British Empire
The rise of the British empire - Africa
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Royal Africa Company document commenting on British expansion in Africa, 1749
(Catalogue ref: T 1/337/51)
  • This document is a memorial of the Royal Africa Company written in 1749. This is basically an incredibly long-winded and polite way of asking the government to get a move on and sent troops to protect British interests in Africa.
  • In these documents the King was being asked to act, but in practice the government ministers actually dealt with the day-to-day work. Some monarchs did, however, take a very close interest in the growth of Britain's empire.
  • The forts and castles mentioned in this document were almost certainly slave forts owned by the Royal Africa Company. This company was founded in the 1600s by wealthy and powerful men in Britain to exploit the wealth of Africa and make money from trading there.
  • The most valuable trade was the trade in slaves from West Africa to the sugar plantations in the West Indies. All of the European powers bought slaves from African dealers. They then kept the slaves on ships or in forts built on islands just off the coast until the ships were ready to sail.
  • By the time of this source Parliament was beginning to see how valuable the trade was. This is why it agreed ten thousand pounds to help develop the trade and protect it. The forts needed protection from slave rebellions and from attacks by other European slave traders.
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