The Price of an African Slave


After taking ammunition and provisions to the forts in West Africa, British ships picked up a new stock of Africans for the long voyage across the Atlantic. They were sold as slaves to planters in the Caribbean. The process is illustrated by this document, an extract from the examination of Stephen Fuller, a witness before the Privy Council's Committee for Trade and Commerce.

Fuller's evidence shows that the price paid for 'new Negroes' - that is, those who had come directly from Africa - was lower than for those born in Jamaica. Men were usually sold for more than women, except for midwives, who could fetch between £150 and £200. At the other end of the scale, prices paid for the elderly varied from £5 to £40.

It is difficult to give exact modern values for these sums of money, but it is safe to say that slaves generally cost a substantial amount of money.

BT 6/10, pp. 40-1 (1788)

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