- There are two sources here, which are part of the government's records
of the Royal Africa Company. The first source is a complaint by the
owners of sugar plantations in Barbados that they cannot get enough
African slaves (whom they call 'negroes'). They also complain that the
price of the slaves is too high. The second source rejects this accusation.
- The Royal Africa Company was set up in the 1600s to exploit the growing
trade with West Africa. At first, the main goods traded were gold and
exotic foods like cola nuts. However, as the century wore on slaves
became much more valuable.
- This was because the British colonies in the West Indies were finding
the sugar trade profitable.
- The first workers used by the planters were English and Irish. They
were often prisoners or indentured labourers. This meant they worked
for a plantation owner for a certain number of years and then their
contract gave them their own plot of land.
- By the late 1600s, the land was running out and the planters needed
large numbers of good workers. West Africans had the skills needed and
were able to work in the tropical conditions of Barbados. They were
usually sold by African slave dealers in return for guns, other factory-made
goods and alcohol.
- The source talks of casualties and also gives an idea of how many slaves were packed into the ships. This gives some clues about the terrible conditions that the African slaves had to suffer.