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)
Source 2a

[The complaint of the sugar planters of Barbados against the Royal Africa Company]

...... the small wages they yearn, and the many casualties that attend them, we cannot reasonably hope they should ever work out their price; soe that the buying of Negros, at these rates, must, in a short time, exhaust and undoe us. And whereas the Royal Company doe now offer us Negros, at fifteen pounds per head one with another, Beehold it much worse than to give them their price of two and twenty pound for good Negros.

In former times wee were plentifully furnisht with Christian servants from England and Scotland, but now wee can get few English, having noe lands to give them at the end of their time, which formerly was their main allurement. Nor have wee many Scotch servants, in regard our intercourse with that kingdom is almost wholy cut off by the Act of Navigation, for men will not bring servants thence, when they bring noe other commoditys, nor carry our commoditys thither. And for Irish servants wee find them of small value; our whole dependence therefore is upon Negros. And unless your Majesty bee graciously pleased to vouchsafe us your effectual and favor, some of us must bee undone by buying them, and the rest by wanting them. And a considerable part of this once flourishing Island will soon lye unwrought and deserted for want of hands, to the utter ruine of Your poor subjects in these parts, the destruction of the Sugar trade, and the great diminution of Your Majesties Customs both here and in England.

Source 2b

[The reply of the Royal Africa Company]

......Trade, making it their particular care to furnish all the Plantacons with a plentifull supply of Negro servants, and that yeare sent out Fifteen Ships to the Coast of Africa and thence ordred Six of them to the Island of Barbados with about two thousand Negros which their Factors disposed of, at several rates, as the market would give leave, many of them at a much lower price than was usual before this Company was etablished.

And the last year, for a farther supply they sent out twenty Ships more to Africa, and have appointed eight of them, with about three thousand Negros, to Barbados, which, by this time, wee may reasonably beleeve are, for the most part, arrived, and the rest on their way thither.

And whereas they are pleas'd to allege that wee have sold our Negros at 20 and 22 pound per head; for your Lordships more right informacon therein, wee have examined our Books, and the accounts of Sales of all the Negros sold by our Factors out of each particular ship, and find they come out at a much lower rate, viz. about 15 pounds per head.
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