British Empire
The rise of the British empire - Africa
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Extracts from the records of the Royal Africa Company on the supply of slaves to Barbados in 1676
(Catalogue ref: CO 268/1)
[The complaint of the sugar planters of Barbados against the Royal Africa Company]

.. with the high rate of casualties among the slaves, we cannot hope that we can get enough work out of them to get back what we pay for them, and in a short time these high prices for slaves will ruin us. And while the Royal Company claim they offer us negroes at 15 pounds per head, in truth they charge 22 pounds.

In former times we had plenty of servants from England and Scotland but these days we can get few English, having no lands to offer them which was the main attraction to them. Nor have we any Scottish servants, as we have little trade with Scotland. And as for Irish servants we find them of small value. Our whole dependence is therefore upon negroes, and unless your Majesty takes some action, many of us will be undone by buying them, and the rest of us will be undone because we cannot afford them, and a considerable part of this once flourishing island will lie unfarmed and deserted because we have no workers. This will ruin your poor subjects in these parts, it will destroy the sugar trade and reduce your Majesty's customs income.

[The reply of the Royal Africa Company]

.. the Company has made it a priority to supply Barbados with plenty of negroes and two years ago year sent out fifteen ships to the coast of Africa and from there we ordered six of them to Barbados, with about two thousand negroes who were sold at a fair market price, often much less than the prices the Company would usually get.

And last year they sent out twenty more ships and sent eight of them to Barbados with about three thousand negroes on board.

And whereas they are pleased to allege that we have sold negroes at 20 or 22 pounds, we have examined our books and found that the sales come out at a much lower rate, of about 15 pounds per head.
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