, the forces of a powerful merchant named John Cabess, other Akan tribes and kingdoms like Twifo and Denkyira. There were four separate periods of warfare, including a civil war in the Eguafo Kingdom, and the wars ended with the British placing Takyi Kuma into power in Eguafo. Because of the rapidly shifting alliances between European and African powers, historian John Thornton has found that "there is no finer example of [the] complicated combination of European rivalry merging with African rivalry than the Komenda Wars."
John Cabess was a prominent African trader in the port city of Komenda, part of the Eguafo Kingdom, in modern-day Ghana. He was a major British ally and was a supplier to the British Royal African Company. As a trader, he became a strong economic and political force in the coastal region in the early 1700s, playing an active role in the Komenda Wars, the rise of the Ashanti Empire, the expansion of British involvement in West Africa, and the beginnings of large-scale Atlantic slave trade. Because of his combined economic and political power, historian Kwame Daaku named Cabess one of the "merchant princes" of the Gold Coast in the 1700s. He died in 1722, but his heirs continued to exert economic power in the port for the remainder of the 18th century.
Interloper are individuals or businesses who breach the monopoly of established guild, livery company or other body granted monopoly trading rights.